Mercedes Beaudoin

July 6, 2023

Copenhagen Lessons: Ramboll partners to launch 10 sustainable development principles

UIA Copenhagen 2023, the world's largest event for architecture, releases 10 Copenhagen Lessons: principles constituting a common language for designing built environments to combat climate change, increase biodiversity, and promote social inclusion.

Ramboll and Henning Larsen partner with UIA
The built environment is an essential driver of social, sustainable, and economic development in the world, yet faces challenges from a changing climate, a lack of social cohesion, and declining biodiversity. The construction industry alone accounts for 40% of global CO2 emissions and 35% of total waste.
To inspire actions to tackle these issues, 10 principles labelled Copenhagen Lessons were developed and launched in collaboration between the UIA2023CPH, the Royal Danish Academy of Architecture, Conservation and Design, and the Danish Association of Architects partnering with Ramboll and Henning Larsen. It is the first time the UIA congress is held in the Nordics.
"The UN Sustainable Development Goals define a crucial global agenda, meaning those influencing the built environment must act now to contribute. How we act must be bold - even radical, compared to current architectural and design practices. With the Copenhagen Lessons, we present 10 principles for what that means when we construct, plan, and develop the built environment. The health of the planet and basic human rights are on the line. We have no time to waste,” states UIA Congress President Natalie Mossin.
10 principles to facilitate industry change
To determine the 10 principles for radical industry change, Ramboll and Henning Larsen acted as knowledge partners by collecting data on each principle to emphasise the urgency for action. These are:
  1. Dignity and agency for all people is fundamental in architecture, there is no beauty in exclusion
  2. People at risk are prioritised when constructing, planning, and developing the built environment
  3. Existing built structures must always be reused
  4. No new development must erase greenfield sites
  5. Natural ecosystems and food production must be sustained regardless of the built context
  6. No virgin mineral material must be used in construction where 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 we build, carbon capture must exceed carbon footprint
  10. When developing, planning, and constructing the built environment, every activity must have a positive impact on water ecosystems and clean water supply
The 10 principles aim to create a common language to accelerate change in the industry, both for practitioners and investors, but also to encourage politicians to support local, national, and global built environment legislation. To apply such radical change in and across industries, knowledge-sharing and partnerships are necessary to prioritise and localise efforts and resources.
Finding a common understanding
According to Global Design Director, Urbanism, at Henning Larsen, Signe Kongebro, the 10 principles provide direction for the urgent change needed in the built environment.
“We must stop viewing nature as an infinite resource. For too long designs were made as if mankind owns nature. To sustain human life, we must design for the welfare of all of life on Earth. The data we collected to qualify the 10 principles clearly shows our industry must change from a human-centred approach to an all life-centred approach. We must form partnerships and use data-backed solutions. The Copenhagen Lessons must become a vehicle for change and develop from principles into practical solutions.”

“I am convinced the Copenhagen Lessons—as well as the new alliances formed during the conference—will ensure the World Congress ends with the beginning of something new.”

Mette Lindberg
CEO of the UIA World Congress in Copenhagen 2023

UIA World Congress of Architects 2023 facts:

  • : 135 countries
    The UIA World Congress of Architects 2023 hosted participants from over 135 countries from July 2 – 6 to explore and convey how to influence the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
  • : 2 years
    For over two years, the congress’ Science Track and Scientific Committee analysed how architecture responds to the SDGs, resulting in the creation of six science congress panels: design for climate adaptation, design for rethinking resources, design for resilient communities, design for health, design for inclusivity, and design for partnerships for change.
  • : 3 years
    The UIA organises the World Congress of Architects every three years, with this year’s congress held for the first time in the Nordics. The UIA Nordic Section is composed of Denmark, Finland, The Faroe Islands, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden.

Want to know more?

  • Dan Bjerg Hansen

    Director, Liveability & Urban Initiatives

    +45 51 61 28 83