Vanguards conference: Newcastle to be showcased to the world

BIG IDEAS: Vanguard delegates Monica Gibson and Emily Davies-O'Sullivan with Hunter Development Corporation's Michael Cassel and Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes.
BIG IDEAS: Vanguard delegates Monica Gibson and Emily Davies-O'Sullivan with Hunter Development Corporation's Michael Cassel and Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes.

EMILY Davies O’Sullivan admits she will feel a touch daunted when Newcastle hosts an international urban ideas conference next month.

“It’s extremely significant for Newcastle,” the urban planner said. “Newcastle will be hosting 50 of the world’s best and brightest minds in urban leadership. That makes you feel the pressure.”

Ms Davies-O’Sullivan was on Friday named as one of the four Newcastle delegates for the Next City Vanguard Conference, an international event which will be held in the city, and the first time held outside North America.

On its website, Vanguard is described as “an experiential urban leadership gathering of the best and brightest young urban leaders working to improve cities across sectors”.

Delegates come from backgrounds including Fortune 500 companies, philanthropy, academia, technology and government, including representatives from New Zealand, Singapore, the United States and United Kingdom.

Ms Davies-O’Sullivan said the conference would be an opportunity to “solve some of Newcastle’s complexities” but also show delegates the city’s progress.

The delegates will examine issues unique to Newcastle, including revitalisation challenges. There will be tours of the former heavy rail corridor and the dilapidated post office, organisers said.

Newcastle City Council and Hunter Development Corporation are among the event sponsors.

HDC chief Michael Cassel said delegates would be challenged to envisage new uses for prominent inner-city sites.

“Vanguards will be given an introduction to the history of Newcastle and will gain an appreciation for its rich social and industrial history,” he said.

The Vanguard conference will be held between November 6 and 10. A public event to showcase the ideas will be held at its conclusion.