This Congress is timely - and very relevant. It provides an excellent opportunity to discuss and debate one of the greatest challenges for the Third Millennium - cities of the world, and the urban habitat.
We regularly refer to increasing globalisation, and the enormous steps forward in technology, communications, bio-science and finance. These are the high profile activities. But it is the quality of life in the cities in which an increasing majority of the world's people will live that will be paramount to local populations - shaping the physical form, politics, viability and sustainability of human endeavour. The subject is that important.
Within the theme of 'New Cities', we introduce Melbourne Docklands - Victoria's new waterfront, a 220-hectare waterfront precinct at the centre of Australia's second largest city. It is very unusual to find such a large redevelopment opportunity so accessible and so close to the centre of a major world city.
For decades, the Docklands area was an under-utilised port and rail yards, immediately adjacent to the CBD. Some of the nostalgic images are still in evidence and continue as an important part of the heritage of the area.
But the vision for Melbourne Docklands, and the practical planning, are very much focused on the future city concept - creating Victoria's New Waterfront for the Third Millennium. Already more than $Aust 1 billion of development has been completed, is in construction or is committed to start this year, a further $Aust 1.5 billion is contracted with major developers, and the estimated total investment over the next 15 years is more than $Aust 6 billion.