NOT SO HYPOTHETICAL:
A HEATED CONVERSATION

Client: City of Melbourne, Green Cross
Location: Melbourne, Australia
Project timeline: 2014
Services provided: Facilitation, scenario development, MC
Hypothetically, what would happen if Melbourne had 6 days over 40C? How would our en-ergy, water, transport and health systems and community services cope?

As part of its Melbourne Conversations series, the City of Melbourne hosted a panel discussion around a hypothetical situation: 6 days in a row over 40 degrees centigrade in Melbourne in 2025. The 90 minute discussion involved a wide range of subject matter that experts and members of the community were asked to react to in this unfolding hypothetical scenario. The scenario itself was a complex one, none of the panel had been briefed on its elements, so the conversation was completely unrehearsed.

As moderator, Andrew Wisdom was responsible for wrangling this challenging hypothetical in front of a crowd of approximately 200 people. The conversation was interesting and revealing. Andrew was able to coax the panelists to offer valuable insights that helped illustrate the challenges of the hypothetical and to advance the story, all in the 90 minute timetable. Excellent efforts for a group of unrehearsed technical experts and passionate members of the community who had no inkling of what they were going to talk about! GreenCross Australia has made an edited video of the event available on its website.

Andrew Wisdom developed the scenario for the Geoffrey Robertson-style hypothetical and acted as the MC for the event, held at Federation Square. The scenario was so successful, Andrew was engaged to develop a scenario for a similar event in Townsville around a cyclone emergency.

Climate models point to increasing likelihood of extremes. With concerns around unprecedented heat waves, Andrew’s scenario explored how Melbourneʼs energy, water, transport and systems would respond as community services struggle to meet demand. The scenario was based on fac-tual statistical information, yet was still palatable, entertaining and engaging for the panellists and the audience. Speakers discussed the impacts on Melbourneʼs community and infrastructure, what they’ve learnt, how individuals can cope and how to build Melbourneʼs resilience into the future.

Rockefeller Foundation’s 100 Resilient Cities

This event was arranged as part of an intensive planning week for the City of Melbourne after it had been nominated as one of the Rockefeller Foundation’s 100 resilient cities. It took place on the day the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released its Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability. This report indicates that Melbourne can expect to experience more frequent and longer extreme heat waves in the future. In this context the scenario used was consistent with modelling undertaken by the CSIRO.

For more information about Andrew’s role, see his Inspirations page here.