Cristina Gamboa, CEO, WorldGBC
September is a fervent and critical month for climate action as I write in the midst of Africa Climate Week, the Delhi G20 Summit, and less than one week away from World Green Building Week 2023 and the first #BuildingToCOP28 Forum. And so our global network has its work cut out to put the pressure on, and accelerate a sustainable transition for the building and construction sector.
Get ready for World Green Building Week 2023
Next week marks World Green Building Council’s (WorldGBC) 15th annual World Green Building Week (WGBW, 11–15 September).
Against the backdrop of the world’s first Global Stocktake, this year’s theme is all about #BuildingTheTransition and you can take action by getting involved here.
We are living in a moment where global attention is shifting to the solutions that must be scaled in order to tackle the tipping point in not only climate change, but also humanitarian and economic challenges.
During #WGBW23 our network will be calling on the global building and construction sector to accelerate the transition to an energy efficient, regenerative and just future for all.
This year’s campaign has also been planned to lead into the UN’s 2023 SDG Summit (18–19 September), and therefore pinpoints 11 of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals that are essential to catalyse a sustainable built environment.
Why is now the time for #BuildingTheTransition?
As I mentioned, 2023 is the year in which the world is going through its first Global Stocktake.
The process offers the global community a chance to reflect on collective goals agreed upon under the Paris Agreement, highlighting areas of progress and identifying key gaps before countries submit updated Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) in 2025.
Very soon the UNFCCC will publish a ‘technical paper’ on their website demonstrating a comprehensive assessment of global action on climate change to date. The Global Stocktake is the result of two years of consultations and inputs from governments, businesses and NGOs.
I am anticipating that this paper will be bleak and foreboding in its findings – which is why we must ensure that momentum for built environment action snowballs ahead of COP28, in Dubai, UAE.
So with this context, we know we are at a pinnacle point where the world must undergo a transition ultimately to ensure our survival on this planet. The transition required to regenerate and repair our planet will see systemic transformation across all sectors – and the built environment is integral in this eleventh hour for climate action.
Built environments are integral to our daily lives. They are where we live, work, learn, play and worship.
But built environments are also integral in the fight for our lives – with buildings and construction collectively responsible for almost 40% of global carbon emissions.
Right now our sector has an opportunity to close the gap to 1.5°C.
And through #BuildingTheTransition this World Green Building Week, our network is here to show the world what is possible to secure an energy efficient, regenerative and just transition.
This year’s campaign will elevate three transitions that are essential for a sustainable built environment: the energy, regenerative and just transitions.
Africa Climate Week
WorldGBC is also involved in Africa Climate Week (3–8 September) alongside our Africa Green Building Councils, which is running in parallel with the African Climate Summit.
The events held at Africa Climate Week provide invaluable opportunities to share climate experiences and engage in dialogues on the challenges and opportunities of climate change in the regions.
Looking ahead to COP28
I am proud that our past influence at UN Climate Summits of COP26 and COP27 has influenced another Built Environment Day at COP28 in Dubai.
Buildings will again be at the forefront of the climate agenda through the ‘Multilevel Action, Urbanization and Built Environment/Transport’ Day’ on 6 December 2023.
At WorldGBC, we are preparing to launch the first #BuildingToCOP28 Forum as part of World Green Building Week.
The Building To COP Forums return just in time to share the latest industry intelligence and showcase built environment leaders acting to scale economic, social, and climate resilience.We believe that as the UNFCCC works to bring transitions forward on the climate agenda at COP28, the green building network has an opportunity to spotlight how built environments are a key part of the transition to a sustainable future.
These monthly Forums will convene a powerful coalition of stakeholders, highlighting how the #BuildingToCOP Coalition is elevating the built environment as a critical climate solution ahead of COP28.
We must leverage the collective will and industry solutions we saw at COP27 to ensure 2023 is the transformative year for our sector in delivering the change needed. As a community of building and construction stakeholders, we are uniquely positioned to ensure that pledges, commitments and promises are turned into action.
Calls to action
In the run up to the UN Climate Summit COP28, and in the world’s first Global Stocktake year, we must remember that 1.5ºC is a limit, not a target.
We must ensure that 2023 is the year we get the Global Stocktake on emissions right, increase ambition of NDCs and start #BuildingTheTransition.
Our aim cannot be to only avoid the worst-case scenario when we are capable of so much more. Through working in collaboration with Green Building Councils, the building and construction sector can mobilise and scale available solutions now to deliver a future that is energy efficient, regenerative and just.
Scaling these solutions requires political will and industry ambition. As the largest contributing sector to carbon emissions, the built environment is at a historical juncture to deliver on the required transitions in a decisive decade.
Take part in World Green Building Week 2023, #BuildingTheTransition, 11–15 September
Join the next #BuildingToCOP28 Forum, 14 September, 4pm BST
Read our Global Policy Principle for a Sustainable Built Environment
Contact your local Green Building Council who are working with local and national governments to realign their policies to facilitate the transition to sustainable built environments.