Prince of Wales puts royal spotlight on location efficiency of "new urbanism" as climate change, public health response

Already one of the world's most thoughtful and high-visibility advocates for better community planning, HRH the Prince of Wales (better known as Prince Charles here in the states) is emerging as one of the most thoughtful and high-visibility world figures drawing attention to the role of sprawl in contributing to global climate change and other public health threats.

In an address to the Welsh Asembly at Cardiff Castle earlier this month, the Prince said that sprawling, car-dependent development drives up greenhouse gas emissions and can pose a threat to people's physical and mental health. He championed the development of "walkable mixed communities" as a necessary response. "There are answers to be found and the solution to these problems in large part lies in new urbanism," he told the Assembly.

"Such dense yet human-scaled neighbourhoods embody something called location efficiency – the mix of walkable streets, density, public transport access and access to amenity – and this location efficiency reduces the need for car travel, and hence reduces carbon emissions," said the Prince. "So cities at historic scale are part of the answer to our global environment crisis.

In addition to providing powerfully concise summaries like the paragraph above, the Prince gave listeners another reason to care about these issues. The hastening pace of urbanization means societies have important choices to make about how urban areas take shape and how those choices influence community and global environmental health. "All this must be seen against the background of projections from the United Nations Environment Programme indicating that by 2030, sixty per cent of the world’s people will live in cities, fuelled by migration from rural areas and the transformation of towns into what is likely to be increasingly unmanageable, degraded and dysfunctional cities – particularly in the developing world," he said.

Read the text of the entire speech by the Prince of Wales or read more on the role of compact, mixed-use development in addressing global warming.


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