Berlin-Sydney Online Roundtable

08.05.2015 Homepage

On Thursday 7 May, around 70 invited guests of the German-Australian Chamber of Commerce and The Committee for Sydney made their way to the Museum of Contemporary Art in The Rocks, to participate in the first Berlin-Sydney Online Roundtable and discuss the future of these two extraordinary cities.

Drinks were served on arrival, before guests made their way into the Museum Theatre where a live stream had been set up by sponsoring partner Cisco.

Words of welcome were offered by The Committee for Sydney CEO Dr Tim Williams, Chamber President and Chair of the Committee for Sydney Lucy Hughes Turnbull AO and Australia’s Ambassador to Germany David Ritchie AO. All pointed out the importance of bilateral exchange and mutual learning. Berlin Senator Cornelia Yzer then introduced the Sydney audience to Berlin as a city and explained why economically it is already one of the most attractive locations not only in Germany but throughout Europe.

This notion was emphasised in the following presentation of Ares Kalandides PhD, the main speaker of the afternoon. Kalandides explained Berlin’s continuous evolvement from innovative to creative to smart over the last decades, and pointed out how capturing data about “everything” from socio-economic development to preferred modes of transportation enabled Berlin to manage and drive this change. He elaborated on the German approach of co-determination and the importance of integration of all relevant areas including politics, the business and private sector when dealing with urban development. He also pointed out Berlin’s challenges ahead, particularly in the areas of housing, the integration of tourism and migration, and generally to maintain Berlin’s status as an attractive location for new and start-up businesses.

Tim subsequently invited the high-profile panel, including Jeff Connolly (CEO of Siemens Australia), Tim Horton (State Registrar at NSW Architects Registration Board), Roy Green (Dean of UTS Business School), and Rod Simpson (Associate Professor and Director Urban Design, University of Sydney) to comment on Kalandides’s statements from their own area of expertise.

The online forum closed with a twenty-minute Q&A session, covering topics ranging from the arts as a key factor to attract people and investment to a city, to the German culture of political bipartisanship regarding long term visions for infrastructure and urban development.

Kathy Jones for event sponsor KJA closed the event with some words of thanks to all involved, before panellists and audience had the opportunity to network further over drinks and canapés in the Theatre foyer.

Feedback for the event has already been extremely positive, and the German Australian Chamber envisages continuing to offer a bilateral dialogue between Berlin and Sydney on a regular basis going forward.

You can view more photos of the event on the Chamber's Flickr profile.