In March 2022, the Landscape Institute attended its first MIPIM to put ‘green’ at the heart of the debate. CEO Sue Morgan reports on what we achieved at the world’s leading property conference.

    The LI's Chief Executive Sue Morgan and Head of Membership Services Naomi Taylor outside the conference venue

    In March 2022, the Landscape Institute attended its first MIPIM to put ‘green’ at the heart of the debate.

    The conference debate promised to focus on ‘driving urban change’, and the ‘essential value of liveability, sustainability, resilience and affordability’. And – despite reports to the contrary, and early programme releases that didn’t live up to the hype – we were pleased that MIPIM broadly delivered.

    Spurred on by the IPCC report published at the end of February, and building on our presence at COP26 last November, it was important to attend MIPIM to ensure that green infrastructure, green investment, and landscape skills were central to the conversation. Discourse has shifted from avoiding climate change to climate-resilient development – but is this represented at the highest level of the property industry? It’s our job to make sure it is.

    As landscape professionals, we’ve been at the forefront of the climate change conversation since it began. Those holding the keys to policy and investment are finally ready to listen.

    Green infrastructure and ecosystem services, sustainable land use and urban planning, sustainable urban water management, improved water efficiency, and coastal defences – all areas in which landscape professional plan and design solutions – are key adaptation solutions, and can also offer substantial climate mitigation benefits.

    As landscape professionals, we’ve been at the forefront of the climate change conversation since it began. Those holding the keys to policy and investment are finally ready to listen.

    When we first looked at the MIPIM programme, it was the same as always – Cities promoting themselves, conversations about yields and investments, and the latest trends in retail and commercial development. The climate emergency was almost entirely absent. We – and others – were shocked. But the only way you can change a debate and influence people is to step in.

    As LI President Jane Findlay said when she opened our Mitigating the Climate and Biodiversity Emergencies conference this week, ‘We must accelerate our collective efforts. There is no more important time than now for investment in green infrastructure to be taken to the top of the conversation.’

    We sent four senior team members – President Jane Findlay, Vice President Noel Farrer, Chief Executive Sue Morgan, and Head of Membership Services Naomi Taylor – to join over 25,000 property professionals from all over the world to do just that. Between us, we spoke at three roundtables and attended around 60 events over three days. We connected with combined authorities, local authority CEOs, and regional government leaders; three global investment funds; 11 registered practices; six other professional bodies, and design professionals of every discipline. We also gave two press interviews and each walked over 15,000 steps a day.

    Doors and ears are finally open to the necessity of green infrastructure, skills and investment. What was previously jargon is now common parlance

    Being part of these conversations allowed us to listen and learn, as well as advocate. Global financial institutions now finally recognise the looming climate emergency; sustainable credentials are now an imperative, not just a ‘nice to have’. The design community has been talking about sustainability for decades, but have often felt blocked by developers and investors with a different agenda. We have now come together in force to tackle this global issue.

    Vice President Noel Farrer, a MIPIM veteran, tells us that this year it was markedly different. ‘The knowing smiles have shifted. Doors and ears are finally open to the necessity of green infrastructure, skills and investment. What was previously jargon is now common parlance.’

    It was truly heartening to see the points made in our recent Greener Recovery and Landscape for 2030 reports acknowledged and echoed. We were proud to be part of the conversation at the delivery level, helping investors, developers, and designers better understand and therefore deliver more sustainable places.

    Green investment, sustainable development, and landscape are now at the top of everyone’s agenda. And we, as landscape professionals, hold the solutions to many of these challenges. We’ll be maintaining this positive momentum at UK REiiF in Leeds in May, and will keep the conversation going.

    CEO Sue Morgan

    1 COMMENT

    1. Sorry to sound a questioning note, but seriously, are there not better forums for the LI to attend? Was the investment of time and cost really worth it?

      There must be UK conferences much more relevant , attended by more UK developers and UK government, Local Councils, RICS, RTPI, ICE, TCPI, etc and Statutory bodies such as water authorities, where the LI would meet more decison makers and get the chance to talk with them about the benefits of employing Landscape Architects.

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