IFLA World Congress 2019 Oslo: Post-event update

The 2019 IFLA World Council meeting was held on 16-17 September in Oslo, attended by delegates from most of the 77 national organisations which are members of IFLA. The meeting began with presentations from the Emerging Professional Advocates working group, about their vision for the future of the profession, with action on climate change the clear priority. President James Hayter then made an eloquent plea for action, for IFLA to show leadership on behalf of the global profession of landscape architecture through the declaration of a Climate and Biodiversity Loss Emergency.

Plan IFLA, the business plan guiding the work of the organisation for the next three years, is aligned with the 17 UN goals for sustainability, and James outlined how IFLA will work towards achieving those goals through being focused, accountable, and transparent. He introduced Pamela Conrad, the founder of landscape consultancy Climate Positive Design, who spoke about the pathfinder tool she developed as a way to calculate the carbon footprint of proposed landscape projects, with a strong plea to act and reduce the carbon cost of our work to protect ecosystems. This complements the work of NZILA Fellow Craig Pocock and his research on the carbon landscape. (https://www.landscapearchitecture.nz/landscape-architecture-aotearoa/2019/1/30/the-carbon-landscape-managing-the-impact-of-landscape-architecture).

The Canadian Society of Landscape Architects website contains background documents on climate change for those interested in research findings and evidence for urgent action. It notes that the IFLA Global Accord establishes "guiding principles for planning and design decision-making and encourages collaboration across disciplines and geographic and national boundaries." (https://www.csla-aapc.ca/climate-change/ifla-global-accord)


As part of the same theme, it was noted that the Ecosia browser uses its profits to plant trees where they are most needed, with its website stating that "Our servers run on 100% renewable energy, and every search request removes 1kg of CO2 from the atmosphere." IFLA members were encouraged to consider changing to Ecosia as a simple but direct contribution towards meeting some of the challenges of climate change.


Work is beginning on developing a new code of ethics, aimed at adoption at the WC  meeting in Penang in August 2020. It was felt that the original code needed to be reconsidered in the context of current landscape practice, with input from a workshop during the council meeting and with reference to existing codes from a range of national organisations. The IFLA Code of Conduct will then be updated in the context of principles established through the new code.

Finally, conference updates were presented from Malaysia (Regional and World Congress in Penang, 13-15 August 2020); Japan (Regional Congress in Tokyo, October-November 2021); and South Korea (Regional Congress in Kyung-ju, 2022). The 56th World Council meeting closed with a vote of thanks to James Hayter, for his great leadership during the meeting, and his untiring work on behalf of landscape architects internationally.

Assoc. Prof. Mike Barthelmeh

IFLA APR Hon. Sec.