Australia Democracy, devolution and governance , Economy and regeneration

Localisation, sustainability, and resilience in Newcastle, Australia: Harnessing the power of Anchor Collaboratives



  • This briefing is the final in a four-part series exploring opportunities for Local Government to grow local productivity and place-based wellbeing by intentionally adopting Anchor approaches. The briefing is based on the research project Localising Supply Chains commissioned by City of Newcastle, Australia and recently completed through a collaboration between Ethical Fields, The Yunus Centre Griffith University (YCGU), ArcBlue and Future Together Group (FTG).
  • The first briefing in this series introduced key concepts and discussed how Anchor approaches can improve place-based wellbeing; the second outlined an Auckland Council-led initiative to drive social and economic transformation in the South and West of the City through The Southern and Western Initiative (TSI); and the third explored an Anchor Collaborative that developed over time, based on a series of local economic development activities delivered through a partnership between Logan City Council, Queensland and The Yunus Centre Griffith University (YCGU).
  • The series will be of interest to elected members and council staff – including general managers, procurement teams, and others motivated to leverage core council business activities, infrastructure and partnerships in ways which improve wellbeing in their communities.

Briefing in full

As outlined in the previous papers in this series, Anchor approaches include: Anchoring Strategies; Anchor Missions; Anchor Institutions; and Anchor Collaboratives. Across these four approaches, a common objective is seeking to improve place-based wellbeing through delivering core business activities in ways which also address local challenges and/or leverage local strengths. The six domains of activity that can activate Anchor approaches, discussed throughout the series, are presented in Figure 1 below. As depicted, this paper focuses on one of the six activity domains: procurement and supply chains.

Figure 1: Six strategic activity domains through which Anchor Institutions, such as Local Government, can support the places and communities in which they operate (see Briefing #1 in this series for more information)

The Localising Supply Chains project

The City of Newcastle aims for Newcastle to be a smart, livable, and sustainable global city by 2030. Its Economic Development Strategy (EDS) is led by the vision: Strengthen existing and create new economic opportunities for all in the 2020s. In mid-2021, Council commissioned a collaboration between Ethical Fields, The Yunus Centre Griffith University, ArcBlue, and FTG to deliver a research project exploring the role supply chains could play in facilitating growth, sustainability and resilience in the local economy – with a particular focus on localisation methods.

The research project objectives were to:

  • understand the Local Supply Chain Network in the local economy, including leakages and sectors with limited localised supply chains
  • identify best practice principles for encouraging increased localisation within the local economy, including prioritising industries and sectors where incentivisation may be most effective
  • provide practical recommendations for the City of Newcastle to increase localisation of the supply chains within the local economy, so as to increase resilience and sustainability, including related to procurement policy.

Supply chains are a critical market mechanism that can be harnessed to achieve diverse policy objectives, such as those specified for this project. Recent significant events, such as the COVID-19 pandemic and extreme weather incidents, have highlighted vulnerabilities and disadvantages in complex global markets; consequently, there is growing interest in (and understanding of) how supply chains are currently configured and the opportunities that could be generated through alternative (and potentially more resilient) configurations.

Localisation is the process of building economic and market structures that allow the goods and services a community needs to be produced locally and regionally, whenever possible. Localising supply chains means expanding and strengthening a diverse range of supply chain elements that are physically based in and/or are closer to (in this case) Newcastle. These elements include the usual considerations, shown in the outer circle in Figure 2, but in the definition developed through the project also include more nuanced elements such as those shown in the inner circle. Each of these elements is explored in the project report, with the overall finding that combining them offers the greatest potential for delivering improved outcomes across multiple policy objectives.

Figure 2: Supply chain elements that can be localized.
Developed by Ethical Fields & The Yunus Centre Griffith University for City of Newcastle’s Localising Supply Chains Project, 2022

Figure 3 outlines the high-level benefits that can be generated through localising supply chains. For Newcastle and the Hunter Region, through preliminary modelling using data from the REMPLAN Economy Tool, we were able to identify the potential local economic benefit that could result from two ‘scenario-shifts’ in city-wide localised spending, as shown in Figure 4. This kind of hyper-local economic analysis is an essential foundation for developing the business case for localising supply chains, but is not easy to produce as there are few method precedents to draw on and data is most often incomplete.

Figure 3: Highlights – benefits of localising supply chains.
Developed by Ethical Fields & The Yunus Centre Griffith University for City of Newcastle’s Localising Supply Chains Project, 2022

Figure 4: Impact of Local Spend Shift. Developed by Ethical Fields & ArcBlue for City of Newcastle’s Localising Supply Chains Project, 2022

To support action towards realising this potential, the project developed an organising framework we termed Impact Supply Chains. Impact Supply Chains are evident when a purchasing entity (or collaboration of entities) configure their supply chain policies and practices so that existing budgets are harnessed to grow supply networks that intentionally contribute to improving specific and multifaceted policy objectives – such as the localisation, sustainability, and resilience objectives prescribed for this project.

