Governments need to create environmental public works programs to give people new hope

Image – Turenscape

In my first article in this series about COVID-19 (Is density to blame?), I outlined that this is my attempt to try to absorb and process what is occurring across the globe. These are hard times, however, we will need to make some hard decisions and sad to say that many will be through necessity and not by choice. These articles seek to address these issues and how we can address them.

Governments have allocated millions, billions and trillions for stimulus and rescue packages for economies around the world to save businesses, livelihoods and provide relief for many. It is understandable that governments wish to maintain the status quo and their citizen’s lifestyle, however, they have not accepted that the world is changing and rapidly.

COVID-19 has sped up the process of technological development through the people having to adapt to an online lifestyle of shopping, working from home, face-timing with family & friends and whilst living in indoors for extended periods. This change is part of the fourth industrial revolution that has been occurring over the past decade and would have occurred (in various countries at differing speeds) over the next five to twenty years but due to rapid change, this revolution is going to occur in a few years rather than a decade or more.

Numerous companies are having to adapt quickly and many will only survive due to bailouts as they seek to maintain their current business model rather than take stock and seek ways to survive in the future beyond 2020. Sadly, the flow-on effect is that many people will be unemployed as their job is either lost or replaced similar to the 2008-09 Recession. This seems to be less so in creative industries such as landscape architecture, however, many firms will need to innovate and change their business model to suit this new world.

The large number of jobs lost will sadly see thousands of people idle and looking for opportunities to earn a wage or change career altogether. Rather than bolster companies and industries that are dying, governments should seek to engage and incentivise the newly unemployed workforce to be able to contribute and look forward to what the world could be and how we can work in new and different ways to solve the problems that we face. These people can be trained to tackle the numerous environmental problems faced by their cities, regions or country.

Governments need to create public works programs and initiatives similar to that of the 1930’s, however, instead of grey infrastructure (roads, dams and airports), they should be looking to create green and blue infrastructure (BGI or green-blue infrastructure) with a focus on resilience. We need to utilise ecological principles combined with the application of technology(monitoring, digital and physical modelling) to implement solutions to the various environmental and economic problems we face. The principles and objectives of these programs and corresponding industries should seek to address the problems of climate change, rising sea level, urbanism, energy, inequality, food security as well as many other areas.

If governments take this step to shift from supporting industries and businesses with ‘business as usual’ mindset to ones who seek to innovate and move forward they will create a bright new future for this decade and century.

Article Written by Damian Holmes is the Founder and Editor of WLA.

DISCLAIMER: This article is for educational purposes only. The content is intended only to provide a summary and general overview on matters of interest. It’s not intended to be comprehensive, nor to constitute advice. You should always obtain professional or legal advice, appropriate to your own circumstances, before acting or relying on any of the above content.

About Damian Holmes 5728 Articles
Damian Holmes is the Founder and Editor of World Landscape Architecture (WLA). He is a registered landscape architect (AILA) working in international design practice in Australia. Damian founded WLA in 2007 to provide a website for landscape architects written by landscape architects. Connect on Linkedin at