Towards 2050 Shaping Cairns: Youth Summit

On 5 May 2023, 34 secondary students from across Cairns gathered to explore the challenges and opportunities that come with future population growth. The students came from all over Cairns, most were born here and or have lived here most of their lives.

It was an insightful and busy day as the participants, aged between 13 and 15 years, explored what their vision of Cairns in 2050 might look like.

The day was structured into three areas. First the students looked back over the last 30 years of urban change in Cairns, before delving into what is important to them today. Finally, they gazed into the future and articulated their hopes, aspirations, and wild ideas for 2050.

Throughout the day, they worked individually and in groups to consider a wide range of questions, challenges and opportunities including:

  • What do you love about Cairns today, and what don't you love so much?
  • What's important for Cairns in 2050 - what do you want to protect and take into future Cairns? What do you want to leave behind, and what needs to be sorted so it doesn't appear in the future?
  • How will generational transitions and global mega-trends change the future landscape of Cairns?
  • How might housing in Cairns look in 2050? What will work look like? How will people get around? What makes people want to live in Cairns in 2050? What's important to others in the future?
  • How do we consider the challenges and opportunities to achieve good urban outcomes?

Hands-on activities throughout the day allowed students to delve into the processes of planning in order to understand the inter-dependencies and balance needed in planning for the future.

Two student representatives also attended the Community Summit on Saturday 6 May, to represent the Youth Summit participants and share their group’s insights and priorities with the wider community.

Youth Summit highlights

Students' Wild Ideas for 2050

Youth Summit participants were asked their visions, aspirations and ideas for 2050.

Students' messages from the future

Students were invited to write a message to themselves from the future, describing how Cairns is in the year 2050. They imagined how they want their city to look and function, how people get around, what type of jobs they do and more.

Photo Gallery

Some of the photos from the Youth Summit