Cred's Elise O'Ryan facilitating focused discussions with community members

Visioning 2050: the voices of a whole city

City of Sydney Council 

Sustainable Sydney 2050 Strategic Plan and Community Engagement  

A community’s vision and aspirations for their area is the core of local government Community Strategic Plans, and in 2019, the City of Sydney embarked on an extensive community engagement program to support the development of their new plan, Sustainable Sydney 2050

Our engagement program needed to be as inclusive as possible to capture the breadth of the City’s community. It also needed to delve deeply into the challenges of city-making. The engagement curated by the City of Sydney was successful in achieving this, and in 2020, the Sydney 2050 engagement program won the International Association of Public Participation award for Project of the Year.

Cred, in association with People Place and Partnership, were contracted as community engagement and city planning specialists to deliver the first stage of engagement through four ‘listening sessions’ with the community, to support the development of its Sustainable Sydney 2050 Vision. 

How we did it

We designed engagement activities that motivated people to leave everyday issues, challenges and gripes with the Council at the door, and become future-focused. The engagement activities Cred contributed cut across age, geographical and cultural differences.

A variety of engagement techniques were drawn on to address the challenge of getting people to think ahead into the future, including:

  • Future visioning
  • Scenarios
  • Values based inquiry
  • World café style discussions.
Feedback from participants informed the City of Sydney’s 2050 Vision (Source: City of Sydney).
Participants at one of Cred’s four listening sessions. (Source: City of Sydney). 
Two kids with engagement paddles
Young participants at Sustainable Sydney 2050 listening sessions
Cred's Sarah Reilly facilitating listening sessions
Cred's Sarah Reilly facilitating Sustainable Sydney 2050 listening sessions at Green Square Library (Source: City of Sydney)
Cred’s Associate Director, Elise O’Ryan, lead a future-focused discussion. (Source: City of Sydney).

The outcome

The outcome was community members learning from each other, building empathy and a shared sense of identity as Sydneysiders.

A number of common themes emerged across all sessions and activities, including a need to address future population growth and the impacts of this, a desire for more green space, for fewer cars and more active transport, for a range of housing types, for a socially connected, sharing city, and a strong desire for the future city to be equitable and inclusive.

Being more sustainable in how we live and taking action on climate change was another major topic of discussion across all sessions, along with the importance of trees and green spaces as a way of reducing the impacts of heat.

The results of this engagement process have gone on to provide a basis for the City of Sydney’s in-house design and development of the wider engagement program for its Sydney 2050 Vision, including with cultural and linguistically diverse community members.

The engagement for Sydney 2050 won the 2020 IAP2 Core Values Award for Public Participation.