Melbourne has been the world’s most livable city in the world for years on end and its economy has been performing well. However, its livability is under increasing pressure and new developments, such as the ‘fourth industrial revolution’, will present the greater Melbourne region with new challenges. What will these challenges look like and how can the region deal with them? Jester Strategy has supported the Committee for Melbourne in developing answers to these interesting questions.

The Committee for Melbourne is the oldest economic development board in Australia. It has existed for over 30 years and is highly esteemed in the greater Melbourne region. The cooperation between government, business and knowledge institutions has ensured that Melbourne has been in the global top-3 of most livable cities for many years. The region’s economy and employment have been equally strong and healthy. However, getting to the top is difficult but remaining there even more so. Especially when so many new challenges arise for many a region.

How to stay competitive and livable in a rapidly changing, unpredictable world?

Over the years, Melbourne’s livability has increasingly become the victim of the region’s own success and popularity. Additionally, the world is changing at an increasing pace. The Committee recognized that Melbourne’s past and current successes are not necessarily guaranteed for the future. New economies emerge and develop, and new technologies pave the way for many possible disruptions. What would a ‘fourth industrial revolution’ mean to a region such as Melbourne? Which opportunities and challenges will this present for the region’s economy and its livability? Making precise predictions regarding this is unfortunately impossible.

Stakeholders collaborated on developing and responding future scenarios

That is why the Committee for Melbourne initiated the ‘Melbourne 4.0’ taskforce. Jester Foresight supported the taskforce in identifying the strengths and vulnerabilities in the region’s current value (generating) system and in developing future scenarios. Throughout the project many stakeholders from the region shared their insights both online and offline on the business model, important trends, and on what possible future worlds could be in which Melbourne could find itself in 2030.

Four scenarios based on geopolitical and technological uncertainties

Two so-called key uncertainties underpinned four possible scenarios of the future. The first key uncertainty pertained to geopolitical changes and shifts. Will the ‘West’ still retain economic and political leadership in the world? Will the system of post-WW II multilateral institutions (such as the UN, WTO, etc.) still remain intact and influential? Or will the ‘East’ rise to prominence and chip away at those institutions, even offer their own alternatives? The other key uncertainty was about the pace and disruptiveness of technology. Will a (disruptive) Technological Revolution take place? In which there is an exponential rate of innovation and those innovations are broadly and deeply adopted, leading to a merger of physical, digital, and biological spheres. Or will technology and innovation progress rather linearly, in an Evolutionary, less disruptive manner? Combining these two uncertainties leads to four pictures of possible futures, all presenting their own opportunities and challenges for working and living in the greater Melbourne metropolitan area.

Scenarios gave rise to nine strategic needs

Based on the major challenges these possible futures might present, several common strategic needs were identified that need to be addressed to ensure that Melbourne’s economy can continue to thrive, whatever scenario would present itself. Several multi-stakeholder taskforces have subsequently been formed to develop strategic options and initiate projects that address the strategic needs.

Want to read the full report?

Download it here. For more information regarding this project please feel free to contact Jeroen Toet.