Architecture and design crucial to climate solution, UN climate summit told

International Union of Architects (UIA) president has urged political leaders to join forces with architects to help turn ‘unsustainable’ built environment practices around and halt out of hand climate change

Thomas Vonier, head of the UIA said architecture and design were a ‘crucial part of the solution’ to problems created by humans.

Vonier made his statement to coincide with the COP24 – formally known as the 24th Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change – which has been billed as the follow-up to the 2015 Paris agreement.

The UIA is represented at the event by directors Ishtiaque Zahir Titas and Natalie Mossin.

In his statement, Vonier said: ‘Current practices in the built environment are unsustainable. The built environment is a major consumer of energy and natural resources and a massive producer of waste. Furthermore, how we build can exacerbate inequalities and affect health.

’The built environment is part of the problem, but through the potential of planning, architecture and design, it is also a crucial part of the solution ... architectural solutions are already there, contributing to sustainable communities and quality of life.

’We call upon governments, civil society and the private sector to help secure tighter government regulation, public demand for sustainable solutions and the investment in new knowledge throughout the private sector and across the value chain of the building sector.

‘The world urgently needs effective solutions. We need designs for cities and buildings that improve all lives, not only the lives of the wealthy or fortunate.’

Vonier called on architects to:

  • Provide basic services for all people
  • Ensure equal opportunity
  • Promote cleaner cities
  • Strengthen cities and settlements against disasters
  • Accommodate refugees, migrants and internally displaced persons
  • Promote safe and accessible public spaces
  • Assist the poorest among us to build better housing
  • Reduce the natural resources used in the building industry

Correction: This article orignally stated the UIA represented over 3 million architects but this could not be verified.

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Climate change