Coastal towns need to be redesigned for the modern age to tackle deprivation and health inequalities.

Chris Whitty mentioned this but a Welsh redesign needs to be a sustainable one. This could mean exploring the circular city or area model. Circular cities can be understood as regenerative and self‐sustainable systems. The move to ‘full’ circularity in cities and areas relies on high level of innovation in all key sectors including but not limited to society and local communities embedding the social capital of a city or region that should be continuously regenerated, along with human, natural and manmade capital.

Our landscape represents the tangible manifestation of the potential circular functioning of a city or area as a system of people, materials, energy, knowledge, infrastructure, and nature. It is vital to recognise past and present values and behaviours, liveability, and identity of the city or area.

In the territorial sense, ‘empty’, ‘abandoned’, ‘degraded’ spaces represent hidden areas of collective consciousness. These places that are often not visible and thus not attractive can represent resources for regeneration and self‐sustainability of cities and regions bringing new power to their actual and potential values.

The move in the direction of a circular urban economies needs a cultural paradigm shift leading to innovation in all sectors and changes in governments organisation, business strategies, and educational structures, as well as civil society.

The third sector, including social enterprises, foundations, and civic associations, appears to be very active in the organisation of a circular city, also stimulating a new demand of circular products and services and thus opening new market niches for innovative products. This is linked to cooperation and synergies between different actors, which are key to activate territorial symbioses, inspired by the experiences of industrial symbioses in many port areas.

In self‐sustainable systems, cooperation is a fundamental aspect, enhanced by differentiation and uniqueness which lowers the levels of competition creating multiple niches for innovative products and services that can be complementary to each other. An often cited model of the self‐sustainable city is in Czechia: the industrial city of Bata designed around productivity and innovation which is able to regenerate its human and social capital over time, as well as its built and natural capital.

To create circular port cities or areas, we need to explore the implementation, the specific projects and actions towards enhanced productivity in multiple dimensions: economic, social and environmental productivity through optimisation of materials and energy flows, ‘products as a service’ systems, reuse, recycling, and refurbishment, re‐localisation of production, and regeneration of abandoned buildings or entire urban areas.

Great indicators currently applied to monitor the performance of circular strategies are metrics such as the reduction of waste, material extraction, freshwater consumption, and in the general reduction of negative environmental externalities of production and consumption systems.

However, the reduction of negative social externalities such as socio-cultural impact should be embedded in the circular economy model, and appropriately monitored through indicators. To evaluate the circular city and its progress towards self‐sustainability, circular urban metabolism assessment can be introduced, as seen in the De Ceuvel project in Amsterdam, to design urban regeneration in a closed loop.

So how can we view this in Wales? Well much of Welsh trade took place in our ports and waterways. We need to make sure they are adapted to suit modern Wales and strive for circular models. This can be only be successful by listening to local communities.

We need to analyse the indicators mentioned above not only in our great port cities but in our port towns as well. This should be done by councils with the help of government bodies in both quantitative and qualitative manners. Why not make Barry the new Bata or, better still, finesse circular systems that work for Wales?

This will take time but our ministers should be committing to it now. Port cities and areas are great places to start not least because of the history and culture. From Cardiff's Tiger Bay to Caernarfon's Victoria docks, here in Wales we should be taking the approach that every location with a seafaring history, no matter the size or area, should be the Genesis Ark for our circular systems.

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