The ASLA signs onto IFLA Climate Action Commitment ahead of COP26

A Greener Future

The ASLA signs onto IFLA Climate Action Commitment ahead of COP26

Dutch Kills Green, a sustainable urban green space designed by WRT in Long Island City, Queens. (mpstudio123/Flickr/CC BY-ND 2.0)

Just days after aligning with a global assemblage of over two-dozen architecture, landscape architecture, planning, engineering, and other related professional organizations as a co-signatory of the Architecture 2030-organized 1.5oC COP26 Communiqué, the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) has formally ratified a Climate Action Commitment initiated by the International Federation of Landscape Architects (IFLA).

The ASLA is one of 77 member associations of the IFLA, a 73-year-old non-governmental organization based in Paris, and one of 17 association members within the IFLA America Region. The ASLA joins a handful of IFLA members in ratifying the IFLA Climate Action Commitment alongside the Canadian Society of Landscape Architects (CSLA), the Chinese Society of Landscape Architecture (CHSLA), the Australian Institute of Landscape Architects (AILA), Sociedad de Arquitectos Paisajistas de México, A.C. (SAPM), and others. This international coalition contains roughly 70,000 landscape architects, who collectively, represent the largest-ever alliance of professionals in the field to ever come together to advance climate action. Specifically, the coalition vows to work together to limit planetary warming to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels. This figure represents the threshold needed to stave off the most catastrophic impacts of climate change, unless drastic and immediate actions are taken to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

“In a year marked by historic flooding in Europe and China and deadly wildfires and heatwaves in the United States, it’s clear we’re running out of time to start healing a century’s worth of harm done to our Earth and its atmosphere,” said Tom Mroz, president of the ASLA, in a statement.

The ASLA’s ratification of the IFLA Climate Action Commitment comes just ahead of the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26), which will be held at the SEC Centre in Glasgow from October 31 through November 12. The Commitment will be presented to sovereign nations in attendance at the 2021 summit, which is hosted by the United Kingdom in partnership with Italy. (It was originally scheduled for last November but postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic; the host venue had been converted months earlier into a temporary medical facility operated by NHS Scotland.) During COP26, member parties will convene to “accelerate action” towards achieving the goals of the Paris Agreement and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

As detailed by the IFLA:

“Landscape architects are uniquely qualified to help prevent catastrophic global environmental and societal breakdown. Through planning, design and management, our work protects and repairs global ecosystems; fosters human health, well-being and happiness; cools the environment and draws down atmospheric carbon.”

Landscapes include complex, interactive systems that provide a wide range of goods and services. With 70 percent of global populations living in cities by 2050, holistic landscape interventions are critical to transformation and sustainability.”

The Commitment itself is comprised of six core goals, all of which the ASLA and its members have pledged to strive toward with the requisite urgency:

  • Advancing the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs)
  • Attaining Global Net Zero Emissions by 2040
  • Enhancing Capacity and Resilience of Livable Cities and Communities
  • Learning from Cultural Knowledge Systems
  • Galvanizing Climate Leadership

“ASLA is proud to be joining forces with IFLA and the global community of landscape architects in advancing our climate action goals,” added ASLA CEO Torey Carter-Conneen. “We speak as one voice, globally, when it comes to advancing climate action.”