Second Cities: Smaller and Smarter Symposium

Newcastle, 29-31 October 2018


Governments across the world are looking for new ways to stimulate and leverage the economic and social contribution of their major regional centres and ‘second cities’.

These second cities represent a significant proportion of the world’s people, economy and activities. They are often characterised by a population of between 50,000 and 1 million people, they have undergone a planned and strategic economic transformation, and they are contributing significantly to the national economy.

As well as easing pressure on their capital city counterparts, second cities are often recognised for providing strategic gateways to regional economies – such as in Australia’s productive ‘resource regions’ that are prominent in New South Wales, Queensland and Western Australia.

As the capital of the Hunter, Newcastle offers a compelling example of an emerging second city. Since steel-making ceased with the closure of BHP in 1999, it has reshaped itself economically and socially over the past two decades. As a large investment of public and private investment heralds its latest renaissance, Newcastle will be reshaped again.

About the Symposium

Second Cities: Smaller and Smarter provides an international platform for airing and contesting leading contemporary thought in urban and regional planning and development. The symposium showcases Greater Newcastle’s experience and potential on its journey to becoming a global ‘second city’. It also offers the opportunity to explore aspects of the important city-region nexus of economic flows, and travel for work and recreation.

Drawing on local, national and global expertise, the symposium provides a forum for analysing, debating and informing thinking on the evolution of second cities toward a state characterised by resilience, sustainability and liveability. It explores innovation and disruption in urban design, city and regional planning, economic development, technology development, health, education, innovation, liveability and wellbeing.

Register now


Keynote Speakers and Panel Members

  • Bernard Salt, Social commentator and demographer, The Demographics Group
  • Michael Pascoe, Economic and finance commentator
  • Sander van Amelsvoort, President Netherlands Chamber of Commerce, Australia and Director of Policy and Research, Committee for Melbourne
  • Michael Nolan, Director UN Global Compact Cities Programme
  • Dr Tim Williams, Cities Leader for Arup in Australasia
  • Katherine O’Regan, Executive Director, Cities Leadership Institute
  • Tim O’Loan, Director of Cities Melbourne, AECOM
  • David Warburton, Former CEO of Auckland Transport, and Chair of Advisors to the Managing Director at Hunter Water
  • Rebecca Casson, Chief Executive Officer, Committee for Geelong
  • Gary White, NSW Chief Planner
  • Professor Kevin Hall, Acting Vice-Chancellor University of Newcastle
  • Kyle Loades, Former Chair, NRMA and 2018 Business Leader of the Year - Hunter Business Awards
  • Dr Jim Bentley, Managing Director, Hunter Water
  • Michael Cassel, CEO, Hunter Development Corporation

View the full list of speakers | View the preliminary program. The final program will be available shortly.


The Second Cities Symposium leads into the 2nd international conference - Implementing the New Urban Agenda and SDGs. This gathering is being held in partnership with the 26th EAROPH World Congress on 1-2 November in Newcastle.

The two events create five days of discussion, debate and knowledge-sharing on the critical themes of cities and urban sustainability. Details and registration


About Newcastle

The coastal city of Newcastle is the heart of Australia’s famous Hunter Region. Newcastle is Australia’s seventh largest and second oldest city. Newcastle was recently identified by National Geographic Traveller Magazine as an emerging global smart city excelling in the challenges of the twenty first century. Newcastle has been recognised by Tourism Australia as Australia’s Coolest Coastal Town and by Lonely Planet as a Top Ten Global City. Newcastle has been four times named a world-class festival and events city by the International Festivals and Events Association.

Newcastle is surrounded by eight spectacular beaches and is home to a vibrant university culture, thriving arts scene and an emerging innovation ecosystem. Located only 160 kilometres north of Sydney, Newcastle is easily accessible by car or train from Sydney, or through direct flights to Newcastle Airport from Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and the Gold Coast. For more information check out Visit Newcastle.

Register now

For more information contact: secondcities@newcastle.edu.au