The 27th UN Climate Change Conference (COP27) unfolded throughout November in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, uniting state delegates, climate activists and organizations like Build Change to drive advocacy and implementation action around tangible climate solutions.
At Build Change, we attended COP with a number of goals, the primary of which was to advocate that housing not only should be on the climate agenda but also that all housing can and should be made climate resilient, aligning with the conference’s central theme, “Together for Implementation.” This central focus on implementation guided Build Change’s engagement throughout the session, and shaped our greatest takeaways from the conference.
The historic announcement at the end of COP27 of a loss and damage fund, aimed to help the Global South cope with the extreme weather events caused by climate change has the potential to be transformational in housing resilience, supporting countries to channel funding to their citizens to rebuild better, stronger, and more resilient. Countries most vulnerable to climate change experience enormous losses to their GDP, which are disproportionately felt in the housing sector – Hurricane Maria cost the Caribbean nation of Dominica 225% of its GDP, and caused damages in 90% of the housing stock.
However, the commitments made at COPs historically have fallen short, with climate finance failing to reach the commitment levels agreed upon, and often struggling to identify new funding sources. For loss and damage funding to be effective, countries must follow through on these commitments with new funding. In addition to this, risk mitigation and disaster prevention must continue to be a focus in the climate community, specifically investing in a resilient built environment that is able to not only withstand disasters, but thrive in spite of them. Within the housing sector, spending on structural repairs is six times higher after a disaster than before, and has the potential to save countless lives.
Learn more about Dominica and investing in resilience in our COP27 session, “Building for a Billion: The Resilient Housing Implementation Lab.”
Learn more about assessing risk and resilience in infrastructure in our session, “Tackling Cascading Risks, Losses, & Damages in Heavily Interconnected Systems.”
Hear from Dr. Elizabeth Hausler in “Women Leading Decarbonization of the Built Environment,” hosted by Holcim and featuring Build Change, Google, WorldGBC, Global Cement & Concrete Association, and UNIDO.
At the outset of the conference, the COP27 Presidency launched the Sharm-El-Sheikh Adaptation Agenda, which outlines 30 adaptation outcomes to enhance resilience for 4 billion people living in the most climate-vulnerable communities by 2030. These outcomes represent the first comprehensive global plan to engage both state and non-state actors behind a shared set of adaptation actions that are required by the end of this decade across five impact systems: food and agriculture, water and nature, coastal and oceans, human settlements, and infrastructure, and including enabling solutions for planning and finance.
Among the outcomes, a key housing goal was launched – that 1 billion people have better design, construction and access to finance to live in decent, safe homes. Build Change has been named as a key partner on this plan and is actively leading engagement within the Race to Resilience to ensure climate resilient housing for all. The Agenda calls for $140-300 billion to be invested from public and private finance blends to drive resilience – and in the housing sector, this will only be possible through collaborations between implementers, governments, insurance sector, building materials suppliers, and more.
During COP27, the conference presidency convened the first-ever Ministerial Meeting on Urbanization and Climate Change. Representatives from countries such as Uganda and Papua New Guinea as well as cities such as Chefchaouen, Morocco and Utrecht, Netherlands, and organizations like UN-Habitat all made reference in their comments to creating sustainable urban landscapes.
This was a milestone achievement in housing on the climate change agenda, and affirmed that all levels of government must cooperate to address the global climate crisis. While cities emit nearly 80% of world emissions, a fraction of that funding is reaching the local level, signaling that there needs to be a fundamental reshaping of the climate finance space.
“Going Retro for Net Zero: How Housing Retrofits Save Embodied Carbon,” hosted by Build Change and featuring Autodesk LatAm, Goody Clancy, and WorldGBC.
“Climate Resilience in the Built Environment: Adapting to a Changing Climate,” hosted by WorldGBC and featuring Build Change, the city of Quelimane, Mozambique, and the Egypt Green Building Council.