4 December 2019—MADRID, SPAIN—On the occasion of COP25, the United Nations climate conference meeting in Spain, the International Union of Architects (UIA) calls for immediate political action to enforce responsible building practices and sustainable architecture and urban design, putting a stop to harmful and wasteful construction.

Architects have a key role to play in surmounting the environmental challenges of our era. “If we hope to halt and repair global damage to the environment, the world’s cities urgently need to apply new, effective design solutions,” UIA President Thomas Vonier said. He added that, “architecture has a huge potential to mitigate the impacts of climate change both on the natural world and on our quality of life.

The ideas and the technology required to develop sustainable urban environments already exist and are advancing every day. In order to use this technology and creativity to their greatest advantage, we now need a radical shift in the relevant legislation. The UIA urges national and local authorities to implement policies guaranteeing that environmental sustainability becomes a key criteria of building practices. Municipalities and governments urgently need to stop indiscriminate destruction of the natural environment by implementing more stringent development controls, making greater investments in responsibly-sourced materials and urban energy efficiency, and carefully regulating urban growth.

The UIA calls for urban policy that respects the fundamentals of sustainable architecture and urbanism: Energy efficiency, water efficiency, land-use efficiency, materials management, low-emission transport systems, pollution reduction.

Through the inclusion of such measures in urban development legislation, policy-makers, architects and urban designers can change the face of our cities and alleviate the human impact on the world in which we live.

Natalie Mossin, Co-Director of the UIA Commission on Sustainable Development, leads the UIA delegation to COP25. The delegation also includes architects from Denmark and Spain.