IFLA Statement on Climate Change

The President of the International Federation of Landscape Architects released this statement in advance of the meeting of leaders from around the world for the United Nations Climate Change conference in Copenhagen.


Statement by the International Federation of Landscape Architects

“The International Federation of Landscape Architects encourages the development and adoption of a Global Landscape Convention to assist nations working to address the impact of climate change on the world’s landscapes and people. They offer this idea for consideration at the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, on 7-18 December 2009.
‘The leaders will be talking about the landscapes of the world, as we know them, and the future of people and species that live in them, Dr Diane Menzies, the President said. ‘The expected participation by some 100 of the world’s political leaders as well as from numerous other groups reflects extreme international concern, Dr Menzies said.

‘One single change such as sea level rise, will have an immense impact on coastal cities and populations around the globe. Landscapes as we know them are endangered. In preparing an agreed approach landscape architects hope that effects on landscapes and those who live there will be reduced and processes for co-operation to mitigate impacts will be developed.’

‘Countries such as Netherlands have been developing policies to manage landscapes threatened with inundation, but small Pacific Island nations lack the resources to adequately cope with expected impacts. They may lose their homes and islands. There are thousands of kilometres of coastline in my country, New Zealand which will irrevocably change, taking with it the history, ecology, and relations people have built with these loved coastlines. This is just one small example of the immensity of change we must address,’ said Dr Menzies.

The statement released to United Nations continued with the following information.

Landscapes change All landscapes change over time. Climate change though is the greatest threat to the Earth’s landscapes. These threats include destruction of landscapes such as Pacific Islands through inundation caused by sea level rise. They include large-scale damage caused by floods and other weather related events and changes. They include impacts on ecosystems and species, and impacts on special heritage and everyday landscapes. Climate change will separate people from cherished places as they now know them.
Perversely the global thrust to minimise carbon discharge by moving to renewable energy resources including wind turbines, to reduce the effects of increased greenhouse gas emissions, is also having major visual and other impacts on landscapes around the globe. Thus the worlds landscapes (and people) are affected by the impact of climate change as well as current methods to develop renewable energy resources.

Sustainable land use practices
For more than a century since the profession of landscape architecture formed, we have supported the principle of stewardship of land. Landscape architects advocate the wise planning, artful design and careful maintenance of all landscapes through developing sustainable land use policies, ecologically conscious practices and working with communities to enable their loved places to be protected, or integrated into neighbourhoods and cities.

Global Landscape Convention

Based on the success of the European Landscape Convention in forewarning and assisting land managers and decision makers to tackle climate change impacts on landscapes throughout Europe, the International Federation of Landscape Architects is promoting a Global Landscape Convention. This will assist people to address the immense changes that will come about from climate change. We seek your support to promote the value of this idea as a means to address climate change impacts on the landscapes of the globe.

Climate adaptation tools

A project to investigate, assess and promote suitable Climate Adaptation Tools for Sustainable Settlements (CATSS) is currently underway, the task being undertaken by our member the Australian Institute of Landscape Architects. This will provide practical support for those dealing with change and will be available next year. Other initiatives underway will address the Right to Landscape and sustainable infrastructure, all intended to continue to find better ways to manage and minimise environmental risk through sustainable design, innovative storm water management and recognition of community values. IFLA is dedicated to using all traditional and non- traditional tools available to positively influence environmental outcomes including but not limited to climate change. These ideas may include design guidelines through to education and economic tools. IFLA supports the material profiling and economic market place tools being currently developed.

Sustainable by Design
The International Federation supports the International Union of Architects on their ‘Sustainable by Design’ initiative and commend this to decision-makers and practitioners.

Sustainable world
Our members work for a sustainable world and sustainable landscapes using wise practice, methods and tools. We look to the wisdom of decision-makers in Copenhagen to minimise climate change and so reduce impacts on threatened landscapes of the world.”

Dr Diane Menzies
President, International Federation of Landscape Architects
For further information please contact:
In Brussels IFLA Secretariat and web site
In Denmark:

Published in Blog


  1. I am pleased to see the comments, direction and call to action from the world of Landscape Architects. I think this letter is a very important piece that needs be heard. My concern as I read it is the wording and use of landscapes. As I read this statement I believe it truly refers to our whole landscape and that being the cities, homes and land itself. I think as landscape architects we need to work hard to define landscape as more than the cultural nice places that we design. We need to make sure as a profession we begin the dialogue with landscapes and being the world we live in.

    The impacts of climate change are far more devastating to live in general as opposed to discussing the destruction of landscapes as cultural resources. I am not overlooking the importance of their protection and preservation, I do believe we need to work on that as well. I would hope that our profession can be one that bridges the gap in the fight against climate change by blending the skills of planning (regional), contextual design, ecological science and engineering to develop long term solutions vs. simple stop gaps that do not fit long term. Landscape Architecture is a profession that is unique in its depth and ability to lead.

  2. Thanks a lot for posting this, even though I don’t agree. Since many scientists disagree with the “global warming” theory, I feel that landscape architects are unqualified to make a judgment en masse on this matter. I don’t think any organization representing us as a profession should make any statement other than a general one like “landscapes are good.” We simply don’t have the expertise to know for sure that what we do makes a real difference, other than to say perhaps that plants can improve air quality, etc. We are not scientists. I do appreciate your posting it though, thanks again! And also, thank you for everything you do for our profession Andrew, very helpful.

