UN Special was invited to a panel discussion on Sustainable Landscapes: Good Stewardship in Landscape Design, with representatives of the American Society of Landscape Architects and the team of young American and Swiss landscape architects who are helping make the United States (U.S.) Mission grounds greener and more sustainable.
The U.S. Mission to the United Nations at Geneva is already known for being the greenest U.S. diplomatic building in Europe, however, Ambassador Betty E. King, Permanent Representative to the UN at Geneva seemed very excited about the involvement of students to reflect on further concepts to make the building and its surroundings even more sustainable and environmentally friendly. The students had developed a number of ideas focusing on design solutions to increase both the well-being of the users and the performance of the duty station. During the panel discussion, the role of landscape design was further elaborated and the audience had the opportunity to raise issues of particular interest, including water systems, vegetation and its impact on the site, parking options and esthetical aspects.
Public parks and buildings of the future will hopefully be accessible to all groups in society, also those with disabilities and birth defects. In this regard, urban planners and landscape architects play a key role in developing barrier-free systems that enable everyone to take part in and enjoy the advanced urban structures that surround us everyday. The rate of disabled people participating in the urban everyday life is increasing due to improved access to aid and adequate policies and measures aimed at adapting planning norms that support access for all.
Following the discussion, it became clear that being a landscape architect involves the ability to bridge the knowledge of a number of different actors within one project and coordinate their expertise to achieve the targets set. The recent focus on sustainable urban planning due to climate change and rapid urbanization has strengthened the role of landscape architects and planning professionals in the fight for a healthier environment and climate neutrality. Their practical knowledge and ability to contribute to the design of eco-friendly living environments is of great significance when developing urban policies in any context or at any scale. This should stimulate more interaction between political institutions and experts in order to face the environmental challenges ahead.
Greater public awareness of the impact of sustainable landscape design empowers the public and stimulates discussion on issues that concern every one of us, namely our everyday interaction with nature and the built environment.