The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warned us in the fall of 2018 that to avoid catastrophe, human societies have 12 years to completely transform the way we use energy and land.
Change is urgently needed and on a scale for which ‘there is no documented historical precedent’. That is why we start from the premise that we are facing the deepest crisis in human memory. And that we have no time to waste. Can we transform our urban landscapes and living environments, comprehensively and democratically, with time for serious reflection on how we do it and for whom we do it – while we're doing it?

From Missing Link to Down to Earth
IABR–2020–DOWN TO EARTH is the sequel to IABR–2018–THE MISSING LINK, with which it forms a diptych. DOWN TO EARTH explores whether we can address the missing link which we identified and investigated in 2018, and do so very concretely, by employing recognizable urgent challenges with which we can identify, as a lever both for the comprehensive transformation of our urban landscapes and societies as well as for the democratic discourse we need to have about the nature, quality and ownership of this transformation.

Water and Energy Transition
The two that we have chosen are water and energy transition-related challenges. How can designers tackle water issues - too much, too little, too polluted - in such a way that they become also the starting point for working on resilient cities? (How) can designers help realize the energy transition so that we can simultaneously use it as a lever for socially inclusive urban planning? How can design driven responses to water and energy transition-related challenges help us to develop new approaches to inhabit the earth, in a much more balanced way, one that helps us realize the Sustainable Developments Goals?

Curator Team + Designers
To address this issue, how to take action now, from the global level to that of the urban district, a new Curator Team has been appointed.
George Brugmans, Rianne Makkink and Jurgen Bey are the curators for Water as Leverage, and Thijs van Spaandonk and Robbert de Vrieze for Energy Transition as Leverage.
Studio Makkink & Bey will design the exhibition, Roosje Klap (ARK) is responsible for all graphic design.

M4H + BoTu
The locations of IABR–2020 are the Merwe-Vierhavens area (M4H), a city harbor that is a breeding ground for the new circular economy, and Bospolder-Tussendijken (BoTu), a self-reliant and culturally very diverse but socioeconomically vulnerable Rotterdam district.
M4H + BoTu: two adjacent areas we jointly named Test Site M4H+ during the previous biennale. Together, they are representative of the many challenges facing not only the city of Rotterdam but also many other cities. The water challenge and energy transition play a part here, but here we can also explore the new circular economy, the housing challenge, accessibility, and social inequality. Here, the poor and unemployed live alongside start-ups and enterprising artists. Old and new meet, city and port, rich and poor, local and global.
M4H+BoTu is an exemplary Test Site for the transition: challenges and approaches come together in the now and how, and in a very provoking manner as well. It is an ideal location for the IABR, in and also after 2020.

The IABR has fully committed itself to contribute to the realization of the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations and of the objectives stated in the Paris Climate Agreement.
The IABR is a research and development institute as well as an international cultural platform. Therefore, contribute we can with the tools that we have: research by design, the power of the imagination and the potency of design.