A Landscape Architecture guide to the 17 Sustainable Development Goals

Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development

Since 1945, the United Nations has aimed to be a centre for harmonizing nations’ actions across the earth. Whilst the primary aim for its foundation was to maintain international peace and security after the second world war, the extreme environmental challenges we face as a planet have driven the United Nations to embrace governance towards sustainable development. In 2016, the United Nations set out a global Agenda entitled Transforming our World: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The text of the Agenda proposes a global action plan to achieve prosperity for people while embracing a shift towards a sustainable and resilient path for development. The Agenda is articulated in 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) and 169 targets, balancing the three dimensions of sustainable development as defined by the Brundtland report in 1987: economy, equity and environment. The philosophy of governance for the 2030 Agenda aims to integrate the governments of all 196 UN member nations and all other private and public stakeholders to impact society effectively. Professional organizations have a specific role in enacting the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda – Landscape Architecture is a discipline with the potential to address all 17 SDGs.

Consequently, the International Federation of Landscape Architects, through its Executive Committee, embraced a shift within its governance, including organisational structure and business plan, to reflect on and support the 2030 Agenda. This publication aims to visualize the contribution of Landscape Architecture to the Agenda and, more specifically, by means of case studies show outstanding achievements by practitioners in enacting the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

This publication has three aims:

On the one hand, it illustrates the recent actions by IFLA concerning the Sustainable Development Goals by giving voice to the five IFLA Regions: Africa, Americas, Europe, Middle East and the Asia Pacific; IFLA’s four Standing Committees: Education, Professional Practice, Communication and Finances; and IFLA’s Working Groups. By aligning goals and targets, we identify strategic cooperation with United Nations departments, programs, institutes, and advisory bodies. The publication also reveals ongoing activity (2016-2021) and illustrates IFLA’s future actions in support of the SDG-s and their targets.

Secondly, the publication aims to illustrate the 17 Sustainable Development Goals with case studies of works selected from projects that have been completed by Landscape Architecture practices globally. Cooperation between IFLA and the Barcelona International Biennial of Landscape Architecture and its International Rosa Barba Prize aims to determine an internationally recognized sample of best practice for effective communication. The case studies selected address the promotion of each of the Sustainable Development Goals and illustrate the wide range of planning, design and management projects where Landscape Architects have committed to sustainable practice. The intention is to showcase the direct contribution by Landscape Architects through professional practice to the 2030 Agenda.

Thirdly, the two previous aims complement a global survey conducted by IFLA through its membership, the seventy-seven National Associations representing the profession of Landscape Architecture globally, confirming IFLA as the international umbrella organization representing the Landscape Architecture profession globally. Led by the Professional Practice and Policy Chair, IFLA established in 2020 a survey to evaluate knowledge, acceptance and national based activity related to the Agenda for Sustainable Development amongst member National Associations. The purpose is to understand better and disseminate on-going national initiatives among the IFLA membership, thereby contributing to the raising of awareness and sharing of knowledge, skills and techniques in support of Landscape Architecture’s drive for sustainable development.

This Landscape Architecture Guide to the 17 Sustainable Development Goals aims to render visible the potential of Landscape Architecture to be a key contributor to the 2030 Agenda, promoting IFLA’s contribution through leadership and practical example, the Rosa Barba awarded projects as exemplar case studies, and the actions currently being taken at an association and national level throughout the world. It is a humble publication with an ambitious goal, to inspire practitioners and all those concerned with a sustainable planet to passionately work towards this global project. Every project, initiative and action counts, and we will be most effective if we work collectively and with a common focus to make change possible.

On behalf of the Editorial Committee,

Marina Cervera Alonso de Medina, Chief Editor.

Find the publication A Landscape Architecture Guide to UN 17 SDGs