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Future proofing our town

"There is a unique opportunity to ensure that the infrastructure we build today for tomorrow, is low-emission, resource efficient and climate resilient."

The final theme for COP26, sees Thursday’s focus shift to the very broad matter of Cities, Regions and Built Environment and the conference will examine how we can advance action in the places we live, from communities, through to cities and regions.

We know that climate change causes sea levels to rise, increases the number of extreme weather events such as floods, droughts and storms and increases the spread of tropical diseases. The impacts of such changes will be felt throughout society, and perhaps most starkly in the areas of greatest population density, such as our towns and cities, with significant impacts on basic services, infrastructure, housing, human livelihoods, and health.

With this in mind, it is critical to ensure that towns and cities are a key consideration in initiatives to mitigate and adapt to climate change. Progress has been made, with towns and cities across the world, for example by using more renewable energy sources, reducing emissions and ultimately improving the quality of life for urban residents and visitors. Yet, there is much more that will need to be done.

The United Nations Environment Programme has set ambitious targets relating to cities and communities, recognising that, with 75 per cent of the infrastructure that will exist in 2050 not existing today, there is a unique opportunity to ensure that the infrastructure we build today for tomorrow, is low-emission, resource efficient and climate resilient.

UN sustainable cities diagram
The programmes suggests that future-proofing our cities' infrastructure has many benefits, in that: 

  • Creating incentives for investment in public transport and non-motorised transport infrastructure will improve air quality in cities and help to mitigate climate change.
  • Creating frameworks towards a zero emission, efficient and resilient buildings and construction sector will help to reduce energy demand.
  • Investing in parks and green spaces in urban areas will help to ameliorate the urban heat island effect and improve air quality in urban spaces.
  • Investing in natural or efficient water treatment and management systems to improve water quality and sanitation in cities will reduce water-borne diseases and improve sanitation for poorer populations.

The future of our own town centre must also be designed with climate change mitigation and adaptation in mind. The forthcoming town centre regeneration plan seeks to bring forward a long term sustainable vision, setting out priorities for the Town Centre with a view to ensuring that future development is achieved in a coordinated manner.

Key objectives for the emerging Rugby town centre regeneration planEmerging objectives for the Town Centre Regeneration Plan include:

  • People-first – connecting the town centre to neighbourhoods and destinations, putting public transport, pedestrians and cyclists first
  • 21st Century transport system – creating a public transport system to be proud of which is fully accessible all.
  • Climate resilience – improve air quality, sustainable development, green space and biodiversity. 

You can still have your say on the development of the plan, by visiting www.rugbytowncentre.org.uk and completing the survey.

As always, if you want to let us know what you think on this topic just get in touch.

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