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WorldGBC launches post-disaster toolkit for building back better through a sustainable built environment

Together with the European Bank for Reconstruction & Development (EBRD), UN Habitat, and Green Building Councils in Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon and Palestine, the World Green Building Council (WorldGBC) launches the Sustainable Reconstruction & Recovery Framework — a “post-disaster toolkit” to help communities build back better across the Southern and Eastern Mediterranean and beyond.

Bringing together local and international expertise, the Sustainable Reconstruction & Recovery Framework advances a holistic, inclusive and resilient approach to reconstruction in these regions experiencing natural disasters and conflict.

The Framework is structured around six themes which emphasise that disaster risk reduction, and the sustainable urban reconstruction of the physical environment, can restore the wellbeing of communities, revitalise livelihoods, and support social and cultural life. This resource does not propose a one-size-fits-all solution, but highlights key issues and methods to create bespoke solutions for individual and community-wide sustainable reconstruction projects.

This solutions toolkit  builds on the body of existing WorldGBC frameworks for Health and Wellbeing and Whole Life Carbon, as well as EBRD’s Environmental and Social Policies and corresponding Performance Requirements.

Read the Executive Summary of the Framework.

Cristina Gamboa, CEO, WorldGBC:

“As we build momentum to the UN Climate Conference COP27, the priority must be on facilitating knowledge for an equitable transition to sustainable, low-carbon infrastructure solutions that bolster resilience for all communities and economies. The Sustainable Reconstruction and Recovery Framework is a toolkit for disaster-hit areas that does just that for all the countries located in the Southern and Eastern Mediterranean.

Working across six principles, the Framework acknowledges the challenges and delivers pathways of actions to take advantage of the opportunities for sustainable reconstruction. We look forward to working with our partners and Green Building Councils to accelerate the Framework’s contribution to unlocking the restoration of ecosystems, communities and economies in the region and beyond.”

Why a Sustainable Reconstruction Framework?

The Middle East and North Africa region, including the Southern and Eastern Mediterranean (SEMED), is the most water-stressed region in the world, and is heating at twice the rate of the global average. From extreme heat waves, extensive drought periods, flash floods, coastal erosion, and cyclones, the last half-century has seen the area experience an increase in extreme weather events. Along with climate change, communities are experiencing rapid urbanisation and an increase in civil unrest, conflicts, and infrastructure degradation.

Estimates suggest that over US$ 560 billion will be needed across the region just to rebuild in countries like Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Libya and Gaza. In Lebanon, losses from the 2020 port explosion are estimated between US $4-5 billion and the reconstruction costs are estimated around US $10 billion. In Jordan, there are 660,000 UNHCR-registered refugees — one of the fastest population increases in history — requiring an urgent need for infrastructure expansion and service provisions in a sustainable and equitable manner.

Adonai Herrera-Martinez, Director Environment and Sustainability, EBRD Environment and Sustainability Department:

“Centred on a set of detailed technical guidelines, this work reflects international best practice on sustainable urban infrastructure reconstruction and development. Recommendations are applicable to other neighbouring regions such as MENA and Sub-Saharan Africa. The Framework incorporates the EBRD Environmental and Social Policy and its Performance Requirements, and will leverage the broad WorldGBC network for outreach and capacity building.”

Six opportunities to build back better

This Framework covers six guiding principles to sustainable reconstruction:

1. Efficient resource utilisation

A physical environment that ensures the proper utilisation of resources, continued growth and environmental resilience.

2. Environmental and climate resilience

Promote long-term integrative planning to decrease the communities’ vulnerability and increase its adaptability to the harmful effects of climate change.

3. Sustainable mobility

Ensure freedom of access to all members of society in an environmentally sensitive and healthy manner.

4. Integrative social and economic resilience

Ensure social networks are given equal importance to physical networks, and are rebuilt and supported in the physical environment in ways that facilitate opportunities for economic growth and community resilience.

5. Health and wellbeing

Address both the objective and subjective aspects of community wellbeing, especially post crisis.

6. Heritage 

Maintain a strong link to the heritage of an area, representing the historic and cultural richness of the region, which is crucial in ensuring belonging and in turn, wellbeing.
Erfan Ali, UN-Habitat Regional Representative for Arab States:

“The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development calls for climate action at the city level, while the New Urban Agenda has stressed on the significance of efficient urban mitigation and adaptation measures including clear commitments to strengthen urban resilience to reduce the risks and impacts of disasters and establish partnerships with diverse stakeholders to find sustainable solutions to urban challenges.

We, at UN-Habitat, strongly believe in the opportunity that recovery and reconstruction offer to build back better and greener, and we value the work we were able to accomplish with the World Green Building Council to develop the Sustainable Reconstruction and Recovery Framework for the Southern and Eastern Mediterranean region, and we hope it will help stimulate further debate and action on mainstreaming climate considerations in the different stages of recovery.”

From Framework to implementation 

The launch of the Sustainable Reconstruction and Recovery Framework lays the groundwork for partnerships on local reconstruction projects in the Middle East and North Africa. The Framework has been created as a living tool, meaning it will be updated when reconstruction projects are implemented and further insights come to light, giving this toolkit the flexibility to constantly evolve with the latest guidance.

If you are interested in working with WorldGBC and its partners across the Middle East and North Africa on utilising the framework on local reconstruction projects, please get in touch with Amira Ayoub, MENA Programmes Head




The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) is one of the Multinational Development Banks. Established in 1991 to help build a new, post-Cold War era in Central and Eastern Europe, it has expanded its mission to Southern and Eastern Mediterranean and Central Asia. The Bank has played a historic role and gained unique expertise in fostering change in the region – and beyond – investing almost €150 billion in a total of more than 6,000 projects. The EBRD is committed to furthering progress towards ‘market-oriented economies and the promotion of private and entrepreneurial initiative’. This has been its guiding principle since its creation and continues to be its mission in years to come.

The EBRD is driven by strong Environmental and Social Policies and ambitious climate and sustainability commitments. Bank’s  Green Economy Transition (GET) 2021-25 is the new approach for helping economies where the EBRD works build green, low carbon and resilient economies. Through the new GET approach, the EBRD will increase green financing to more than 50 per cent of its annual business volume by 2025. It also aims to reach net annual GHG emissions reductions of at least 25 million tonnes over the five-year period.

UN Habitat

The United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat) is the United Nations programme working towards a better urban future. UN-Habitat’s mission is to promote socially and environmentally sustainable human settlements development and the achievement of adequate shelter for all. We work with partners to build inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable cities and communities and promote urbanization as a positive transformative force for people and communities, reducing inequality, discrimination, and poverty. UN-Habitat leads the monitoring of Sustainable Development Goal 11 (SDG11) on sustainable cities and communities as well as the New Urban Agenda.

World Green Building Council (WorldGBC)

WorldGBC catalyses the uptake of sustainable buildings for everyone, everywhere.

Transforming the building and construction sector across three strategic areas — climate action, health & wellbeing, and resources & circularity — we are a global action network of over 70 Green Building Councils around the world.

As members of the UN Global Compact, we work with businesses, organisations and governments to drive the ambitions of the Paris Agreement and UN Global Goals for Sustainable Development. Through a systems change approach, our network is leading the industry towards a net zero carbon, healthy, equitable and resilient built environment.
Harvey Jones, Director of Strategic Communications and Marketing

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