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Planning Horizons

Future Proofing Society

Ever since the emergence of planning in a contemporary sense around 100 years ago, planners have had to continuously adapted their approaches to engage with the pressing issues of the day.

This Planning Horizons project looks forward, beyond immediate concerns to some of the major long-term challenges issues that will shape the next 100 years, especially climate change and demographic change.

The full paper and a summary version are now available from this project.

Twenty-first century challenges that threaten our future: climate change and demographic change

The challenges of climate change and demographic change are so significant and long-term that they will require widespread and fundamental changes in the way our societies are organised and managed. On its own, planning can't resolve these challenges, but their scale and scope emphasises why urban and rural planning is such a crucial part of the solution.

Future-Proofing Society focuses on three aspects of climate change - extreme weather, water provision and energy supply – and three aspects of demographic change – population growth, ageing populations and social cohesion.

This second paper in the Planning Horizons series focusses on elements of climate change and demographic change and considers the consequences for planning systems and planners around the world. It presents suggestions on how planning can help and why it is crucial in how our societies respond to these challenges.

How planners are responding to these challenges suggests ways that policy- and decision-makers more broadly can make our societies more resilient – effectively to help 'future-proof' our societies for the twenty-first century.

This will require much greater attention to how we organise and use land, how we transport ourselves, how we live and work in communities, how we generate and distribute energy, and how we use water – all in a coherent and coordinated way.

In many ways this returns urban and rural planning – both in the sense of regulating development but also creating and implementing strategies for sustainable development – to its traditional purposes and values, to create better living environments for all people.

Get involved

We welcome the engagement of the planning community in these projects, including practitioners, academic researchers and sister organisations.

We particularly want suggestions of UK and international case studies which demonstrate the role and value of planners and planning in relation to these challenges.

For more information about the Planning Horizons projects, and to get involved, please contact: Dr Michael Harris; Deputy Head of Policy and Research on 0207 929 9493.