Sustainability - It's All about Location, Location, Location; Professor Terry Marsden, Who Has Been Working in the Field of Sustainable Development for More Than 25 Years, Argues the Time Has Come to Take a New Approach to Securing a Sustainable Future
Byline: Terry Marsden
The Welsh ecological footprint is currently 4.44 global hectares per person. That means if everyone on the Earth lived as we do in Wales, it would take 2.7 planets worth of resources to meet our needs.
A far cry from the One Wales: One Planet ambition we have for our nation.
With world populations predicted to reach nine billion by 2050, likely shortages of water, food and energy will increase pressure on consumption patterns in advanced and developing countries alike. Meanwhile, climate change is likely not just to have an extreme environmental impact, but also to become one of the greatest public health threats to billions of people worldwide over the course of this century.
No region on earth will remain untouched by these twin threats of climate change and resource shortages. However, the severity of their impact will vary from one locality to another. Besides the problems of carbon emissions and climate change, growing resource costs will force cities and their surrounding regions to radically reassess their existing consumption patterns.
Every city region, including those here in Wales, will have to develop comprehensive, individual solutions to address these challenges.
The challenge we are setting ourselves at Cardiff University's Sustainable Places Research Institute is to find these solutions by harnessing existing expertise across a range of academic specialities.
This will require a radical new approach to sustainable development. It will combine the talents of Cardiff University's world-leading experts from such fields as planning and applied social and psychological sciences, business and law, biological and earth sciences, engineering, architecture and health.
While the science of sustainability has been in existence for some time much of the thinking remains narrow, focused on individual problems without seeing the overall picture. Furthermore, the solutions are often applied with a broad brush with little regard for the particular relationships between economics, ecology and society which are at play in every locality.
Increasingly government bodies are recognising the only way to approach sustainable development is by looking at the whole picture, rather than through separate lenses.
We need to move towards developing solutions rather than simply tackling existing problems, and we must develop these based on the specific requirements of individual cities, regions and nations. A 'place-based' approach is required.
The emphasis on place in sustainability research recognises that climate change manifests itself in different ways in different localities. Also, the way in which each region can reorganise itself in relation to its resources, to other localities, and its population, will impact on the degree to which is can become truly sustainable. …