Local responses to big economic challenges

An international conference hosted by James Cook University this week holds special relevance for regional and vulnerable communities.

The International Conference on Business, Economics, Management and Sustainability (BEMAS) will look beyond orthodox economics to consider approaches that might better suit particular communities.

“When we look for ways to survive and thrive in the face of risks such as climate change and a global pandemic, we need to move beyond a one-response-fits-all approach,” conference chair Associate Professor Taha Chaiechi said.

“This is particularly important for vulnerable and at-risk communities, which tend to be more susceptible to external risks such as natural disasters and public health emergencies.

“On the positive side, each community has particular assets and potential that it can bring to bear on these challenges. To achieve sustainable development we need to identify the untapped skills and knowledge that each community can use to adapt to or overcome the challenges they face,” she said.

This conference follows on from the successful Urban Thinkers Campus event, which JCU hosted in Cairns in 2019.

“At that pre-COVID event, we brought together national, international and local thinkers to share ideas about the urban space,” Dr Chaiechi said. “Of course for people in our region that included discussion of how to plan for the tropics, how to cool our urban spaces, and how smaller regional centres can grow without losing the things we love about our communities.”

This year’s conference will follow the themes of community empowerment, sustainable cities and transformative economies.

BEMAS is hosted by JCU’s Centre for International Trade and Business in Asia and is underway at the University’s Nguma-bada campus in Smithfield.

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