Australian Architects Declare Strategic planning Statement

Australian Architects Declare – Strategic Planning Statement

Prepared by Talina Edwards in collaboration with the Australian Architects Declare National Steering Committee Feb 2020


The twin crises of climate breakdown and biodiversity loss are the most serious issue of our time. Globally, buildings and construction play a major part, accounting for nearly 40% of energy-related carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions whilst also having a significant impact on our natural habitats.

For everyone working in the construction industry, meeting the needs of our society without breaching the earth’s ecological boundaries will demand a paradigm shift in our behaviour. Together with our clients, we will need to commission and design buildings, cities and infrastructures as indivisible components of a larger, constantly regenerating and self-sustaining system.

The research and technology exist for us to begin that transformation now, but what has been lacking is collective will. Recognising this, we are committing to strengthen our working practices to create architecture and urbanism that has a more positive impact on the world around us.


PURPOSE STATEMENT (Why do we exist?)

TO empower Architects to create a paradigm shift in our behaviour and take responsibility for action in our own lives and practices

IN A WAY THAT the creation of Buildings and Cities will no longer be the problem, but a catalyst towards the regeneration of the planet

SO THAT we can live in a constantly regenerating and self-sustaining world where we collaboratively work towards the health of people and ecosystems

“Transformation, Unity, Leadership” 


VISION (Where are we headed?)

Our vision  is of a constantly regenerating and self-sustaining world, where architects engage their talents in creating the paradigm shift in behaviour in the construction industry that will enable us all to collaboratively commission and design buildings, cities and infrastructures as indivisible components of this larger healthy system.

Our vision is for a “delightfully diverse, safe, healthy, and just world with clean air, water, soil, and power  – economically, equitable, ecologically, and elegantly enjoyed” (William McDonough & Michael Braungart, The Upcycle: Beyond Sustainability – Designing for Abundance)


MISSION (Who are we and what do we value?) 

  • The Architects Declare movement is spontaneous, de-centralised and non-hierarchical, and is by its very nature disruptive.
  • Instead of relying on governing bodies or associations to take the lead, it urges each architect to take responsibility for action in their own lives and practices.
  • Through inverting the traditional method of advocacy and policy deployment, the movement fosters a bottom-up approach to community-led change-making.
  • This movement is a collaborative collective, and we value the input of our coordinators, advisors, advocates, ambassadors and signatories to make decisions that align with our vision. 


STRATEGIES (How will we achieve our vision?)

To achieve our vision, we will seek to:

  • Raise awareness of the climate and biodiversity emergencies and the urgent need for action amongst our clients and supply chains.
  • Advocate for faster change in our industry towards regenerative design practices and a higher Governmental funding priority to support this.
  • Establish climate and biodiversity mitigation principles as the key measure of our industry’s success: demonstrated through awards, prizes and listings.
  • Share knowledge and research to that end on an open source basis.
  • Evaluate all new projects against the aspiration to contribute positively to mitigating climate breakdown, and encourage our clients to adopt this approach.  (*NOTE criteria metrics need to be determined ie. Operational energy targets like RIBA2030.)
  • Upgrade existing buildings for extended use as a more carbon efficient alternative to demolition and new build whenever there is a viable choice.
  • Include life cycle costing, whole life carbon modelling and post occupancy evaluation as part of our basic scope of work, to reduce both embodied and operational resource use.
  • Adopt more regenerative design principles in our studios, with the aim of designing architecture and urbanism that goes beyond the standard of net zero carbon in use.
  • Collaborate with engineers, contractors and clients to further reduce construction waste.
  • Accelerate the shift to low embodied carbon materials in all our work.
  • Minimise wasteful use of resources in architecture and urban planning, both in quantum and in detail.

In Australia, we as architects are aware that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have long espoused the cultural, social, economic and environmental benefits embedded in the holistic relationship of Caring for Country.



  • We will be bold. We need to stir the pot. Participate to the fullest of your ability. The fundamental change we need depends upon the contribution of every individual.
  • We will practice joy, gratitude and compassion. The future we seek requires it.
  • We will practice listening. Everyone needs to be given a chance to speak and be heard.
  • We will critique ideas; support people. Do not be afraid to challenge one another by asking questions, but refrain from personal attacks.
  • We will be respectful. While wanting to change the world and the way we live in it, we will treat everyone we encounter with the respect we are all due.
  • We will speak from our own experience. Our truth is ours to share, while learning from others’ diverse experiences.
  • We will speak out. We will interrupt acts of discrimination and hate speech. Oppression and violence are antithetical to what we are aiming for. Be conscious of body language and nonverbal response; they can be as disrespectful as words. Everyone is responsible to maintaining a welcoming and democratic environment.
  • We will be transparent and open. We should subject ourselves and everyone we deal with, with the highest standards of openness, transparency and accountability
  • We will use proven data. We will ensure robust scientific assessment, the precautionary principle and the principle of intergenerational equity should guide decision-making.
  • We will be non-partisan and non-affiliated. We will not promote/endorse political parties, brands or companies.


GOALS AND OBJECTIVES (Where will we focus our energy?) 

  • Two distinct areas to focus our goals:

Political (activating change higher up the chain)

National and state/region-based advocacy/lobbying/forming alliances – run by each state-steering committee semi-autonomously. 

Personal & Professional (enabling transformation at grass-roots level)

National social media campaigns with clear actions for individuals/practices to take (see below) following the success of the carbon-neutral campaign

Sharing resources/information, education, collaboration


(Specific goals and campaigns to follow….watch this space!)



Prepared by Talina Edwards in collaboration with the Australian Architects Declare National Steering Committee Feb 2020