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Testimony
Publishing date: 11/10/2016

Supporting climate mitigation action in the buildings and construction sector

Showcasing the Global Alliance for Buildings and Construction
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We are at a turning point in terms of energy transition and low carbon.

And if we are here today, it is thanks to the commitment of countries, communities, associations and entrepreneurs who, before the others:

Have addressed the crucial issues of energy mix, climate change, greenhouse gas reduction, and investment in renewable energies.

Have turned them into major issues of our public policies.

Have set an example by concrete achievements.

And it is through this dynamic that the ratification of the Paris Agreement takes on its full meaning.

1. An Alliance that meets the challenges we face.
The construction sector accounts for one-third of GHG emissions. If the existing buildings fleet is a major issue, to meet the immense needs of the population on a global scale, it is necessary to double the building stock by 2050! We need to:

Ensure better energy efficiency of existing and to-be-constructed buildings;

Supply buildings with renewable and decarbonized energy and with better materials, systems and equipment for comfort, including heating, cooling and ventilation;

Change our habits and customs.

The Global Alliance for Buildings and Constructions is making steady progress in this direction.

2. A particularly rich balance sheet of 2016.
The ambition of its first year of existence was to:

Solidify and expand the partnership, permanently placing it in the international landscape.

Accelerate worldwide awareness on the importance of taking action and to mobilize the real estate, buildings and construction sector.

Put in place ways of working among its many partners.

And to implement first concrete actions.

This year has been particularly rich and active.
And the involvement of a large number of countries has made it possible, I believe, to place this young initiative in a perennial and sustainable perspective at the international level.

I was Head of Delegation at the UN Habitat 3 Conference in Quito. And I could see the extent of the Alliance's expectations in terms of sustainable development and construction. Under the Alliances’ leadership, the final declaration of the Habitat III conference largely takes into account the importance of sustainable buildings.
As a follow-up to the Paris agreement, this is a major and decisive step forward for the climate and for global solidarity.

The year 2016 made it possible to extend the scope of the network by integrating new partners: Argentina, the Russian Federation and Mongolia.
And others have shown a keen interest in joining us: Iran, India, Indonesia, Maldives and Cambodia, but also many major players, including financiers, such as the International Finance Corporation (IFC).
Regional dialogues were held for Asia (in Singapore) and Latin America (Lima) and led to the launch of joint initiatives, particularly between countries requesting technical assistance and organizations able to respond to the needs expressed.
Finally, since 1 September 2016 the permanent Secretariat of the Alliance is based at UN Environment.

We are ready, now is the moment of action. That is why 2017 is so important to me. We must move forward together to make it fully effective.

States have committed themselves at COP21 and will have to take into account emissions from the building sector. Not all have done this and not all have the technical or financial capacity to do so. It is our common responsibility to help them. For France, aid to Francophone countries is a priority.

Many local and regional authorities have committed themselves to COP21.

Companies and designers are now engaged in these new, more qualitative markets. They have a strong potential for innovation and are essential partners, whatever their scale, as suppliers, builders or prescribers.

Financial institutions are ready to act, and they must be allowed to finance more good projects.

It is necessary to take advantage of this positive dynamic to emerge from experimenting and move quickly to a dynamic of mainstreaming and mass take-on; to come together to mobilize relevant resources (including financial resources) and set in motion an irreversible movement to mobilize the enormous potential of the construction sector.
Because we are in a hurry: the climatic emergency is proven!

3. Alliance Priorities for 2017
The Alliance must therefore take on new priorities.

Everywhere and immediately more efficient buildings are needed. The massive and demanding renovation of existing buildings and new zero-energy buildings must become the general rule at the global level. I am not unaware, of course, of each country’s particular situation. This challenge is technical, economic, social and environmental. We need to address it as soon as possible, because we know that the buildings built today are the energy constraints of tomorrow. The quicker the necessary investments are made, the more profitable they will be.

For all this, we must unite our necessary means for action. France, President of the COP21, has invested heavily in the creation of this tool for the benefit of all. We did it because it was absolutely necessary for buildings to finally take their place in the fight against climate change.

Many actions are possible and it is up to us and you together to determine priorities based on your knowledge and expertise of global realities.

We will continue to support this momentum, which will gain the power that can only be claimed with the help of all. We collectively have no choice but to succeed.

I wish the Alliance many new partners!

Ms Emmanuelle Cosse, former Minister of Housing and Territorial Equality, French Republic

Former Minister Emmanuelle Cosse, French Republic

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