Our Place in the Climate Crisis – RTPI Young Planners Conference

10 Nov 21

Urban planning will be at the heart of what is hoped, to be a significant shift in the attitudes to the built environment and development sector, encouraging sustainable practices and policy making.

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At the end of October, the RTPI hosted the Young Planners Conference in Edinburgh, focusing on the past, present and future of ‘Our Place in the Climate Crisis’. It was a fitting lead into the two weeks of climate discussions currently being held in Glasgow, as world leaders are encouraged by activists such as Greta Thunberg to address the ‘blah, blah, blah’ attitude to the climate crisis and put words into actions.

Urban planning will be at the heart of what is hoped, to be a significant shift in the attitudes to the built environment and development sector, encouraging sustainable practices and policy making.

Some of our Young Planners who attended the event, share their thoughts:

Lyndsay Macleod

“The conference highlighted how traditional principles can be brought into the modern world and used to re-create active neighbourhoods, where our streets are safe to walk, wheel and cycle. A key concept for sustainable living and day to day planning.

Further discussions were held around the concept of ‘What’s Old is New Again’, highlighting the importance of recycling in the built environment and referencing circular economy principles, moving from degenerative to regenerative design and furthering its importance in the tackle against the climate crisis.

The conference radiated hope, optimism and pro-active thinking and by reflecting on the past and learning from tested theories, it is clear that the planning profession can lead in the fight against climate change, creating environments and practices that could shape a better, more sustainable future.”

Ruby Ellis

“The RTPI conference focused on how the fundamentals of how we design our spaces plays a huge role in tackling the climate crisis.

Dr Wei Yang, President of the RTPI, presented how the traditional concept of the Garden City which emphasises open space, communities and convenience can be used to shape our environments today, referencing the 15-minute or 20-minute neighbourhood. The concept of creating closer knit communities with focus on convenience and openness is becoming a popular trend given its sustainable principles. Dr Yang concluded that by focusing on ‘communities and not commutes’ encourages a balanced system between people, nature and society, advocating for a holistic, interconnected and integrated ecosystem.

The key takeaway, for me, from the conference is that we as planners have a key part to play in assisting the fight against climate change”

George Baines

“Previous attitudes towards the planning profession and its role in tackling climate change has not always been appreciated or fully understood. Therefore, it was positive to hear Tom Arthur MSP (Minister for Public Finance, Planning and Community Wealth), note that the profession is now at a turning point with planners and policy responding to issues of the day. He noted the importance that all roles have to play, in realising ‘conflict to collaboration’ regarding sustainable approaches.

The conference, and COP26 discussions, have significantly highlighted the opportunity that planning has to make a genuine positive change, and that those younger in the profession will be at the heart of this change in coming years.”

Lyndsay Macleod Senior Planner,Planning