Climate Change

The global climate is changing.  Scientists the world over are certain that human activities have been a primary cause of climate change.  Since the 1950s, concentrations of greenhouse gases have increased significantly, the atmosphere and the oceans have warmed, snow and ice cover has diminished, and sea levels have risen.  As the climate changes, we will see increases in both the incidence and intensity of severe weather events.  Ecosystems and species will be affected, altering the reliability for delivery of ecosystem goods and services on which much of human society depends.

IFLA and its members throughout the world believe that we must act now to reduce our contributions of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere and to sequester carbon (MITIGATION).  We must strive to improve our understanding of the scope and pace of change and the ramifications globally, nationally and locally.  We must plan now to prepare and outfit human society to meet the coming changes to our environments and to our societies (ADAPTATION).  We must work responsibly to support the well-being of individuals and communities, at home and throughout the world, and we must committee ourselves to ensuring the sustainability of our world.

Landscape architects can and should lead efforts to conserve our natural environment and to better prepare society for the path ahead.  Landscape architects know that decisions we make today hold the potential to either limit future capacity for resilience, or to enhance it.  Landscape architects understand that our greatest contributions to ensuring a prosperous future are vested in the creation of human societies characterized by an enhanced capacity for resilience, a willingness to transform to a better state, and a commitment to ensuring the long-term sustainability of environments, cultures and well-being.


RESILIENT societies and ecosystems are those with the capacity to absorb the stresses of small scale or temporary changes, those that can rapidly recover from the impacts of stresses, and those that will not be detrimentally affected in the long term by changing environmental conditions.  Resilience can be a function of individual and collective diversity and strength, which together offer the greatest potential for creativity and innovation to both meet hardships and to seize opportunities in a changing climate.

TRANSFORMATIVE societies embrace change and are characterized by a philosophical, practical and strategic shift in the way people think, feel, and act.  Transformative change continually moves towards a better state of being.  Throughout our history, humankind has reacted to social and environmental upheaval by altering behaviour, adapting to new circumstances and/or migrating to better conditions.  In these next few decades, society must work to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to the atmosphere.  We must plan and act to conserve and enhance the natural environment.  We must build understanding that the world of today will not be the world of tomorrow and act to ensure that cultures, economies and ecosystems continue to thrive.

SUSTAINABLE societies seek to ensure that the decisions they make today to meet their needs do not compromise the capacity of future generations to meet their own needs.  Sustainability (UN 2016) is the overarching goal for a future in which environmental, social and economic considerations are balanced in the pursuit of an improved quality of life.  In a sustainable and prosperous society, humans rely on a healthy environment to provide food and resources, safe drinking water, clean air ad shelter for all its citizens.  Healthy and sustainable environments increasingly rely on the protection, conservation and wise use of resources by humans, to protect systems, functions and species and to ensure their continued viability, especially under increasingly trying conditions.

In the coming months, IFLA and its member associations will be working hard to promote these principles through the work of every landscape architect throughout the globe.  Please join us.
Members of this working group are:

Chair: Colleen Mercer Clarke