Tracey Fellows talks about her role as a Future Melbourne ambassador, and her aspirations and challenges for Melbourne in 2026 and how the community can help shape the refreshed Future Melbourne plan.

By the Future Melbourne Team

The City of Melbourne makes a major contribution to the economy. It accounts for 27 per cent of Victoria's Gross State Product and 6 per cent of Australian Gross Domestic Product. There are 438,972 jobs in the municipality. The biggest industry is the professional, scientific and technical services sector with 70,090 jobs.

Over its history Melbourne has been shaped and built by the forces of successive industrial eras of mechanisation, mass-production and automation and is now entering a fourth industrial era driven by the Internet of things and services. As we look to the future we need to develop our understanding of Melbourne’s niche in the Victorian, Australian and post Global Financial Crisis economies.

The silk highway

According to the CSIRO’s 2015 report, Our Future World, we are soon to see the world economy shift from west to east and north to south. Income growth in Asia, South America and Africa will shift billions of people out of poverty and into the middle income classes. This new world economy will be driven by China and India and it will provide new export markets and business opportunities. We’ll likely see an unprecedented increase in tourists, funds and ideas flowing out of Asian countries and into Australia’s economy.

Digital disruption

We know that digital disruption will change the way we work and render some jobs obsolete but we also know that the internet creates 2.6 jobs for each job lost to technology related efficiencies – this is a huge growth opportunity for our city.

More from less

In addition to the impacts described above, we will experience a global move towards embracing the ‘more from less’ philosophy over coming decades. The CSIRO’s 2015 report, Our Future World, indicates that the earth has limited supplies of natural mineral, energy, water and food resources essential for human survival and maintaining lifestyles.

Climate change will place pressure on water and food production systems, whilst population growth will place further demand on our resources. Emphasis is likely to shift to re-purposing existing infrastructures, acquiring more benefit from current assets and using our resources in a more prudent fashion. This ‘more with less’ trend is likely to drive the sharing economy and maker culture to become mainstream, it will also spur growth for green roofs and vertical walls on urban buildings and community gardens to support urban agriculture.

24-hour city

One of the goals of the first Future Melbourne plan (endorsed in 2008) was to develop a ‘Prosperous City’ with a specific action being to create a stimulating and safe 24-hour city. In 2010, the City of Melbourne put in place strategy to diversify the night time economy.

We focused on late night activation with a boost in funding for cultural institutions to extend their programming and hours of operation. The aim was to bring a broader demographic into the city at night by expanding the city’s artistic offer. What that’s translated to today is a 16 per cent rise in base of night time economy outlets. Our population is set to double over the next decade and this is likely to future drive the 24-hour city economy.

Knowledge economy

Melbourne’s ICT sector which leads the nation. In 2012, the sector contributed over $7.7 billion to gross local product and employed more than 36,000 people. Today, knowledge based workers make up two thirds of our workforce – around 300,000 people.

The sharing economy

The Sharing Economy is a socio-economic ecosystem built around the shared creation, distribution or trade of resources by different people and organisations. Good examples of sharing economy include AirBnB, Uber and community gardens. The sharing economy has been driven by the proliferation of mobile internet and is likely to make a significant impact in Melbourne in the coming years, fundamentally changing the way we live, work and play.

Thinking of our future economy, how can we improve opportunities for innovation, creativity and entrepreneurship in Melbourne? How do we get there? What are the opportunities and priorities?