First Ethiopian Landscape Forum, 14th and 15th December 2016

ethipoiaTunji Adejumo, President of IFLA Africa provides this report on the advancement of landscape architecture education in Arica and the first Ethiopian Landscape Forum which took place on the 14th and 15th December 2016 in Addis Ababa.

One of the strategic goals of IFLA is to advance landscape architecture education globally especially in the emerging region of Africa.  IFLA Africa Region is conscious of this vision and adopted an action plan that focuses on increasing the number of qualified landscape architects in the continent. Establishment of landscape architecture programs infused with adequate capacity to respond to social, economic and cultural development of African nations is priority and this was the focus of the first Ethiopian Landscape Forum which was held between 14th and 15th of December 2016.

The Ethiopian Institute of Architecture, Building and Construction (EiABC) hosted the forum on behalf Addis Ababa University, its dual goals were to improve the curriculum of the new Masters of Landscape Architecture program and provide a professional platform for Ethiopian landscape architects that will positively define the future of national urban and rural landscapes.  This was well articulated in the presentations of both EiABC Scientific Director, Joachin Dieter, and Chair of Landscape Architecture, Mrs Aziza Abdulfetah. The forum was structured to consider the global landscape convention, Ethiopian climate change policies and the role of landscape architects as local solution providers to global environmental challenges; and inputs to local landscape architecture education curriculum.

Kathryn Moore, IFLA President, reiterated the importance of global landscape framework as the appropriate model for diverse landscape issues. The International Landscape Convention aims to generate a new standard-setting instrument for bottom to top developmental strategies for urban, rural and natural landscapes as well as to establish an alternative people-sensitive way of thinking about land resources. This paradigm shift sees landscape as human construct reflecting dialogue that occurs between human and ecological processes. Such dialogue is influenced by history, ecological diversity, geomorphic formations, belief systems and, in recent, years climatic anomalies.

Untitled
The impact of climate change on Ethiopian landscapes was at the forefront of Dr Tewolde Egziabeher’s presentation on Ethiopia’s Intended Nationally Determined Communication (INDC) submissions on UN Climate Change Summits (COP 21 and 22). Government policies and strategies for structural transformation of key economic sectors that would demand input from landscape architects as local solution providers on city and regional scales are essential: Tunji Adejumo emphasised how the localisation of the International Landscape Convention would properly position landscape architects as local solution providers to global problems. It requires comprehension of local ecological goods and services and isolation of worldview design templates buried in landscape layers. A balanced landscape architecture education curriculum is also needed as a major driver of local design ideology which is rooted in identity consciousness.

The IFLA President, Kathryn Moore unveiled the Education Capacity Building Working Group, formed in June 2015 which aims to advise institutions in developing nations on adopted landscape architecture education curriculum content. Ways of supporting the institutions are influenced by the needs and environmental policies of the host nation or region.  Some of the possible models include:

  • Support for existing programmes
  • Capacity building programmes at the host institution (face to face experience is important to build networks and support groups)
  • Provision of distance learning (including potential for teleconference facilities)
  • Consultative support and advisory role for the design of courses, modules and staff development

IFLA Education and Academic Affairs (EAA) Chair, Mr AndrejaTutundžić, shared with the forum options for curriculum development using ECLA model. He also discussed the IFLA Standards Charter for Landscape Architectural Education and the IFLA Guidance Document for Accreditation. Mr Graham Young, Secretary of the IFLA Africa Region, presented a case study on the South Africa landscape architecture education curriculum development approach. Round table discussions coordinated by Ms Kelly Leviker concluded that the bottom line is for each nation or institution to reflect on adopted modules that address long term national environmental, urban and socio-economic policies. Interaction with the students, faculty and the EiABC administrative staff was productive and shows willingness for the further development of the landscape architecture profession in Ethiopia.

For more information about the forum contact Tunji Adejumo, President of IFLA Africa, p.africa@iflaonline.org