Climate change and biological diversity

Response and commitments to address the climate crisis

The Landscape Institute at COP26

The UK will host the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) in Glasgow from 31 October to 12 November 2021. COP26 is the biggest summit the UK has ever hosted, and the most significant climate event since COP21 in 2015 – the United Nations climate conference that resulted in the Paris Agreement. The summit in November is a watershed moment in human history that will determine the scale of ambition and action to limit global warming and environment loss in the next decade.

Find out more about what the LI is doing in the run up to and during COP26.

Landscape for 2030

The Landscape Institute has published Landscape for 2030, an evolution of our 2008 climate change position statement that establishes landscape as a leader in the fight against climate change and biodiversity loss.

Landscape for 2030 highlights the central role that the landscape sector can play in delivering climate change action, with eleven case studies showcasing the work that members of our profession are doing at all scales. These projects will both demonstrate to stakeholders the multiple benefits that landscape can deliver, and help inspire best practice throughout the profession.

Read the report in full here.

Our action plan

The Landscape Institute has published an action plan outlining how we as an organisation will respond to the biodiversity and climate change emergencies.

In it, we describe how we will:

  • Equip the profession to provide solutions
  • Regulate and monitor the sector to encourage greater sustainability
  • Advocate with governments and industry for measures to address the crisis
  • Lead through our own sustainable business operations

Read the action plan in full here.

Carbon Zero: The professional institutions’ climate action plan

On 17 June 2021, the Construction Industry Council (CIC) published a joint action plan for professional institutions in the construction and property sectors. The LI is a signatory to the action plan, which will coordinate efforts within the built and natural environment professions in meeting the UK Government’s 2050 net zero emissions targets.

Find out more and download the action plan at cic.org.uk.

About

Why have we declared an emergency?

The LI has worked to protect, conserve and enhance the natural environment for the last 90 years. But now we find ourselves in a time of international crisis. The LI Board of Trustees recognises the clear evidence that we currently face a global climate emergency, and the need for action.

In October 2018, an IPCC report claimed that humanity has just 12 years to restrict global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels – a tolerable adaptation threshold beyond which the risks to resources, ecosystems, biodiversity, food security and human life become far greater.

IPBES has also reported an ‘unprecedented’ decline in natural life, with over 1 million species at risk of extinction without ‘transformative changes’.

The LI published our Climate Change Position Statement in 2008. But it is clear that we, governments and society worldwide need to do more. This declaration represents our commitment to a significant long-term shift in thinking, behaviour and policy; and outlines how we will, in the coming 6 months, engage with our members, firms, partners and experts to bring about a programme of real change.

Read more: ‘At the forefront of climate action’ – why the LI Board has declared a climate and biodiversity emergency

The role of the LI

The LI and our members are already responding to the issue of climate change through a range of measures. Our Royal Charter obliges us to act not just in the public interest, but in the interest of place and nature too.

The landscape sector is in an ideal position to deliver effective, sustainable climate solutions. As skills stewards for the profession, the LI has long worked – and will continue to work – to build capacity in our profession across multiple fields.

This important declaration aims to galvanise and inspire our profession to take action. To continue to engage with us on what skills and competencies are most needed to respond to this global crisis. To collaborate with other professions in developing better standards, and advocate for landscape as a leader in infrastructure delivery. And to continue to inspire the next generation to #ChooseLandscape and make a real difference in the world.

Collective action needed

We are not alone in declaring this climate and biodiversity emergency. We, our members and society need to demonstrate a significant change in our thoughts and actions if we are to make a real difference to what is happening.

We have already begun to engage, and offer to collaborate further, with related built and natural environment professions and regulators to harmonise our efforts. We will work, wherever possible, in partnership with others to accelerate the changes needed, including:

  • New regulatory approaches
  • Embedding sustainability further into industry standards
  • Changing our approach to the accreditation of education
  • Sharing good practice
  • Rewarding great leadership and success, for example through the LI and other industry Awards

We will be communicating more with our members and stakeholders over the coming months. If you would like to be involved in this process, please get in touch via policy@landscapeinstitute.org.

This week, the UK Government published its flagship Net Zero Strategy, outlining how it intends to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions across the UK by 2050. While there are some promising opportunities for our sector, the strategy lacks detailed policies for green infrastructure investment, writes LI Policy and Public Affairs Manager Theo Plowman
LI President Jane Findlay and Chief Executive Sue Morgan will be among the delegates at the crucial UN conference in November, where the LI will be championing the central role of landscape and green infrastructure in the global journey to net zero.
Until recently, the world has treated climate change and the biodiversity collapse as separate issues. But the two topics are deeply intertwined, and also inextricably tied to human wellbeing. The LI's 2021 Jellicoe lecture explores the biodiversity emergency and how the landscape sector can respond to redressing the balance.
The International Federation of Landscape Architects (IFLA), a global coalition of over 70,000 landscape professionals across more than 77 nations, are leading the fight against climate change ahead of the crucial COP26 climate summit in Glasgow this November
Reclaiming the Shoreline/The Terrain of Water is a speculative graduate student project developed by Yue Qin in 2019 as part of the Master of Landscape Architecture design studio Actants & Assemblages of Scotland’s North Coast Landscapes.