What Does Landscape Architecture Have to Do with the SDGs?

June 2, 2016
Editor @17Goals

Quite a lot, actually. More than the creator of beautiful outdoor spaces, a landscape architect employs systems-thinking on a daily basis— designing spaces that maintain balance and harmony between the built and natural environments while at the same time fulfilling the myriad of objectives stipulated by their design briefs.

An engaging botanical garden which restores an abandoned city lot, while at the same time maximizing green space and habitat for local birds, eliminating the stormwater runoff problem, providing pedestrian links from adjacent neighborhoods, and reflecting the history and cultural heritage of the city? Not a challenge that would scare off a landscape architect.

photo-1438157500884-8425f0f9619bIt’s a reasonable guess that a design brief built around the Sustainable Development Goals wouldn’t intimidate a landscape architect either. According to the National Building Museum, landscape architecture “requires a multidisciplinary approach involving environmental science, art, ecology, and much more, leading to extraordinary results like restoring endangered wetlands, reducing hospital stays, securing government and other buildings, and removing toxins from rainwater.”

Landscape architects do indeed have the potential to make a huge impact for the SDGs through their work. If you are a landscape architect, you might ask yourself how you can integrate the SDGs into existing design briefs. If you’re looking for ideas, here’s an article offering a nice overview of the SDGs from a landscape architecture perspective.

For the rest of us– we too have the potential to make a huge impact for the SDGs through our work. Let’s learn from the multidisciplinary approach demonstrated by landscape architecture. It’s exactly what’s needed in our mission to integrate the SDGs into our everyday lives and the architecture of our world.

For systems-thinking inspiration, check out these collections of case studies from landscape architects who are integrating sustainable development into their work:

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