UIA End of Year Report


2023 was eventful for the International Union of Architects in quite a number of ways. This year, the UIA marked its 75th anniversary, held its triennial Congress and General Assembly in Copenhagen (a city that was also the UNESCO-UIA World Capital of Architecture) and elected its Council for the 2023-2026 term. Since the Copenhagen General Assembly, new national organisations have applied to join or return to the Union. Today, the UIA gathers 112 Member Sections representing the architects’ associations of 120 countries.

At its 2023 General Assembly, the UIA made a number of important decisions with the aim of improving its governance and reviewing its Statutes. The process of revisiting the Union’s structure and proposing ways in which it can be further strengthened has begun.

In the first 6 months of the 2023-2026 term, the following has been accomplished:

1. Task Force Group Recommendations adopted by the General Assembly

Recommendations not requiring an amendment to the Articles & Bylaws in force have been immediately implemented:

  • the Council and Bureau have been fused on an experimental basis
  • thematic Council meetings are held on the first Tuesday of every month
  • the recommended 5 Council Committees have been created (Revision, Ethics, Finance, Communication, Vision and Strategy), as well as an additional Committee on Congresses and Forums
  • 2 Council members have been appointed to lead think-tanks on the involvement of young architects and the role of Past Presidents
  • first discussions have been held with external experts on an appropriate structure for the UIA headquarters, the description of the tasks and responsibilities of each post and the required qualifications
  • 2 Coordinators have been appointed for the year 2024, one for Council Committees and one for UIA Working Bodies, to help concretise the professionalisation of UIA work and achieve the goals of the term

2. increase of transparency and contact with Member Sections

  • a possibility for Member Sections to discuss issues of their concern with the President every first Thursday of the month
  • an auditor has been appointed for the UIA accounts in addition to the expert accountant
  • a permanent legal adviser has been appointed
  • alternate Council Members can participate as observers at Council meetings when the titular member is also in attendance
  • official representatives of Member Sections have the possibility to attend one Council meeting per year as observers
  • Council meeting minutes are published in the Member Area and made accessible to Member Sections

3. Goals of the term

The discussions held by the Vision and Strategy Committee have focused on the following topics:

  • the redefinition and concretisation of the UIA’s global mission, the fixing of priorities and the clarification of the Union’s role so as to ensure its future
  • reflection on the future of the profession, the review of the role of the architect and the definition of an appropriate education
  • the deepening of our understanding of sustainability, the use of architectural expertise to provide responses to climatic and social crises
  • the increase of the UIA’s relevance, focusing on what the UIA can do that Member Sections cannot
  • the reinforcement of the Union’s collaboration with international organisations

UIA work will be oriented towards the development of a white paper on cities and an urbanisation charter developed in collaboration with the Barcelona Congress. These documents will be the thematic focus of the UIA’s work during this term.

4. New organisation of the UIA Working Bodies

Member Sections sent 675 nominations of candidates for the UIA’s permanent Commissions and Work Programmes. This is a great success and highlights the considerable interest in the UIA and its work.

However, a large number of members is not conductive to efficient work and therefore the structure of UIA Working Bodies has been remodelled by restricting the number of members whilst ensuring equal representation between Regions and offering the possibility to all interested to follow their work as correspondents.

The UIA Council has reviewed its Commissions and Work Programmes. The Co-Directors of these Working Bodies have been given specific terms of reference and deliverables that will be conveyed to UIA members on a regular basis.

The Sustainable Development Commission has been divided into two task forces with different terms of reference: the Reflection Task Force (with a philosophical and scientific approach) and the UN 17 SDGs Task Force (to continue promoting the 2030 Agenda).

The UNESCO-UIA Validation Council is now a separate entity from EDUCOM. Council unanimously decided not to proceed to the second stage of Canberra Accord Validation of the UNESCO-UIA Validation System; instead of becoming a signatory member of Canberra, it was thus decided that the Validation Council shall focus on exploiting the potential of the UNESCO-UIA Validation System. Meanwhile, EDUCOM will discuss the role of the architect, define an appropriate education and review the UNESCO-UIA Charter for Architectural Education.

Among the tasks of the PPC is the examination of the global validity of various documents elaborated in previous terms, the review of the UIA Accord on International Standards of Professionalism in Architectural Practice, and the discussion both of the evolution of the architectural profession and of the influence of artificial intelligence on architectural practice.

The ICC has the task of continuing to provide expert consultancy to organisers of competitions and awards, promoting competition culture and advising Member Sections on how to improve their national competition regulations.

In order to respond and develop expertise in areas related to some of the biggest modern challenges, two new Work Programmes have been created: Informal Settlements and Natural and Human Disasters.

All Working Bodies are encouraged to invite external experts to enrich their discussions and to collaborate with international organisations operating in the same field of study.

5. Special events: World Architecture Day 2023 and UIA presence at COP28

The UIA continues its collaboration with international organisations such as UN-Habitat, UNESCO and UNFCCC on initiatives that seek to raise awareness of the relevance of architecture and influence public policy. The UIA 2030 Award and participation in COP28 are concrete examples of the UIA’s advocacy of quality in the built environment and sustainable development.

In reference to the theme of the United Nations World Habitat Day 2023, “Resilient urban economies: cities as drivers of growth and recovery”, the UIA Council chose the theme “Architecture for Resilient Communities” for World Architecture Day 2023. This theme placed particular emphasis on the capacity and responsibility of architecture to create viable community life and opened an international discussion on the relationship between urban and rural areas in all countries.

With the UIA message at COP28, the UIA invited the governments and planning authorities of all countries to address the urgent issue of urbanisation with measures encouraging politicians and clients to cooperate with architects and pass progressive legislation allowing innovative solutions.

6. 2026 World Congress of Architects and UNESCO-UIA World Capital of Architecture

The Col·legi d’Arquitectes de Catalunya (COAC) and the Consejo Superior de Colegios de Arquitectos de España (CSCAE), who will host the 2026 World Congress in Barcelona, have established a working committee for the event in which the City Council, local and national governments are all permanent partners. This engagement has led to the 2026 World Congress of Architects being declared as an event of public interest by the Spanish government. Such a recognition will allow the Barcelona Congress to have a wider reach and a greater impact on future urban policy.

7. 2024 UIA Forum in Kuala Lumpur

The preparations for the 2024 Forum in Kuala Lumpur have reached an advanced stage and registration has opened. As we approach the end of this year, we look forward to a successful 2024 that will culminate with the organisation of the UIA International Forum in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on 15-19 November under the theme of “Diversecity”.

Regina Gonthier
UIA President

Rui Leão
UIA Secretary General