'What about the people?' - Dr Cathy Baldwin is interviewed about the importance of creating cities to support their communities

Dr Cathy Baldwin, Research Associate and former DPhil student of ISCA, has been interviewed about the global importance of city governments, planners and urban designers creating cities that support the social, behavioural and psychological aspects of communities’ capacity to cope with, and adapt to natural disasters caused by climate change. In the interview, Cathy talks about a new report on the subject “What about the people? The socially sustainable, resilient community and urban development” that she co-authored with Dr Robin King of the World Resources Institute (WRI). The report is summarised in an article published by WRI.

What about the people? looks at case studies in 12 countries across every continent, of initiatives for housing, public space, and transport hubs, and natural disasters such as flooding and earthquakes. In each project, the effects of specific design features and meaningful community involvement in the planning, design, construction and management process on positive pro-community behaviours and states of mind were shown. A set of behavioural norms, thoughts and feelings were revealed that were indicative of strong social networks and social cohesion in communities where projects took place. Social networks and cohesion are often more important for urban communities’ daily health, well-being and quality of life, and coping abilities during disasters than the actual physical structures of cities.

Building on these insights, Cathy and Robin’s report calls for the inclusion of the social and behavioural sciences and public health in high-level planning for climate change coping, adaptation and resilience. They propose a socially-aware planning process and policy recommendation for those drawing up city sustainability and climate change resilience strategies, and urban developers looking to build climate-proof infrastructure and spaces. Cathy and Robin are current adapting the report into a book.

A pdf of the report is available from Oxford Brookes University