An Impact Supply Chains framework can be applied at the organisational level, and importantly also offers a framework for organising citywide supply chain systems transitions. In this project, we used Impact Supply Chains as an organising framework to help define, identify and prioritise the ‘transition strategies’ that would best support City of Newcastle’s policy goals.

The twelve ‘transition strategies’ recommended, shown in Figure 5 below, were based on a global best-practice scan and provide a broad range of possible actions and initiatives that Council could engage in to further its localization, sustainability, and resilience objectives. To build a coherent set of effective actions, local government will need to actively engage a multitude of stakeholders, develop clear mechanisms for communication and coordination, and present a narrative that invites broad and deep participation from across the region. Tradeoffs will need to be negotiated, tensions managed, and emergence navigated – all to support lifting the gaze towards ambitious goals that support the council’s vision for Newcastle to be a smart, liveable, inclusive, and sustainable global city.

Figure 5. Impact Supply Chains Transition Strategies & Ecosystem.
Developed by Ethical Fields & The Yunus Centre Griffith University for City of Newcastle’s Localising Supply Chains Project, 202

Harnessing Anchor Approaches to realise complex, multi-stakeholder policy objectives 

Given these complexities, the adoption of an Impact Supply Chains Challenge process was recommended and is now under consideration (the Challenge Map approach used was developed by YCGU and draws on the work of Marianna Mazzucato). This includes a focus on improving coherency and understanding around how complex, outcome-oriented, and multi-stakeholder ‘missions’ can be designed and achieved. The Challenge Mapping framework assists with communications, engagement, and the governance of complex initiatives oriented towards particular goals. Missions València 2030 and the Greater London Authority provide two examples of how a Mission-led (or Challenge-led) approach is being applied to complex challenges.

The visual representation of the Challenge process developed for the project demonstrates how the fields of action that underpin the transition strategies can be drawn together into a coherent framework, and used to engage stakeholders and catalyse action. It includes two key portfolios identified as critical first-steps for actioning the Impact Supply Chains Challenge: Fostering an Anchors Culture and Improving Circularity Outcomes.

A key recommendation that could drive the Fostering an Anchors Culture portfolio of activities is to establish and lead a pilot Anchor Collaborative initiative for Newcastle (an explanation of key Anchor concepts is available in the previous briefings in this series. Newcastle is endowed with quality potential Anchor Institutions, a number of which the council has existing strong relationships with. Supporting the Anchor Collaborative recommendation, the action plan includes a range of strategies from across the scaling continuum, starting with City of Newcastle’s own operations and working up to leading city-wide activation. Harnessing the power of an Anchor Collaborative offers Council a tangible approach to leading a collaborative approach to implementation that has the flexibility to evolve and adapt as the Challenge process establishes and deepens, one that can expand into any of the six Anchor activity domains outlined in the first briefing in this series.


This briefing concludes the four-part series on Anchor approaches developed by the YCGU team. In addition to introducing and consolidating key concepts, the series has illustrated Anchor approaches in practice, drawing on three examples. The second briefing, drawing on the work of Auckland Council, evidenced the impact that can be generated through Anchor approaches. The third briefing, focusing on a collaboration with Logan City Council, explored how an Anchor Collaborative journey unfolded over time. This fourth and final briefing, featuring a project with City of Newcastle, demonstrates the potential Anchor approaches have for delivering on complex and diverse policy objectives.

In addition to Anchor approaches initiated, championed, or implemented by individual councils – whether they be as solo Anchor Institutions or working as part of Anchor Collaboratives with other local entities – there is also potential for clusters of Councils to amplify the impact of their efforts through sharing and aggregating data and strategies through establishing cross-LGA initiatives.

Here, to close this series, YCGU expands on the Anchor approaches typology outlined in the first briefing, to add Anchor Clusters as a strategic trajectory warranting experimentation and further research. Local Government peak bodies, at the State and National levels, as well as entities such as the NSW Regional Joint Organisations of Councils, could play key roles in convening dialogues amongst potential Cluster participants, to support consideration and experimentation. We suggest effective Anchor Clusters could become powerful impact generators, and demonstrators of the wide range of valuable contributions local governments make to regional, national, and international policy agendas.


About The Yunus Centre Griffith University

Based in Logan, Australia YCGU has adopted an Anchor Institution framing to intentionally align our work in ways that directly benefit the people, businesses and institutions of Logan, as well as our broader University stakeholders. This series is informed by our exploration of Universities as Anchors-in-Place, by our work with Local Governments in Australia and beyond and by the work of The Democracy Collaborative and that of Julia Slay. This briefing draws upon multiple sources including Community Wealth Building in Australia: A New Focus for Regional Economic Development. It reflects the continuing evolution of our Anchor approach, as shown in Figure 1 of Professor Anne Tiernan’s LGiU briefing (September 2021) Strategies for driving economic regeneration, regional productivity, and innovation which has been modified based on learnings to date. 


Other related LGiU briefings


For more information on this briefing contact LGiU Australia by emailing