14 December 2023
Adaptation, Resilient Buildings Sector Highlighted During COP 28
Photo Credit: Chris Barbalis on Unsplash
story highlights

An event on the building sector illustrated how different organizations are accelerating decarbonization and resilience in the sector through education and upskilling programmes, establishing guidance and databases, and promoting relevant practices.

Outcomes and recommendations from the High-level Roundtable Dialogue: Headway for Adaptation in September 2023 and the Adaptation Futures 2023 conference in October fed into adaptation negotiations at COP 28.

Peatlands, which store in their soils twice as much carbon as the world’s forests’ biomass, contribute about 4% of total emissions when drained and degraded.

Increasing the resilience of the buildings sector and advancing negotiations on adaptation were the focus of side events covered by the Earth Negotiations Bulletin (ENB) on 8 December, during the UN Climate Change Conference (UNFCCC COP 28) in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE). Events on peatlands as a carbon sink and on technology and the need for international cooperation also received coverage.

Organized by DanChurchAid and Ouranos, a side event focused on messages from two events that took place prior to COP 28 in support of strong and ambitious results for climate adaptation – the High-level Roundtable Dialogue: Headway for Adaptation, co-hosted by Denmark and Bangladesh and held on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly (UNGA) in September 2023, and the Adaptation Futures 2023 conference that took place in October.

Saber Chowdhury, Special Envoy to Prime Minister of Bangladesh for Climate Change, lauded operationalization of the loss and damage fund on the first day of COP 28, but cautioned that this may result in a decrease in funds allocated to adaptation, urging that “there cannot be any trade offs” between mitigation, adaptation, and loss and damage.

One speaker said the Adaptation Futures Conference sought to, among others, learn from Indigenous and local knowledge systems and ensure their voices are heard in adaptation research, policies, and practices. Another emphasized that a perfect, generalizable indicator for adaptation “does not exist” and that different perspectives on what a well-adapted community is must be embraced.

A panel discussion on the implications of outcomes of and recommendations from the two events for negotiations at COP 28 underscored the need to support community-based perspectives. One panelist called for a greater reflection on the “historical and contemporary processes of colonization” that have hindered the capacity of countries in the global South and small island developing States (SIDS) to address climate impacts.

Given the growing visibility of net-zero buildings in urban environments, another side event emphasized the need to foster empowerment and resilience in the building sector. It pointed to the need to further raise awareness of the benefits of net-zero buildings for sustainable urban development. The event shared how different organizations are accelerating decarbonization and resilience in the building sector, which is responsible for 37% of global emissions, through education and upskilling programmes, establishing guidance and databases, and promoting relevant practices.

Delta Electronics Foundation (DEF), in partnership with the US Green Building Council (USGBC), Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi), the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), and the UN Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) organized the event.

Wim Chang, CEO, DEF, highlighted some of the over 30 DEF-supported, LEED-certified, and net-zero building projects, emphasizing DEF’s commitment to supporting the development of 100 buildings by 2030. He also discussed opportunities to rebuild climate-resilient structures, citing the use of salvaged downed timber from typhoons to reconstruct a public school devastated by a mudslide.

One speaker focused on harnessing the power of LEED certification – a green building rating system to drive sustainability at increasing scales. She described the evolution of the LEED V5 for Operations and Maintenance Framework and its holistic approach to sustainable building development that tackles not only carbon emissions but also water efficient landscaping, active occupant designs that enhance well-being, and waste management.

Also highlighted were: the Landmark Commonwealth Pact, which aims to support the development of resilient urban areas; and Buildings Sector Science-Based Target-Setting Guidance, developed to establish a common methodology for companies to align with the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5°C.

Another event focused on policies, private and public funding, and best practices for unleashing the climate and biodiversity benefits of peatlands, which store in their soils twice as much carbon as the world’s forests’ biomass, contributing about 4% of total emissions when drained and degraded.

Speakers at the event emphasized:

  • the expansion of the Global Peatlands Initiative since its launch in 2016 to 55 members;
  • the Global Peatlands Assessment, launched in 2022 at COP 27, which shows that the five million hectares of peatland store about 600 billion tons of carbon, but also that 12% of peatlands have been degraded; and
  • rewetting degraded wetlands, developing data systems, forming fair and transparent governance systems, and blending public and private financing to protect and restore global wetlands, among the Assessment’s recommendations. 

The event also focused on country initiatives to protect peatlands. For example, peatlands have been integrated into Uganda’s Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), while other efforts in the country include: engaging communities so that they appreciate the value of peatlands, which are not seen or felt in the same way as swamps and forests; and establishing value chains for paludiculture, which involves farming in areas with high water tables such as peatlands, so measures to preserve them bring financial rewards.

The event was organized by the Michael Succow Foundation, Greifswald Mire Centre, Deutsche Bundesstiftung Umwelt (DBU), and Wetlands International, with the support of the Global Peatlands Initiative, the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO).   

The need to strengthen international cooperation in technology development and transfer through the Technology Mechanism was the focus of an event, which highlighted the Mechanism’s Joint Work Programme (JWP). Inger Andersen, Executive Director, UN Environment Programme (UNEP), said technology must be part of the “solutions package” for mitigation and adaptation needs. Noting that UNEP hosts the Climate Technology Centre and Network (CTCN), she warned it is “woefully underfunded” and called for countries to “step in” and support it.

Speakers during the event highlighted:

The event was organized by the COP 28 Presidency and the UNFCCC Technology Mechanism.

related events

related posts