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Future cities: "Success only comes from trusted partnerships"

Our cities are facing massive change – greater in scope and pace than ever before – both in response to climate change and Covid-19. Alongside that, we are also seeing huge advances in technology which provide us with an opportune moment to reimagine our cities of the future.

As such, we brought together a panel of leading experts across local government, academia and business to assess the drastic changes taking place and examine what this means for a collective response in shaping cities.

Being at the epicentre of the coronavirus pandemic, the immediate focus for cities has been to remain resilient and adopt strategies to reduce disruption to both communities and businesses.

This was clearly reflected in our own research which showed 92% of business leaders stating that they have made sweeping changes in response to Covid-19. And they continue to do so as they plan for long-term flexible remote working (44%), downsizing office space (37%) and becoming more digital (44%) in the next 12 months – all of which have the potential to radically alter the make-up of cities across the UK.

Yet to protect the physical environment of cities and help meet the UK’s target of net zero emissions by 2050 it is essential that the changes implemented by businesses are balanced with wider sustainability efforts.

The simple truth is that now is the time, we can’t wait any longer. The Covid situation has to act as a catalyst and success will only come from long-term, trusted partnership between those who are committed to this future.

It is encouraging that four in five (80%) business leaders are actively seeking ways to make their companies more environmentally friendly. But acting alone is not enough. Creating cities that are economically robust and sustainable can only be realised through cooperation with government and local communities.

Indeed, collaboration and partnerships were key themes recognised by the expert panellists, at both a national and local level, as well as between public and private organisations. The development of new and innovative, long-term partnership models between the private and public sector will support local authorities in their response to these current crises.

Written by Philip Wallace

Philip has worked at E.ON for 23 years. He has had varied roles in finance, trading, renewables and business transformation. As Head of City Energy Transformation for E.ON, Philip’s motivation is to improve people’s lives by transforming the cities and communities we live in.