In a video message, HRH Prince of Wales delivered an insightful address to the delegates at the opening plenary of the ICLEI World Congress 2015, lauding the Congress as a place where solutions may be found to “one of the most critical questions of our age,” that of reconciling the “seemingly inevitable process of continued globalization” with the need for sustainability.
Noting the rapid growth in the percentage of urban dwellers across the world, “it is not dramatic to suggest that the very future of humankind rests largely upon whether the dependency between cities and the wider world can be shaped in a harmonious and sustainable manner,” Prince Charles said.
“In recent decades we have generally seen not only progressive physical and mental separation of people from the land that sustains them, but also a great distance between urban areas and the source of their food,” he added. “Global supply networks have of course brought great advantages but in so doing they have created a series of vulnerabilities and risks.”
This is why, the Prince noted, there is a need to “design and plan the expansion of our cities, to become more socially inclusive and resilient, avoiding what has become the conventional urban sprawl.” He has set up the Prince’s Foundation for Building Community, he said, in order to “rediscover time-tested principles of ecological building.”
He further notes: “Shifting away from business as usual is never a simple task, and for change to happen at scale, it is critically important that cities are able to exchange knowledge and learn from one another how best to move forward.
“It seems to me the right time to take a fresh look not only based on where we’ve come from, but also where we’re going. So your World Congress presents a timely opportunity to do just that.”