IFLA World Congress will be held virtually this year

By TIN Media | Penang News Published 2 years ago on 17 August 2021
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The IFLA World Congress has, over the years, become a landmark assembly of the players in landscape architecture and the built environment industry. Today, ILAM made history in the landscape architecture industry for being the 1st country to organize the IFLA2020 Virtual Congress successfully, Live-Streaming from Penang as the backdrop. And all our participants are still in the comfort of their couch with no plane ticket or hotel room is required like those previous physical congresses.

The IFLA2020 World Landscape Architects Summit and the 57th IFLA World Congress is jointly organised by the Institute of Landscape Architects Malaysia (ILAM), the International Federation of Landscape Architects (IFLA) and National Landscape Department, Ministry of Housing and Local Government of Malaysia. It is the platform where regional delegates share issues, ideas, and inspiration to ensure the landscape architecture profession is ready to face society, environment, and urban living requirements for the next ten years.

IFLA currently represents 77 national associations with five Regional Associations, namely the African Region, American Region, European Region, Asia Pacific Region and the Middle East Region. IFLA, as a global association, embark on a mission to create globally sustainable and balanced living environments for the benefit of humanity worldwide and to promote the landscape architecture profession within a collaborative partnership of the allied built-environment professions, demanding the highest standards of education, training, research and professional practice, and providing leadership and stewardship in all matters.

The IFLA2020 World Landscape Architects Summit has genuinely benefited us in Malaysia in many ways. The Students Design Competition is the first official event of this Landscape Architecture Summit, start taking place in March 2021. IFLA2020 Summit program is followed by The International Student Charrette, happening on 28 – 30th July 2021. An influential Annual International Federation of Landscape Architects Exco Meeting and The World Council Meeting held from 15th-17th August 2021. 18th August 2021 marks this year's eventual Summit program with the 57th IFLA World Congress, Live-Streaming from Georgetown, Penang of Malaysia and duly officiated by our Prime Minister, YAB Tan Sri Dato’ Seri Haji Muhyiddin bin Haji Md. Yassin.  The five-day IFLA2020 congress has attracted 2500 participants from across the globe with more than 120 On-Demand Video contents featuring Technical Visits around Penang and Seberang Perai; Kopitiam event is an Open Studio with the highlights of local landscape consultancy firms; International Student Design Competition winning submissions and also video presentations from researchers, professional design and planning firms, city councils and many more around the globe. There are 50 booths in the IFLA2020 Congress Gallery that offer an exciting Virtual Exhibition experience and opportunities for local and foreign companies to showcase their diverse range of services and products related to the landscape architecture and built-environment industries. This congress had enabled us to cooperate and share the experiences and best practices between countries.  

This year highlighted "Future Tense" as the congress theme supported with four sub-themes, namely: 

Finite Resources talking about issues as the world's population is growing at a startling rate, our limited landscape and natural resources are diminishing fast. This topic elaborates on how the planning and design of our landscape spaces can sustain these finite resources for better living conditions and the environment. 
Homogenous Culture and Diverse Population discuss globalization, and the advancement of the transportation system and connectivity render our cities' population more diverse in ethnicity, religion, nationality, ability and thinking. And landscape spaces are usually "public" in nature, so how could the planning and designing of our landscape spaces cater to these diverse demands, needs and preferences.
Transient Living looks at ideas, inspiration, and technology in advancing the Internet of Things (IOT) that has changed many aspects of our lives. The way we work, communicate, socialize, and play are different from the past decades. These issues are debated and looked for solutions on how landscape can co-exist or complement this transient living environment where IOT is an integral part of our day-to-day life, now and future.
Natural Disaster: Expect the Unexpected is elaborating on the effect of global warming that we are experiencing now, causing the loss of biodiversity and extinction of wildlife. This congress shares how landscape architecture practice helps reduce natural disaster occurrences through new methods, approaches, techniques, and skills.
Apart from the above issues, the Future Tense theme and the four sub-themes introduced by the ILAM committee since 2018 timely provide a foundation of discussion and changing ideas for everyone across the world to deal with the pandemic. Since last year in 2020, the novel coronavirus has hit humankind, and the world has completely changed. Since ancient times, the pandemic of unknown diseases has tormented humanity. On the other hand, they also became the game changers that shook the global scenario balance. The pandemic has been driving us into a time of historic transformation faster than we all here have ever anticipated. The power balance is swinging yet more violently in many areas, including security, technological competition, digital transformation, and the challenging fight against the pandemic.

The lessons we learned from this pandemic will profoundly impact the future of design, cities, public spaces, and infrastructure. The post-pandemic landscape architecture will require the government to invest in public works and public infrastructure. The government will embark on the idea of going local, doing more with less, and accommodating a variety of bigger spaces that act as urban retreats or parks and natural areas around cities. 

One of the critical realizations brought by this pandemic to everyone was "sustainability" – the basis and the core of landscape architecture. Sustainable landscape in urban spaces exceptionally; helps reinforce the value of community. For example, a sustainable landscape is essential in the local neighborhoods when green spaces and natural systems are close to home. 

During the pandemic, food scarcity and inconsistent food chain supply also brought Edible Cities and Productive Landscapes into the idea. These concepts take agriculture as part of the modern urban infrastructure, such as the house kitchen and edible garden, into much more extensive community parks and gardens where people can grow their food. This congress allows us to deliberate ideas to develop and improve our cities by artistically and scientifically integrating agriculture into our urban fabric and understanding it as an essential component of urban life. We have to start thinking of agriculture as necessary infrastructure across a city. Landscape planning and design need to have an agriculture overlay from the beginning of the urban development process.

Furthermore, regenerative spaces facilitate symbiotic relationships and equitable social structures to meet the needs of communities across demographics. Landscapes should be "green infrastructures" that a nation "must-have" and no longer as something that is "nice to have". A sustainable landscape is a necessity that provides multiple benefits to people, the environment and the economy. As the effective and practical solution of post-pandemic living and landscape architects, the landscape architecture profession could be the "essential game changers" of our future natural and the built environment. 

"Future Tense" prominent speakers' in this IFLA2020 World Congress brought us the potential, inspiration, encouragement and way forward for us to continue our effort in fighting climate change, advocating for responsible urbanization, and supporting advanced agriculture. Now is the moment to put the health of the planet before any other human desires. It is time to lead with our conviction that landscape ecology must drive the decision-making process in our built environmental planning and design. We are making this improvement, not for personal fame or fortune, but the sake of our shared humanity and the continuity of our very existence. For more details, please kindly login to our website: www.ifla2020.com


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