Climate Emergency: Why Place Branding Must Respond (And How It Can)

A contribution by our Special Observer, Malcolm Allan of Bloom Consulting – on the climate emergency, urban futures and the implications for place branding practice.

You have something important to share and would like to join TPBO as a Special Observer? Get in touch!

Over the last 12 months The Place Brand Observer has been examining and reporting on a number of interlinked issues that will, together, have a major impact on the offer of places – countries, regions and cities – and on their sustainability, brand identity and reputation. Of singular importance is climate change mitigation to the brands of places.

The premise of this blog is that place brand strategies must respond to the climate emergency and include and promote the actions that governments – national, regional, city and local – are taking or plan to take to mitigate existing and potential impacts of climate change on their place brand offers, actions that enable places to become more resilient and sustainable.

These actions can include:

  • Improving urban resilience to respond effectively to the climate emergency
  • Increasing the de-carbonising of urban settlements
  • Increasing the sustainability of places, e.g. through improved and increased green energy generation, efficiency and management
  • Green and sustainable tourism and destination development
  • Harnessing the internet for sustainable resilience planning

Place brand strategists and managers have an important role to play to

(1) inform their politicians and senior colleagues in governments and municipalities of the importance that people and business now place on climate change mitigation and the need to create resilient communities able to withstand those impacts;

(2) understand what action is currently being taken to create resilience and showcase it as part of the place brand offer, and

(3) inform themselves about the action being taken in other places and its impact on their brand identity and reputation in order that their place might strengthen its identity as a resilient place.

The focus of my contributions as a Special Observer for TPBO will therefore be on identifying actions that governments, places and destinations are currently taking – or planning to take – to ensure they can mitigate the predicted effects of climate change and ensure their places remain resilient in the face of its impacts: actions that their place brand strategies should encompass in their offer to residents, businesses, investors and visitors.

A particular focus will be on increasing urban resilience at the level of cities and towns. Another will be on resilient sustainable tourism and destination development.

The rationale for these foci is that people, businesses, organisations and investors have choices about where they can live, work, study, locate, or visit and spend time and money. They’re asking legitimate and searching questions and wish to know how their existing place or desired places to visit or relocate to are responding to and mitigating the threats and impacts of climate change.

Improving urban resilience to respond effectively to the climate emergency

 An ongoing core focus for my contributions will be the urgent need to increase the resilience of urban settlements to the potential impacts of the climate emergency to ensure they remain and become more sustainable. This will include initiatives to reduce carbon emissions and de-carbonise them, retro-fitting existing building stocks to make dwellings and workplaces more energy efficient, moving away from fossil fuels to more sustainable green energy alternatives, the provision of green energy grids, improved techniques of energy management, green building construction processes, the use of more sustainable building materials, and green energy transportation systems.

Developing green and more sustainable tourism provision and destination development

Another core focus will be the need to adapt current tourism offers and their management to the challenges of the climate emergency and improve their resilience in the face of its challenges. This will include initiatives to mitigate the impact of high volumes of tourists on at-risk landscapes and settlements of heritage value, initiative to ensure that tourism provision and destination management utilise green energy, utilise green and sustainable building materials and construction processes.

Coronavirus mitigation and its relevance to climate change resilience

It is clear that the Covid-19 pandemic has exposed the vulnerabilities of many national, regional and city governments around the world, in particular their lack of preparedness, their slow responses, their confused policy responses and guidance for citizens and their lack of awareness that we cannot return to business and economies as usual.

However, at the level of cities many mayors and leaders of councils are pushing for the adoption of green recovery programs, ones that will help to mitigate both the effects of the virus and the effects of the climate emergency and help places to be more resilient in the face of their impact and challenges. This will be what some have termed “the next normal”, one that is very different from the past.

A key role for central and federal governments in this next normal will be to introduce and implement policies that support green economic recovery programs and stimulus packages for towns and cities to mitigate the short to medium term effects and impacts of the pandemic in a way that accelerates the required transition to more resilient economies and places.

Governments can do so through investment in sustainable projects and practices that will boost new forms of job creation and retention instead of returning to the “old normal” or even a “new normal”, not business as usual wedded to polluting fuels and industries.

With such policies and support cities can recover from the pandemic and build their climate resilience while also supporting the creation of new “future-proof” jobs in sustainable sectors that will increase their resilience to any on-going effects of the virus and climate change.

My next contribution will focus on the need for improved urban resilience in the face of the challenges of the climate emergency.

Please contribute

If you are a place brand strategist or manager and are taking the initiative to include climate change and Covid-19 responses in your place offer and promoting them as core elements of your brand, please let me know so that I can share this in this series of blog posts, as a Special Observer. Contact me by email.


If you would like to hear more about Malcolm’s thinking on this topic then please listen to his two recent conversations with Aleks Vladimirov of AdaptInc, in partnership with The Place Brand Observer.

More about Malcolm in our interview.


Join us at the intersection of research and practice in place branding. TPBO spotlights impactful place brand stories, from showcases to our flagship yearbook. Learn from leaders in our Who is Who World Map. Connect with us on LinkedIn for insights and join our mailing list for the latest place brand impact stories and strategies.

- Introducing: World's Best in Place Branding -spot_img

Latest articles