In One Word: Inspiring
In February, GlobalABC members came together to connect and share expertise to determine the strategic vision, monitor progress and set the work plan for the GlobalABC on its mission towards a zero-emission, efficient, and resilient buildings and construction sector. The 2019 GlobalABC Assembly gathered members from 20 countries who discussed with engagement and commitment GlobalABC vision and key activities.
Generously hosted by Natural Resources Canada in Ottawa and happening during Canada Climate Week, this year’s meeting was particularly active, engaged and international. This diversity was reflected in the many discussions defining a vision for a future-proof buildings and construction sector and shaping how the GlobalABC can best encourage accelerating global efforts.
Menti, a collaboration software, was used successfully throughout the meeting to connect members and gather authentic inputs. When asked to describe the outcomes of the discourse, members overwhelmingly responded with one word that made us all proud: inspiring.
A Strong Start
The meeting opened with a clear call to action: humanity is facing no bigger existential threat than climate change. The Honourable Amarjeet Sohi, Minister of Natural Resources, Canada emphasized that one of the most effective ways to mitigate emissions and build resilience in our societies is through advancing actions in the buildings and construction sector, and gave examples where Canada is investing in communities to transition the buildings stock through retrofits and strengthening building codes.
Buildings and Construction in the Americas
As the conference was hosted in North America, the first panel took a holistic view of progress in the sector in the Americas. Recognizing the urgency to act, discussants proposed different measures for overcoming barriers to action. Key recommendations to accelerate the transition included:
Change the language to more closely connect our buildings with people, e.g. through emphasizing health, lifestyles, and resilience in the face of climate impacts.
Regulatory and business approaches need to be combined. Building codes to do not move fast enough. Private sector and the investors need to be on board. For this to occur, return on investment is critical.
New buildings add to carbon balance, no matter how efficient. However, if we retrofit 20% of the highest emitting buildings in the 12-15 next years, we get to the 30% reduction we need to see.
The need to strengthen the capacity of local governments to enforce building codes, collect data, and integrate buildings into a holistic urban system.
A Year in Review: GlobalABC in 2018
2018 was a year of transition and growth for the GlobalABC. Rapidly growing cities and global weather mean transforming buildings and construction to become energy-efficient and resilient is becoming ever more urgent . Dubai’s Land Department Minister noted the sharp rise in cooling demand and therefore the need for our buildings to support sustainable cooling approaches.
The GlobalABC was successful in conveying the key message on urgency of climate action in buildings and construction sector received international attention, through: the 2018 Global Status Report (GSR) Launch at COP24; Participation in the G20 Resource Efficiency Dialogue; Shaping the Ministerial declaration of XXI Forum for Environment Ministers in Latin America; and Holding Building Codes Day as part of the Global Climate Action Summit.
In addition, GlobalABC has laid the foundational work for 2020 in catalyzing action through the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) Guidance document, Sparking the Global Call for Low-Carbon, Energy Efficient and Resilient Buildings – signed by 6 countries (Argentina, France, Germany, Mexico, Morocco, Switzerland), supporting World Green Building Council Zero Carbon Commitment, launched at Global Climate Action Summit in San Francisco, and having work under work areas is picking up. Flagship products and technical reports include the Global Status Report 2018, Developing methodology for updating/regionalizing the Global Roadmap, the NDC guidance tool and the draft of the cost/impact study.
Defining a Vision and Setting the Course
GlobalABC counts as its members buildings and construction experts from across the globe. Harnessing their expertise through an interactive visioning process, they identified climate change, resource depletion and health as the top three trends particularly relevant for the GlobalABC.
How can the GlobalABC influence the sector’s transformation to address these priorities? Members emphasised the GlobalABC’s critical role in forging and increasing the political will of countries to address the buildings sector – it could use its political weight more e.g. through Ministerial Roundtables. Outputs ‘ask us to be better’ and these outputs could be used to raise ambition. Members are keen on match-making activities, collaboration opportunities, and sharing of success stories, e.g. through allocating more time for this during GlobalABC meetings plus webinars.
A collaborative exercise brought together the Work Areas to have multi-faceted dialogues to advance their respective work areas and provide a forum to receive candid, diverse feedback on progress.
Transforming the global buildings and construction sector, which accounts for nearly 40% of energy-related emissions, is a monumental objective achievable only through partnerships and investable actions supported by data. The GlobalABC came from this meeting with a refreshed perspective on its role in the transformation and a call to advance action and communications through various channels and facilitate interaction and collaboration among members.
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