February 22, 2024
Real Estate Sustainability

COP28: UNEP and 27 nations launch global Buildings Breakthrough initiative

Global effort targets near-zero emissions and resilient buildings by 2030

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), together with France and Morocco, has launched the Buildings Breakthrough at COP28 to accelerate the transformation of the building sector – which accounts for 21% of global greenhouse gas emissions – to make near-zero emissions and climate-resilient buildings the new normal by 2030.

The new global initiative aims to strengthen international collaboration to decarbonise the building sector and make clean technologies and sustainable solutions the most affordable, accessible and attractive option in all regions by 2030.

27 nations’ commitment

Twenty-seven countries pledged their commitment to Buildings Breakthrough when filing this news story.

The 27 countries which have pledged their commitment to the Buildings Breakthrough are: Armenia, Austria, Canada, China, Côte d’Ivoire, Egypt, Ethiopia, Finland, France, Germany, Guinea-Bissau, Japan, Jordan, Kenya, Liberia, Mauritania, Mongolia, Morocco, Netherlands, Norway, Senegal, Sweden, Tunisia, Türkiye, United Kingdom, United States of America, and Zambia.

These nations jointly represent around 34% of the global population, account for about 51% of global greenhouse gas emissions and contribute to approximately 64% of global gross domestic product. In addition, the European Commission and 18 international initiatives have announced their support.

Breakthrough Agenda

Unveiled at COP28 on December 6, 2023, the Buildings Breakthrough is part of the Breakthrough Agenda, which provides a framework for countries, businesses and civil society to join up and strengthen their actions every year in key emitting sectors through a coalition of leading public, private and public-private global initiatives.

Skyscrapers dwarf a construction crane in Boston City, Massachusetts, USA. Image: Arnold Pinto

The initiative is co-led by the Ministry for Ecological Transition and Territorial Cohesion of France and the Ministry of National Territory Planning, Land Planning, Housing, and City Policy of Morocco and coordinated under the auspices of the UNEP-hosted Global Alliance for Buildings and Construction (GlobalABC).

Under the Buildings Breakthrough, the UNEP/GlobalABC secretariat, the International Energy Agency and the International Renewable Energy Agency, together with the High-Level Climate Champions, will undertake an annual assessment of global progress in the sector, closely aligned with the UNEP/GlobalABC annual Global Status Report for Buildings and Construction.


Christophe Béchu, Minister for Ecological Transition and Territorial Cohesion of France, said: “The buildings sector is pivotal for future investments due to its cultural, economic, environmental, and social impact.

“Partnering with Morocco and 25 other nations, we call for more countries to join the Buildings Breakthrough and call governments and all stakeholders to join us in Paris for the Buildings and Climate Global Forum in 2024 to work towards near-zero emission and resilient buildings collectively.”

The first-ever Buildings and Climate Global Forum will be held on March 7-8, 2024, in Paris, France. They will unite construction ministers worldwide and stakeholders across the building sector value chain, including local authorities, NGOs, and businesses.

The twin Emirates Towers are surrounded by construction cranes in Dubai City, UAE. Image: Arnold Pinto

Sheila Aggarwal-Khan, Director of UNEP’s Industry and Economy Division, said: “UNEP supports the Buildings Breakthrough and welcomes governments’ pledges to near-zero emission and resilient buildings.

“We look forward to uniting nations and all stakeholders at the Buildings and Climate Global Forum next year. We are motivated to see frontrunners across the life cycle of buildings and construction delivering on their ambition. Together, we can reshape our built environment, ensuring a greener and more resilient tomorrow to pave the way for net zero.” 

UNEP and the 27 signatory governments used the COP28 platform to invite other nations worldwide to join the Buildings Breakthrough.

COP28 is being held at Expo City Dubai from November 30-December 12, 2023.

Featured image: Construction workers at a building project site in Boston City, Massachusetts, USA, on November 12, 2023. Image: Arnold Pinto

    Arnold Pinto

    Arnold Pinto

    Arnold Pinto is an award-winning journalist with wide-ranging Middle East and Asia experience in the tech, space, aerospace, aviation, defence, luxury watchmaking, business, fashion, and automotive verticals. He is passionate about conserving endangered native wildlife globally and protecting the world’s oceans from plastic pollution, overfishing, and climate change. Arnold enjoys 4x4 off-roading, camping and exploring global destinations off the beaten track.
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