Just published: Resilient people, communities and places - the report of last year's St George's House consultation

Smart Places guide: Environment and energy (5/7)

There has been much debate about whether technology is good for the planet. On the one hand, it has allowed greater efficiency in how we manage scarce resources: less paper, less travel, less wasteful food production, and more sustainable energy sources. On the other hand, it has also enabled more efficient exploitation of natural resources, often without fully understanding the environmental costs of our actions.

Smart places of the 21st century must deal with this dilemma and balance the need for food, energy, economic growth and the material advantages of technology with the impact on the environment.

In the past, this has been a challenge primarily for national government through regulation to reflect wider, longer-term public interest, implemented by local government. In countries that have abdicated that public responsibility to the interests of industry, such as India, there have been significant pollution problems as a result.

While national UK government has a continuing and important role, local government must now take a bigger responsibility in developing smart places that can have a positive impact on the environment.

Publications in this series: