The International Union of Architects (UIA) holds its World Congress every three years. Hosted in Copenhagen this year, the UIA World Congress of Architects 2023 focussed on the theme “Sustainable Futures – Leave No One Behind”. This event served as a forum for distinguished researchers and professionals of various backgrounds and ages to delve into methods of creating buildings that address climate change, bolster biodiversity and foster social inclusivity.  

Sustainable construction 

At the end of this year’s congress, the “Copenhagen Lessons” were unveiled. Presented by congress president, Natalie Mossin, these lessons are composed of ten simple principles, aimed at rapidly and radically transforming the built environment to align with the United Nations’ 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs). 

Mossin explains, “Our science committee has steered an incredibly ambitious science track, and we have invited diverse voices from practice to help shape the Congress program, with many tracks, and many perspectives contributing to discussions.” 

Kroyers Plads (Square). 
Credit: Daniel Rasmussen 

The Copenhagen Lessons 

  1. Dignity and agency for all people are fundamental in architecture, there is no beauty in exclusion. 
  2. People at risk of being left behind must be accommodated first when you construct, plan and develop the built environment. 
  3. Existing built structures must always be reused first. 
  4. No new development must erase green fields. 
  5. Natural ecosystems and food production must be sustained, regardless of the built context. 
  6. No virgin mineral material must be used in construction when reuse is possible. 
  7. No waste must be produced or left behind in construction. 
  8. When sourcing materials for construction, local, renewable materials come first. 
  9. In everything you build, the carbon capture must exceed the carbon footprint. 
  10. When developing, planning and constructing the built environment, every activity must positively impact water ecosystems and clean water supply. 

                Issue: How can architecture contribute to achieving 2030 sustainable development goals (SDGs)? 
                Solution: The Copenhagen Lessons intend facilitating swift and transformative progress in the field of sustainable construction. 

                “Each World Congress must address its particular moment in time. And 2023 is a significant moment, one that calls for transformation. We are at the halfway mark from the adoption of the SDGs to 2030 – with no time to lose in protecting the health of the planet and human dignity.” – Natalie Mossin 

                Full acknowledgement and thanks go to for the information in this editorial. 

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