While leaders from around the world are currently in Glasgow debating how to ensure climate justice, did you know that good place-making is essential for designing a better Scotland that protects people’s long-lasting good health while helping to combat climate change?

Public Health Scotland (PHS) is supporting the safe and successful delivery of the COP26 conference. We are also ready with other international, national, regional and local organisations to implement the decisions taken to safeguard the future of this planet and those who live here.

PHS is at the heart of a public health system to bring about positive change at a national and local level in ways that reach far beyond an individual’s personal health. One of our areas of focus is on improving many fundamental aspects of population health and wellbeing through place – including planning, housing, transport, use of greenspace, community engagement and food sustainability. A current project is aiming to link environments, or ‘places’, at a local level to the global climate crisis.

The Climate Lens resource being developed will combine with the Place Standard Tool (PST) to help public health planners, local planning partners and communities to better consider the current state of a place, and how climate change will play out in a local area. It will also assist stakeholders think about how climate change will impact on the health and wellbeing of people in communities across Scotland, and how to mitigate this.

The PST was created in a partnership between PHS, Scottish Government, Architecture & Design Scotland and Glasgow City Council, and has proved an effective and widely used means for considering physical and social elements of places. It challenges stakeholders to have targeted and timely conversations to help inform and initiate action towards positive outcomes.

Integrating the climate lens with the PST will offer the opportunity to debate climate within the context of the fourteen themes of the PST.

For example, if we consider ‘Moving around’ from a climate mitigation perspective then the conversation may focus on what activities use fossil fuels such as petrol, diesel, and gas – and what could be done to minimise this. Or, to shift to clean, renewable energy sources.

Then, the conversation would move to what would it take for people to move around in ways that avoid using petrol and diesel (for example walking, cycling, and electric vehicles). This offers the opportunity to discuss the infrastructure required to make these changes.

Due to complete during spring 2022, we hope that the PST with a climate lens will offer the triple win of improving health, addressing the climate challenge and achieving better outcomes for all of Scotland’s communities – which is an essential aspiration while we attempt to manage more than one crisis at a time.

See the award winning Place Standard Tool and find out more about its ambitions on the Place Standard website (external website).

Sam Whitmore is a Senior Health Improvement Officer.

Last updated: 10 December 2021