Michael Nolan

Global Compact Cities Programme


In this edition of ACUNS’ Current Issues podcast series, host Alistair Edgar is joined by Michael Nolan, chair of the Global Compact Cities Programme. Established in 2003, this “urban arm of the United Nations Global Compact” encourages collaboration between the public and private sectors to help address complex urban challenges. Speaking about the Melbourne Model and examples of cross-sectoral collaboration, Nolan emphasises the importance of collaboration for furthering sustainability. Although collaboration can benefit both groups—and works best when it builds trust between the sectors—Nolan acknowledges that one of the challenges of the programme is addressing the distrust that each group may bring to the table. In spite of these challenges, examples from the programme demonstrate some of the key benefits of this approach.

Global Compact Cities Programme website

United Nations Global Compact website

Urban Thinkers Campus – Ethical Cities
The “Ethical Cities: Locking in Liveability” Urban Thinkers Campus was co-organized by the UN Global Compact – Cities Programme and World Vision to place a distinct emphasis on the ethical city as an urgent objective in the New Urban Agenda. Hosted at RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia, the Campus focused on the principles, policies and action planning aimed at bringing ethics and values to the forefront of city planning, urban governance and sustainable urban development. It explored the notion of the ethical city through three core themes: (1) Ethical Urban Development, (2) Resilience and (3) Inclusion and Right to the City. Ethical cities are environmentally, socially and culturally sustainable, and utilise transparent, accountable, respectful, democratic, and inclusive mechanisms of engagement. This Urban Thinkers Campus proposes that The City We Need is Ethical and Just.

Michael Nolan is the inaugural Chair of the Global Compact Cities Programme. He joins us from a global role which focused on resilient cities with AECOM, an urban planning, infrastructure and environmental consultancy. Michael has over 20 years’ experience in sustainability, climate adaptation and resilience for government and private sectors.

In his role at AECOM, Michael developed a Disaster Resilience Scorecard for cities for the UN International Strategy for Disaster Reduction in collaboration with IBM. He has extensive experience in sustainable infrastructure, climate change adaptation and resilience in Australia, the United States, Canada, China, India, Brazil, New Zealand and the United Kingdom.

Michael has led over 120 climate change impact, risk assessment, adaptation and resilience projects relating to ports, road, rail, local government, water, flood management, power, mining, buildings, facilities, coasts, states and cities. Michael represented the Infrastructure Sustainability Council of Australia in developing the Australian Standard AS5334 Climate Change Adaptation for Settlements and Infrastructure.

Michael is the Resilient Cities lead for the United Nations R!SE initiative focused on risk sensitive investment. Michael has also supported the development of strategy tools for the 100 Resilient Cities programme pioneered by the Rockefeller Foundation.

In his role as Chair of the Cities Programme, Michael supports the programme’s strategic direction and growth. In particular, he aims to increase private and public sector collaboration to increase the liveability and resilience of cities.