Resilient communities are those able to successfully adapt to change. The two local authority areas have inescapable responsibilities for meeting carbon reduction and recycling targets for the protection of the local environment and the wider world.
The UK Government has set targets to reduce carbon emissions by 34% by 2020 and 80% by 2050 (against a 1990 baseline) as part of the Climate Change Act 2008. These are very challenging targets for reducing carbon emissions and apply to domestic, commercial and public sector bodies.
Waste reduction and recycling is a strength in both local authority areas, compared to other parts of Wales; with an improving trend in terms of the percentage of waste that was reused, composted or recycled over the last decade and more. Nevertheless this remains a challenge and may require significant investment to meet the European target of 70% by 2025.
As well as efforts to prevent and reduce environmental damage adaptation to climate change is already a pressing issue. Ensuring communities are resilient in the face of extreme weather events, notably flooding, is a major challenge.
Adaptation to climate change also brings with it economic opportunities and challenges through the development of new technology. The development of renewable energy production and the digital revolution, which can reduce the need to travel, are already contributing to a more sustainable future for the Conwy and Denbighshire with much scope for further extension.
The management our natural environments requires investment in the context of increasingly squeezed public sector finances. The protection of the natural environment is also a key challenge for the rural economy because of the role played by farmers and other landowners in environmental management.
A major challenge for communities will be adapting to a new age profile brought about by demographic change. Increasing numbers of older people and the continued outmigration of young people are the expected trends. It is increasingly likely that these changes will result in increasing reliance on unpaid care drawn from within the older population itself. Pressure on the NHS and social care’s ability to deliver services to meet the rising demand will mean that communities will have to be increasingly self reliant in order to remain resilient.
In many of our towns we have seen a rise in vacancy rates in commercial properties. While there have also been significant retail developments in both areas in recent years the viability of smaller towns as commercial and retail centres represents a further challenge with relevance to the access to services agenda and the wider viability of historic communities.
Technological change also presents both challenges and opportunities for community resilience. Increasing use of digital technology could reduce reliance on transport and help to cut carbon emissions. Greater flexible and home working could mean that villages and small town benefits from a more vibrant day time community than has been the case in recent years. At the same time technology brings with it the threat of social isolation and also cyber -bullying, the potential for uneven adoption of new technologies also raises the possibility of a deepening digital divide.