Covid-19 and climate change: community vulnerability, sustainability, and the integration imperative

Robert Newell
Ann Dale
Dec 2020
4th Healthy City Design 2020 International Congress

The COVID-19 outbreak has revealed multiple vulnerabilities and gaps in community systems, presenting planners and decision makers with the significant challenge of developing their communities in ways that address these vulnerabilities and increase local resilience. However, effectively responding to this imperative requires thinking beyond solely pandemic responses, and taking more holistic approaches that integrate sustainability imperatives and objectives in long-term integrated planning.

Climate change, in particular, is a critical challenge that will impact communities around the world, and albeit a different crisis, pandemic preparedness and climate adaptation share similarities in terms of needs and approaches for community sustainability.

This presentation reflects on what the Covid-19 outbreak has illustrated regarding community vulnerability to crises, and it discusses these vulnerabilities in terms of both public health and climate change. It will explore key system vulnerabilities related to local economy, supply chains, and social connectivity.

The presentation then argues for integrated approaches to planning and policy following the outbreak in order to increase community capacity to respond to public health, climate and biodiversity crises. Opportunities for integrated approaches are discussed with a focus on three thematic areas: localization, diversity, and connectivity.