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Built environment strategies and climate change

UIA Sustainability conference

South Africa will be hosting the seventeenth Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP 17) and the 7th Meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (CMP 7) in Durban this November. To coincide with these United Nations events, the International Union of Architects (UIA) will hold its yearly conference on sustainability in the built environment. Following the UIA events at COP 15 in Copenhagen and COP 16 in Cancun, the COP 17 Durban 2011 edition will further strive to crystallise a coherent set of climate change strategies for the built environment.


UIA Sustainability Conference 2011 Durban, South Africa
29th-30th November 2011

This conference is presented by the South African Institute of Architects (SAIA), under the auspices of the International Union of Architects (UIA) and the Africa Union of Architects (AUA).

Delegates (architectural professionals) to the conference will be entitled to claim the following Continuing Professional Development credits for participation:

SACAP Category One: 2 CPD credits

UIA international CPD credit equivalent: 20 CPD credits

The UIA, the AUA and SAIA welcome participation to investigate the potential and responsibilities of the broader built environment professions and practitioners towards addressing the sustainability imperative, and in particular adaptation and mitigation to the effects and impacts of climate change.

The objective of this year’s conference is to produce tangible outputs in the form of a position paper and commitment to better practice, to inform and equip COP negotiators with a thorough and reliable position and capacity statement from built environment sector and for action during 2012 towards COP18 in Seoul.

The conference will primarily adopt participatory charrette formats, with speakers introducing their positions, problematic and points of views in several ‘sound bites’ (short 4 minutes speeches) rather than formal presentations, followed by professionally facilitated debates where the audience will be invited to interact with the process and the various points discussed.

The Draft Programme is as follows:


MORNING (8:30am – 12:30pm)

Setting the Scene

  • Meet the panelists
  • What’s at the core of COP17?
  • News flashes from the climate frontline
  • A new energy era
  • The power of scenarios

The morning session sets the scene for a 2-day inquiry through a series of punchy, up-to-date inputs from experts in the climate change, energy and COP negotiating arena. These inputs will be interspersed with 3-minute presentations from the panelists where they will each present a snapshot of some aspect/s of recent or current work that is inspiring and/or challenging to them. The morning will wrap up with an introduction to the power of scenarios as a planning tool, and an introduction to David Holmgren’s Future Scenarios, which provide the structure for the afternoon’s dialogue.

AFTERNOON (2pm – 5pm)

Four Future Scenarios

These scenarios are the work of futurist David Holmgren (2008), and explore the various intersections between mild and severe Climate Change and slow or rapid Peak Oil. Each one is a plausible, internally consistent description of what our world could be like when these forces intersect. They provide an intriguing and provocative mental framework to help frame the debate and to support us in making better decisions today. They look 10 – 30 years into the future. Delegates will spend some time in each scenario, using variations on the ‘fishbowl’ dialogue format, and will investigate built environment shaping themes including settlement form, mobility, food security, energy and water, urban-rural dynamics, poverty and inequality, cultural attitudes, politics and economics.


MORNING (8:30am – 12:30pm)

Sketching the contours of a built environment sector response to climate change

The morning’s session will commence with an input on climate finance; the international funding instruments that are currently being negotiated, and their potential for the built environment sector. A range of interactive dialogue methods then follow, peppered with pre-prepared 4-minute inputs from the panelists, as well as inputs from other global thought leaders who will either Skype in, or have been pre-recorded for this session. These inputs will provide both structure and spice through exposing participants to the broadest angle of perspectives, stimulating richer discussion at particular points during the session.

Some of the questions to be explored include:

  • Where are the sector’s highest impact leverage points?
  • What is missing from the debate? What angle or issue, if recognised, would make people reconsider their position or opinion on what should be done?
  • What is innovation making possible around the world that hasn’t been possible before?
  • How best can we develop robust cross-sectoral, transdisciplinary collaborations, within the wider built environment sector?
  • If COP were to give $1BN to the built environment sector, where would we direct it to yield the most benefit?
  • What does success look like? What is the ultimate outcome the built environment sector would want from COP, and COP18 in particular?

Explore these questions prior to the event on an online forum, and interesting inputs from the public will be integrated into the conference proceedings.

AFTERNOON (2pm – 4pm)

Outlining the position paper

A post-lunch special guest will set the scene for the closing session and then delegates will begin to synthesise the thinking that has taken place over the two-day conference into an early outline of a position paper. This will then be developed in appropriate and agreed to ways: online, in focus groups, at meetings, workshops and gatherings through the course of 2012, into a cohesive document for COP18 in Seoul.

For further Information:

Sandy Serraf

021 447 4733