The International Federation of Landscape Architects Asia-Pacific Region (IFLA APR) Congress and Council meetings are held to champion both local and global issues related to Landscape Architecture such as climate change, cultural adaptation and community resilience. At the forefront, landscape architecture addresses localised issues of mitigation and coastal resilience, due mainly to the region's scale and geographic characteristics. However, social sustainability has remained at the margins of professional discussions. Often overlooked are our basic responsibilities as landscape architects in this initiative: engaging with communities first, educating and learning from stakeholders; delivering our basic mandate of creating spaces for human use and enjoyment; capacity building for the present and future users of these spaces; and integrating cultural development with environmental systems.
From November 7 to 9, 2019, the International Federation of Landscape Architects – Asia Pacific Region (IFLA-APR) held the 78th congress entitled, Commonssense: Linking the Commons and Engaging Communities in Sustainable Development at the Waterfront Hotel, Cebu City, Philippines. The congress aimed to gather the landscape architectural community and allied professions to engage in discussions, create bonds, forge connections, generate insights and delve deeper into the commons through different activities that exhibit sustainable developments tied in with the communities and spaces; on how these factors can harmoniously coexist.
The congress was filled with talks by different personalities from varying backgrounds and expertise. The key notes speakers were Dr. Simon Bell from the Edinburgh College of Art, Yossapon Boonsom of Shma Company Limited, Anna Gonzales from Ayala Land, Theresa Lim from Asian Centre for Biodiversity, and Assistant Secretaries Gilbert Gonzales, Ricardo Calderon and Marcial Cabanes Amaro, Jr. from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources. They all gave such inspiring and informative talks that captured the theme of the event of creating collaborative and sustainable spaces and systems.
The event was a host to 4 parallel sessions. Each session had a certain theme, wherein partners and individuals were given the platform to discuss researches and academic papers and share important findings that make landscape architecture a diverse profession.
Professional practitioners from all over the Asia pacific region also had the chance to share their experience and learnings from their projects and practice giving the audience a glimpse of how these companies provide landscape architectural solutions to challenges that the profession faces.
Other than the talks, special events like the council meeting, educational meeting, press conference, sandbox session, and the forum on Transborder Practice in the Asia-Pacific Region by the Professional Regulations Commission were also held. This was an avenue for
governing professionals of the field from different schools, groups, and countries to discuss situations from their respective origins and to collaborate to further develop and nurture the practice. The local communities that were also stewards of the landscapes visited during the tour also came together to share their stories and experiences with the delegates resulting in an empowering and insightful conversation about the native commons.
The event wasn't all work; there was also a lot of play! The delegates were all greeted to the welcome dinner on the first night where they were entertained by the locals with performances that demonstrated the culture of Cebu. This was also reflected in the palatable dinner prepared for them. While on the second night of the conference, the Awards Night was held with performances and delicious food. More importantly, it was the night where landscape architectural works all around the world were recognized. These were truly nights to be remembered!
To conclude the congress on a high note, the last leg included three different tours all around the island of Cebu!
One tour went to the Bojo River in Aloguinsan, Cebu for the Estuarine tour where they sailed through the community-revived and maintained river to learn about responsible and sustainable eco-tourism that involved the local community. The delegates also had a coral watching activity where they saw the reef looked after by the community. They also made some local handicrafts afterwards to give them a taste of the culture.
The second tour was held at Balamban, Cebu. This was the Ridge Tour at the Central Cebu Protected Landscape. The tour consisted of going through the Carbon Forest where the local tour guides had lectures regarding regarding forest management procedures and systems. Afterwards, delegates also made native handicrafts utilizing local products such as abaca.
The last group went to the Olango Island Wildlife Sanctuary for the Island Tour. The tour started off with a boat ride to Olango Island where the migratory birds gathered. Once at the site, different activities, namely mangrove identification, food tasting of local delicacies, and of course bird watching, were enjoyed.
The three day event was a huge success! This couldn't been possible without our various sponsors and partners.
Finally to wrap it up, the ceremonial flag turnover commenced from 2019 to this year's organizer, passing it from the Philippines to Malaysia, where IFLA World Congress 2020 will take place, continuing more dialogues on community driven sustainable developments!
Director of Shma Company Limited
Executive Director of ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity
Chair Professor at Estonian University of Life Sciences and Associate Director of OPENspace Research Centre, Edinburgh College of Art, University of Edinburgh
Sustainability Manager at Ayala Land Inc.
Pack your bags and we're ready to go! Here's some attire guidelines to help you pick what to wear.
Waterfront Hotel and Casino, Salinas Dr., Cebu City
Cebu CityCebu, Philippines