Sustainability, by definition, is “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs” (Brundtland commission). Sustainable development includes four fundamental aspects:
- environmental and
- cultural sustainability.
Mitigation and adaptation to climate change has brought new aspects to sustainable development. Though the “old” ideas in sustainable planning are valid also when mitigation and adaptation to climate change are considered, new aspects must also be included. The main emphasis in this toolkit is to stress the importance of the sustainable planning process in mitigation and adaptation to climate change.
Sustainable development towards climate change mitigation cannot be made by single decision alone. Sustainability requires an approach that crosses sectoral borders. The policy chosen makes the difference and decisions should be made not only based on the economics, but environmental, cultural and social aspects should also be taken into account. Climate change is not the only factor determining the direction in regional and spatial planning, but it should be an equivalent starting point along with the others.
Resources, such as land and energy, are limited. Sustainable decisions should account for the concepts of efficient and productive use of the resources in a manner that does not harm possible future development. Thus, the environment creates a framework for the economic development, social development and cultural development. Sustainability includes also the idea of the interaction between the stakeholders. Planning is by nature an interactive process between the planners and different stakeholders.
Planning includes regional scale, general scale and detailed scale. The higher level steers the lower level, in legally binding or in some countries non-legally binding ways. The hierarchal nature of planning includes the fact that decisions made at upper levels are visible at lower hierarchical levels.
In the following sections various ideas for mitigation and adaptation work in eight different categories are described (click on the figure for further details). Climate, compact structure, transport, energy and healthy environment are directly linked to planning process. Public participation, strategic planning and costs are more related to the political aspects of planning. This information serves as an introduction and checklists for planners and politicians both when new planning processes are starting and when decisions made are evaluated.