  3. I’m going to play devil’s advocate here…have you heard about ‘Climategate’ and the 1000’s of emails uncovered basically proving that ‘global warming/climate change’ is a total hoax, the ‘research’ has been distorted, and actual data has been deleted? I do believe that we, as landscape architects and citizens of the earth, have a duty to preserve and protect our environment in creating sustainable landscapes but we also have to be realistic in what is economically sustainable. Touting a world-wide ‘climate change’ bill in Copenhagen that has a price tag of around $145,000,000,000,000 dollars (yes that’s TRILLIONS) is not economically sustainable. BTW, Al Gore has canceled his engagement in Copenhagen.

  4. Wow Darcy, that’s frightening. All those 0000s look like a made up number — what’s next? Tomorrow we’ll be a gazillion quadrillion dollars in debt. The world has gone crazy with this, I think. Time to plant a garden and trust God that everything will work out. Yay, Al Gore just lowered global warming by staying home. I’ve heard that his mega mansion uses more fossil fuel than a town. He should walk the talk if he wants to be credible… One more thing – on population… I know a home schooling, organic farming family of ten that uses far less of everything than one single, globe-trotting, lobbying, ultra-environmentalist, gourmet foodie that I know. ‘Just sayin.’

  5. Andrew Revkin on Dot Earth Blog has very thoroughly covered the hacked e-mails from the U. of East Anglia..There is a vast body of evidence that supports anthrogogenic climate change – we as designers of the earth have a responsibililty to understand this issue to the fullest extent possible – there IS science is ALL landscape architecture, and we need to not leave this job to others..
    I want to repeat – the hacked e-mails DO NOT affect the vast body of evicence that supports anthropgenic climate change..

    Secondly, I do not understand how humans can fight against cleaning our earth for our children..Because the actions to fight climate change ARE THE SAME actions we should take towards cleaning our earth.. One cannot deny the vast destruction, species extincitions, that have been caused by the human teechnological advances coupled with a vast increase in human population.. Don’t we want to start to clean up the great plastic patches in the Pacific? Don’t we want our children to see Kilamanjaro with snow, or a snow leopard, or some first growth forests? How can the chlimate change deniers fight so hard to do nothing? I just don’t get it..
    I am proud of this IFLA statement, will gladly pay more taxes to help clean up the earth, and will continue to support green design, vegetarianism, walking not driving, eating local, and all the simple little things we cando to help the earth.
    I live where agribusiness has given us some of the worst air in the country.. All this not paying for environmental destruction has got to stop..
    Who speaks for the trees? How can Landscape Architects not answer, I do!

  6. Hi all, wow some mixed correspondance. Some say climate change doesn’t exist, some say it does. Who are we to believe. If we believe that it does not exist then we can carry on taking from the earth the ‘good’ or the ‘useful’ and using it and concert it to poison which can go onto poison our children and make there future world an almost unberable place to live in. How can we really say that we care or love our children by having attitudes which choose to look over some possible dangers. The truth is we are fed so much information for and against climate change, someone making decisions is either ignorant or knows the truth and is not sharing it. I can’t believe that a society at this stage of ‘evolution’ can’t seem to produce clear answers. I believe we can make a valuable contribution to making this world a better place, and no ones going to take that away from me, and I encourage others to not become discouraged because at the right time the landscape architectural profession will be placed at the forefront of development in many countries. It’s up to us to decide if we want to be put in this position. The opportunities will be presented to us one at a time, we can walk through the door, or we can just stay where we are. What do all of you believe? Do you think we’re just messing around planting flowers? The future for landscape architecture will become exactly what we make it. I got into landscape architecture because I realised it’s potential from early. The firm I work for does valuable socially, ecological and economically sustainable work which benefits everyday people in the City of Cape Town. This is something serious, peoples lives are changed by our design. If we don’t care for the next person, how can we believe we can make a change? We can choose to not make a change in peoples lives. Thats our individual choice. We can choose to critisize Al Gore and his mansion and his jet setting. The truth is everyone makes mistakes, everyone, How was he to get his message out, teleport to china and japan and europe, and everywhere else? He is trying to make a difference, and thats what counts, he cares, he realises a possible threat to the children of tomorrow and is trying, he cares, even if he drives a limo. Those who sit down and will not be counted will be left behind and those striding on the front foot will move forward, they might be discouraged at times but they will get back up, because they live for something more, not just themselves. I am only 25, I haven’t experienced as much of life as lots of people on L8L. I realise this, I could be wrong. But all I know is i’m not willing to take the chance of ignoring possible danger. Good luck to you all in your future work!!! Go out there, make a change and believe for a better future!

  7. I am completely confused by Robin’s statement. She feels the science that has shown us how the earth is being degraded by humans is bogus, and that it is a consiratorial attempt to take profits from the oil companies and monsanto, and put in in ‘environmentalists’ hands – yet she is ‘trained in sustainablity’.? What is the requirement for sustainablity, if one does not feel that our human societies are damaging the environment..No comprendo.. Please explain.

  8. Perhaps Robin is like Al Gore (and the internet), in that the concept of sustainabiltiy was INVENTED by her, without any input from scientists..amazing..
    I have no patience for people who do not want to participate in the greening of the earth for our children..It is going to take a lot of intelligence and insight, and if you start out with some weird idea that science suddenly doesn’t work,and has become involved in some sort of vast hither-to un-known conspiracy to take your money, then I suggest you do some research into where your money is going now..

  9. well said!

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