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RTPI past President Janet Askew helps launch global alliance for Baukultur in Davos

The second Conference of European Ministers of Culture, which was held at the invitation of the President of the Swiss Confederation Alain Berset from 14 to 16 January 2023, saw the launch of the Davos Baukultur Alliance. The Alliance will be chaired for five years by Switzerland, with its secretariat operating within the World Economic Forum.

Janet Askew, President of the European Council of Spatial Planners and past President of the Royal Town Planning Institute, came together with ministers of culture from 31 European countries along with civil society organisations and major companies from the building and real estate industry to launch the Davos Baukultur Alliance, a network for dialogue among all parties at the international level.

“Our goal is to promote the important role of planners in approaches to development," said Askew. "I will be calling upon the public and private sectors and civil society to work together to adapt to the needs of all people to create an inclusive society in which everyone can expect a decent way of life in high quality built and natural environments.”

The Alliance proposes to meet the global challenges of planning and construction through high-quality Baukultur. Its aim is the sustainable, quality-oriented management of buildings, infrastructure, public spaces and landscapes for the benefit of all. The Alliance pursues the goals set out in the Davos Declaration “Towards a high-quality Baukultur for Europe”, which was adopted in 2018, and is based on the criteria laid down in the Davos Baukultur Quality System. Many countries, as well as the European Commission, have incorporated the goals into their Baukultur policy, architectural strategies and urban agendas.

“Good Baukultur has never been as important as it is today. There can be no sustainable development without it”, said Alain Berset, President of the Swiss Confederation, in his opening speech. The promotion of high-quality Baukultur, he went on, is an indispensable part of achieving a swift energy transition; but it also helps to combat increasing overdevelopment and enables cities and villages to evolve to meet the needs of an inclusive and diverse society.

Working groups within the Alliance will discuss issues such as the circular economy, energy efficient renovations and a certification system, and jointly develop proposals for how to proceed. Switzerland will chair the new Davos Baukultur Alliance for the first five years. Its 2/2 secretariat is based within the World Economic Forum and will act as an interface to the private sector.

In launching the Davos Baukultur Alliance, Switzerland is further advancing its commitment to Baukultur. The involvement of the building and real estate sector and the partnership with the WEF will secure broad recognition of the objective of high-quality Baukultur among all participants. An initial event is planned during the opening of the Venice Biennale of Architecture, which takes place from 20 May to 26 November 2023 under the title “The Laboratory of the Future”.

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