Report on the Design Declaration Summit

DEFSA was invited to send an observer to the The Design Declaration Pre-Summit in Saint-Etienne, in preparation for next Design Declaration Summits scheduled for 2020/21 and 2023/24.

The two days were dedicated to three key projects proposed in the Montréal Design Declaration:

  1. Establishing metrics and collecting data and case studies to communicate the value of design more effectively.
  2. Fostering development, recognition, support and funding for design education and research, including the development of new formats for design education curricula.
  3. Supporting the development of national and regional design policies.

A full version of the Montréal Design Declaration is available in ADDENDUM A of this report. The meeting was formatted as a workshop with presentations from experts in the fields of the three key projects mentioned above; these ‘agitation’ presentations were debated in round table discussions by all attendees.

Recommendations for DEFSA on the way forward:

  • That DEFSA considers joining this global forum and disseminating the Design Declaration through our networks.
  • That DEFSA considers developing an African representation on this platform that can be truly representative of the African voice.
  • That DEFSA considers how we can become involved in the three key projects mentioned.

What is the Design Declaration Summit?

The first international convening of the design community, as represented by 22 international organisations representing professional urban planners, architects, landscape architects and designers from over 90 countries occurred on 23–24 October 2017 in Montréal (Canada). These organisations gathered to affirm the fundamental role of design in creating and shaping the world now and in the future. The two-day Design Declaration Summit (DDS) concluded with the ratification of the first Design Declaration, the Montréal Design Declaration, in the presence of international organisations representing public, private and civil sectors of society concerned with design or impacted by design. The Declaration recognises the need for strategic leadership on design matters at local, regional, national and international levels and the need for governance models, political agendas and policy to take design into account. It acknowledges the fundamental and critical role of design to create a world that is environmentally sustainable, economically viable, socially equitable, and culturally diverse. 

The Design Declaration Summit process is being conducted by representatives of the international design community and representatives of international agencies seeking to better utilise the potential of design. The first international Design Declaration describes the value and potential impact of design to address social, cultural, environmental and economic challenges. The Declaration includes a “Call to Action” and fifteen proposed projects. The Declaration is supported by the over 700 supporting member entities of the 22 signatories from over 90 countries. As mandated by the Montréal Design Declaration signatories, the Design Declaration Summit Steering Committee (DDSSC)—made up of representatives of six international organisations—is responsible for the ongoing process, including the initiation of Projects and organisation of future Design Declaration Summits. The Design Declaration Summit process will continue in 2019, with a Pre-Summit Meeting in Saint-Étienne (France) on 3–5 April 2019 and a full-scale Design Declaration Summit to follow in 2020, at which a second Design Declaration will be ratified.

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