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Journal 20 June 2020

HRH The Prince of Wales to launch sustainable urbanisation webinar series

Focusing on sustainable urbanisation that represents “a clear opportunity through which to accelerate change and to inspire a renewed focus on practical action”

HRH The Prince of Wales will officially introduce the Commonwealth Sustainable Urbanisation Online Programme via a prerecorded video message on Wednesday 24 June during the week in which the 2020 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting would have convened in Rwanda. The summit is now set to take place at a later date, to be confirmed.

The series of virtual lectures and panel debates will enable members of the Commonwealth to discuss ways in which they can work together to tackle the challenges of climate change and rapid urbanisation — issues that have been compounded by the effects of the Coronavirus pandemic. Nearly 50 per cent of the projected increase in the world’s urban population by 2050 is forecast to take place in Commonwealth countries.

During the video, The Prince will deliver the following message: “The existing ‘triple threat’ of rapid urbanisation, climate change and natural resource depletion facing countries across the Commonwealth was already challenging enough. But Covid-19 has dramatically introduced a further threat, placing even greater emphasis not only on the role human settlements play in relation to our health as well as our environmental, social and economic wellbeing but also on the vital importance of restoring and enhancing biodiversity.”

Later in the message, HRH will continue: “Nearly everyone in the Commonwealth will have been affected by this pandemic in some form or another, possibly providing time for reflection on those things that really matter to us, our families and communities. Through the inevitable sadness, the losses and the immense uncertainties so many now face, we have also seen the strength of the human spirit, the support and love towards others, the appreciation of place and local community, the cleaner air in our cities, and the way nature has adapted to fill the temporary voids created by the human dominance over the planet.

“Through a post-COVID lens, we can perhaps now see more clearly than ever the acute need for a form of urbanisation and growth that is planned in proper harmony with nature and underlying universal principles, that heals rather than hurts the places where that growth occurs, while ensuring access to key services and opportunity for the benefit of all who live there.

“The programme of events over the next ten weeks provides a clear opportunity through which to accelerate change and to inspire a renewed focus on practical action.”

The Commonwealth Sustainable Urbanisation Online Programme is being hosted by the Association of Commonwealth Universities, the Commonwealth Association of Architects, the Commonwealth Association of Planners, and the Commonwealth Local Government Forum, with support from The Prince’s Foundation, The Commonwealth Engineers Council and The Government of Rwanda.

The chief objective of The Prince's Foundation, of which HRH is president, is to create harmonious communities. Working with partners in the UK and around the world, The Prince’s Foundation promotes and champions a sustainable approach to how we live our lives and build our homes – through education and placemaking initiatives in Europe, Africa and Asia. As part of the webinar series, Ben Bolgar, senior director at The Prince’s Foundation, will co-host a session with Dy Currie, president of the Commonwealth Association of Planners (CAP), on Planning for Rapid Urbanisation in a Post-Covid-19 World.

During the virtual event, Ben will discuss The Prince’s Foundation’s Planning For Rapid Urbanisation Toolkit, developed in partnership with CAP, which outlines a plan of action for how cities can be futureproofed to protect them from the multitude of problems that can arise when new neighbourhoods emerge without appropriate planning. The Prince of Wales’s Charitable Fund provided the Commonwealth Association of Planners with a grant to help develop the Toolkit.

Examples of this have been seen in Bo (a secondary city in Sierra Leone), which is situated amongst ecologically and agriculturally important wetlands whilst also experiencing rapid growth; the population is expected to triple from 174,000 in 2015 to is 520,000 by 2040. Bo is currently using the Toolkit so that it can begin to connect its communities whilst preventing the wetlands being built which is jeopardising agriculture, health and climate change.

To view specific details of the programme visit: eventbrite.co.uk