Careers: Planners make change happen

The essence of planning is to be able to cope with change and the future.

Few career paths offer such a diversity of opportunity to make a real difference to people's lives.

The planner's task is to anticipate change and cater for it. This is why so many government initiatives see planning as part of the means of delivering a better quality of life for everyone. Climate change, one of the biggest challenges facing humanity, is a case in point.

The Royal Town Planning Institute has adopted the aim of combating global warming and its effects. Many other professions and politicians have been slower to respond. Planning can help reduce the demand for energy by encouraging the use of renewable sources such as wind, wave and tidal power and installation of microgeneration in homes and offices. At the same time, we need to adapt to the inevitable changes in climate over the next century by considering the future of coastal communities and addressing flooding and water shortages.

Planners have also been at the heart of the regeneration of our towns and cities. River frontages and derelict areas have been transformed and the drift of people out of city centres reversed. Better urban design and public art have been important factors in this trend. Planners have been driving the change.

Planning is a hugely popular subject to study at university. Yet demand for planners is at an all-time high. Planning is also an international activity. Recent United Nations programmes on urbanisation in the developing world have identified good planning as a key to success. No other profession offers so much.

- Jim Claydon is president of the Royal Town Planning Institute.

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