The Prince of Wales is to pay tribute to the strength of the human spirit seen during the coronavirus crisis as he calls for a renewed focus on practical action to deal with environmental issues around the world.
Heir to the throne Charles will say that it is clearer than ever, through a post-Covid lens, that urban growth should take place in harmony with nature.
The prince’s video message will launch a series of global online lectures and debates in the week in which the biennial Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting was due to be held in Rwanda.
On Wednesday, Charles will warn that urbanisation should heal rather than harm communities – and urge members of the Commonwealth to come together to tackle climate change.
Charles will say: “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.”
Among the 10-week programme of online sessions will be one on Planning for Rapid Urbanisation in a Post-Covid-19 World, co-hosted by The Prince’s Foundation.
Reflecting on the coronavirus crisis, the prince will stress in his message the urgent need for sustainable urbanisation and reflect on how almost all across the Commonwealth have been affected by the pandemic.
“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,” he will say.
“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 prince will say the Commonwealth Sustainable Urbanisation Online Programme debates, panels and lectures offer “a clear opportunity through which to accelerate change and to inspire a renewed focus on practical action”.
Nearly 50% of the projected increase in the world’s urban population by 2050 is forecast to take place in Commonwealth countries.
The webinars are being hosted by a series of organisations including 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 Rwandan Government.