At this point in time, the UK has not fully entered a Covid-19 recovery phase and the consequences of Brexit are being worked through. It is important to acknowledge that some indicators and research show disruptions, due to Covid-19 especially, which makes planning at a time of uncertainty particularly challenging. We will review our analyses to ensure they reflect current and future trends as and when new or more reliable information becomes available.
Many of the challenges we have identified, particularly those contributing to the resilience goal are not isolated to Conwy and Denbighshire and meeting these challenges are key to us fulfilling our global responsibilities. Carbon reduction, waste reduction, increasing carbon sequestration, reducing health, education and economic inequalities are key examples.
Climate and ecological change is the globally defining challenge of our time. It impacts all living things. The rise in global temperature is causing our climate and our planet to change. The impacts of climate change are hotter drier summers, warmer wetter winters, more extreme weather events and sea level rise. The consequences of climate change are far reaching and cause more drought and wildfire, stronger storms, more heat waves, flooding, damaged corals, less snow and ice and the thawing of the permafrost; changes in plant life cycles and changes to animal migration and life cycles.
We need an economy that regenerates ecosystems and replenishes natural resources. Such an economy would contribute to ensuring that Wales only uses its fair share of the Earth’s resources and meets the well-being goal of A Globally Responsible Wales. Over-consumption of natural resources is putting a strain on ecosystems in Conwy County Borough, Denbighshire, Wales and world-wide.
We are some way to securing a truly globally responsible Wales. To achieve this, we need a highly connective, and regenerative economy that achieves growth but not at the expense of the well-being of the planet or the communities it is home to. Skills, technology, energy, construction, a circular (reduce, reuse, recycle) economy, enterprise, community well-being are all critical to a green economy, as has been discussed in more detail in our prosperous summary.
Analysis of how lifestyles across Europe are driving environmental degradation has concluded that in order to live within environmental limits, profound changes are needed (The European environment – state and outlook 2020). There is a general need to reduce levels of production and consumption in line with United Nations sustainable development goal 12 to ‘ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns’, in pursuit of a regenerative economy. An obvious starting point is to focus on the core systems that are placing the most pressure on ecosystems. These are based around food, energy and transport (European Environmental Agency, 2019).
The global energy system is one of the main drivers of the climate emergency. Wales’s current energy production and consumption creates many pressures for ecosystems and public health here and across the planet. Wales needs to increase its use of renewable and sustainable energy sources, reducing the current dependence on harmful fossil fuels. Resilient communities are those able to successfully adapt to change. The two areas have inescapable responsibilities for meeting carbon reduction and recycling targets for the protection of the local environment and the wider world.
Infection prevention and control e.g. improving ventilation in buildings, importance of strong community networks, resilient communities etc, will form part of our ongoing preparedness for future pandemics. However, the scope and nature of future challenges is vast (see our ‘emerging threats to health and well-being’ topic for more information).
Both Conwy County Borough and Denbighshire contain historic and cultural sites recognised as globally important as well as playing host to international events and being home to communities where the Welsh language and culture plays an essential part of community life, commerce and education. Locally, we also have the responsibility to protect and promote our unique cultural and natural heritage.
Both have landscapes of rare beauty, and scientific importance which are recognised internationally. They provide the habitat for unique flora and fauna including particularly important breading grounds for rare and migratory birds (see our ‘natural environment and biodiversity’ topic for more information).
Nevertheless, as well as having global cultural and environmental significance, the landscape, wildlife, culture and language are key factors in the well-being of the local populations and in the popularity and economic significance of the tourism sectors within the two areas.
Changes in the national and international economies have the potential to profoundly impact upon the two local authority areas and their residents. This will be explored more fully after the Welsh Government’s Future Trends research becomes available.
Critical to future prosperity in its widest sense (not just economic), is an economy based on the principles of fair work, and sustainable industries and services. Some towns within Denbighshire and Conwy County Borough are FairTrade towns, and these support fair pay and conditions for workers on the goods purchased. These towns are Denbigh, Abergele, Conwy, Llandudno.
Though out-migration of young people is a particular issue for Conwy County Borough and Denbighshire, the shift towards a top-heavy population pyramid is not just a local problem. The proportions of young adults in the population has been in decline across most of the developed world for the last couple of decades. International in-migration – which largely occurs in younger, economically active age groups – had provided some slight mitigation for the area in the recent past, but this too has been falling in the last few years. Reductions in international economic migration is perhaps a result of Brexit, but is certainly an indication of the overall reduction in the numbers of young adults in the developed world.
Net out-migration of young adults has a knock-on effect on the whole population structure. As well as being the basis of the working age population that drives our economy, they are also the people who will become parents. Fewer babies being born because of an ‘absent’ parental cohort means even fewer young adults in the next generation, which then becomes a compound effect on the age imbalance in the population.
What people have said
People have told us their concerns about the implications of climate change and have expressed their desire to be more supported and empowered to tackle climate change. Communities want to be more involved in protecting and respecting the environment.
People were positive about waste and recycling services, although some felt that litter problems have worsened. People want more creative ways to tackle this issue, such as through reminders and education, in addition to increasing the number of bins, particularly dog litter bins and those split into general and recycling waste.
The Welsh Government declared a Climate Emergency on 29 April 2019 and on 1 May 2019 the Climate Emergency declaration motion was passed by the National Assembly. Conwy County Borough Council and Denbighshire County Council both declared a climate emergency in May and July 2019, respectively. On 30th June 2021 The Senedd declared a nature emergency and called for Welsh Government for statutory targets to be set to halt and reverse the decline in biodiversity.
Wales’ Programme for Government consists of almost 100 specific areas of activity. Among its ten well-being objectives are commitments to:
- Build an economy based on the principles of fair work, sustainability and the industries and services of the future.
- Build a stronger, greener economy as we make maximum progress towards decarbonisation.
- Make our cities, towns and villages even better places in which to live and work. Embed our response to the climate and nature emergency in everything we do.
- Lead Wales in a national civic conversation about our constitutional future, and give our country the strongest possible presence on the world stage.
Opportunities for targeted interventions
A well-being economy, that is circular and regenerative, fair and just for people and the planet. For more information, doughnut economics describes a situation where we improve economic, environmental, cultural and social well-being within ecological limits. Consideration of well-being economics in service design, including, procurement could lead to better outcomes for people and places locally and those in the supply chain (here in Wales, UK and across the world).
Employment, and decent employment, is critical to securing well-being and reducing inequality and the well-being gap. There are opportunities to increase skills and opportunities in sustainable construction techniques to deliver housing and decarbonising existing homes.
Key questions and areas for further research:
- Do we have information that waste goes abroad?
- Do we have any Sanctuary Towns for refugees?
 Carbon sequestration is the process of capturing and storing atmospheric carbon dioxide. It is one method of reducing the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere with the goal of reducing global climate change.