Harper Adams University: Commonwealth Games lessons for both UK and Australian hosts in major policy report

A major policy report holds lessons for both the host of this year’s Commonwealth Games – and that of the 2026 Games, according to its Co-ordinating Commissioner.

Harper Adams University Vice Chancellor Professor Ken Sloan served as Co-ordinating Commissioner for the second Monash Commission, which drew together international experts to examine the role that both major world cities and smaller, intermediary cities can play in helping people live fulfilling and rewarding lives.

The Commission’s report, The Liveable Metropolis, was launched to an international audience at the end of July.

Professor Sloan believes it holds lessons for policy makers the West Midlands – which hosted the XXII Commonwealth Games up until this week’s closing ceremony – and in Victoria, Australia – which will host the next games.

Victoria is also the home of Monash University, where the Commission was based, and where Professor Sloan served as Deputy Vice Chancellor and Senior Vice President (Enterprise and Governance.)

Drawing on case studies, evidence and more – including close examination of the Randstad in the Netherlands, Aspern in Sweden, and evaluation of the role that the West Midlands Combined Authority has played in levelling up its region – the Commission’s report highlighted a series of interventions that are needed to address long-standing community issues and improve outcomes for citizens.

Professor Sloan said: “One thread which the report drew out – the importance of interconnected communities and the strength they offer our smaller cities – was very apparent to me during this month’s Commonwealth Games.

“The opening and closing ceremonies underlined the wealth of history, culture and industry across the cities, towns and communities of the West Midlands – and a sense they were part of something larger.

“That sense of community was evident to anyone who attended, or even watched, the Games. It was evident, too, to anyone took part in the build-up beforehand – as we did at Harper Adams, which hosted the Birmingham 2022 Queen’s Baton Relay on our campus.

“It is through this community of interconnected networks, the Commission’s report notes, that we can truly develop the resilience we need to tackle some of the inequities across different social, economic, gender, race and health dimensions which the pandemic laid bare.

“That is as true for regional and rural communities as for cities like Birmingham and Melbourne – and it’s something both cities, and the regions which surround them, can use to develop stronger networks to face coming global challenges.”

While the report’s focus was primarily upon urban areas, it is hoped that it can guide policy-making that affects communities of all kinds – including the rural whose work secures access to food and to deliver sustainable food security for the world’s population.

Monash University President and Vice-Chancellor, Professor Margaret Gardner, AC said: “In the coming decades, global liveability will increasingly depend on functionally networked cities, and long-term national urban plans will increase the ability of local governments to be innovative and future-focused to address the needs of citizens and global challenges, such as climate change and inequality.

“Addressing the challenges of our time cannot rely on doing the same as we have done before. The COVID-19 pandemic has given leaders and governments a unique opportunity to review what liveability means for a wider group of people. Living locally and in nature has renewed our focus – large global cities and smaller cities can work together to effectively address these issues in a new way.”

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