The impact of the building sector on climate change, sustainable construction and green buildings will have to be on the top of the agenda of the Rio+20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, according to Mr Arab Hoballah, Chief, Sustainable Consumption and Production Branch, United Nations Environment Programme.

The world cannot afford to miss this opportunity as the built-up space accounts for one-third of the Green House Gas emissions globally, and consumes nearly half the world's energy and resources.

At the Rio +20 UN conference to secure renewed political commitment for sustainable development, the challenge of creating a sustainable building sector will have to be brought to the fore. The opportunity was missed out earlier and does not figure in the Kyoto Protocol because of the lack of awareness two decades back on this issue.

Addressing the International Green Building Conference 2011 organised by the Building and Construction Authority, a Singapore Government body that regulates real estate development, he said, a multipronged approach is needed in the form of multilateral agreements, economic and fiscal incentives and regulatory regimes.

Population growth and economic development are driving the demand for buildings with the major growth regions being China, Asia, Latin America and Africa. By 2030 more than 80 per cent of the population will be living in cities where housing will be needed for three billion people.

The UNEP green economic report released in February looks at the investments needed to make the process of development sustainable. Two of the 11 chapters deal with buildings and cities. These two also have a direct impact on most of the other sectors the report deals with – agriculture, forest, manufacturing, tourism, transport, water and energy.

Addressing the challenges in the building sector will have a positive impact that will cut across sectors, he said.

(This article was published on September 14, 2011)
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