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​​We are Building for Everyone with #RoofOverOurHeads

By Cristina Gamboa, CEO, WorldGBC, as part of World Green Building Week 2022.

At a time when many of us are reflecting on how we can have a more positive influence on nature and within our communities, the challenges we face at an urban and built environment level remind us of what is possible if we have the will to come together to improve the state of the world.

Four billion people are vulnerable to the impacts of climate change

The World Meteorological Organisation reports we have a 50% chance of breaching 1.5°C of warming over the next five years.

According to the World Health Organization, air pollution kills over seven million people a year.

And the energy and cost of living crisis is already disproportionately affecting our societies’ most vulnerable people.

The built environment is part of the challenge and part of the solution

The global built environment is responsible for almost 40% of global energy-related carbon emissions and 50% of extracted materials. By 2050, 1.6 billion urban dwellers will be regularly exposed to extreme high temperatures, which causes droughts and wildfires, and over 800 million people living in more than 570 cities will be vulnerable to sea level rise and coastal flooding.

These statistics are nerve-wracking to say the least, and we’ve heard them many times before.

But as a firm optimist, I believe we must reject this “it’s too late” mentality.

This World Green Building Week, we’re #BuildingForEveryone

It’s really overdue that we put people back at the heart of the built environment.

And that’s why our global network of over 70 Green Building Councils and their +36,000 members are leading the World Green Building Week 2022 campaign — #BuildingForEveryone.

This World Green Building Week, we’re showing how our network’s holistic approach to #BuildingForEveryone can accelerate the Sustainable Development Goals and sustainable built environments for everyone, everywhere.

It’s time to put a #RoofOverOurHeads

As part of #BuildingForEveryone, WorldGBC is supporting the Roof Over Our Heads (ROOH) campaign.

ROOH is a nascent bottom up campaign created by women leaders of informal settlements, associated and affiliated with Slum Dwellers International (SDI), and supported by the UN High Level Climate Champions and the UN’s #RaceToResilience and #RaceToZero campaigns.

As a Latin American, I have witnessed first-hand the challenges posed by informal settlements that are very common in hundreds of thousands of cities across the world. I have seen residents facing security issues due to not owning the land their homes are built on, the poor structural quality of informal homes leading to health issues, and the lack of access to basic services all humans are entitled to.

One billion people live in informal settlements around cities, which are typically home to up to 50% of the urban residents in developing countries.

This number is projected to double by 2050, with 90% of this increase projected in Asian and African towns and cities.

This means that approximately two billion urban dwellers will require housing and basic services that are resilient to climate-change impacts.

Many of these people today continue to live in poor quality habitats.

They are not only vulnerable to the effects of climate change, but face evictions and lack secure tenure and access to safe drinking water and sanitation systems with proper waste disposal.

Which is why WorldGBC fully supports ROOH’s aims to help deliver systemic changes in four areas simultaneously:

  1. Finance: Mobilise public and private finance at scale and get this finance to people that need it so that houses are built and existing homes retrofitted.
  2. Design: Catalyse innovation and work with people who will live in them to come up with better designed houses that are decent, resilient, and “low carbon” to build and live in.
  3. Construction: Working with industry and suppliers to meet the needs of people living in informal settlements so their homes are resilient.
  4. Governance: Address the challenges of planning, administration, and policy implementation and empower people living in informal settlements to be heard and be part of the solution.

ROOH’s focus is on people living in developing countries in the global south. However, the campaign recognises that everyone, everywhere needs a good roof over their head, and includes people living in developed countries in low quality housing.

ROOH will be implemented under an “unusual” coalition of partners. From slum dwellers to financiers, designers, architects, suppliers, cement and concrete industries, paint manufacturers, city mayors, and others who want to make a difference to the lives of those living in poor quality housing.

Take action, today

The single and biggest act of bravery anyone can do is the act of change.

It’s time we stand side by side with those communities in need and take action, now.

At WorldGBC, we’re in an important stage of developing this collaborative project and we need your help:

1) Watch this video to find out more

2) Follow #RoofOverOurHeads on social media

3) Contact to find out how you can get involved