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EmiratesGBC Annual Congress calls for urgent decarbonisation of the global buildings sector

The conference looked at topics such as built environment, innovation, technology, resilience, and LEED. (Image source: EmiratesGBC)

The twelfth edition of the Emirates Green Building Council (EmiratesGBC), which was held at the Grand Plaza Mövenpick Media City on 8 June in Dubai, spotlighted the role of the built environment as a critical solutions provider for a resilient and zero-emissions future

The event united policymakers, regulators, industry leaders, and academia around shared climate goals at its 12th Annual Congress, and was held under the theme, ‘Pathway to COP28: The Role of Sustainable Built Environment in Accelerating Climate Action’. Organised ahead of the upcoming 28th Conference of the Parties (COP28), the conference called for greater collaboration to sharpen accountability and accelerate the transformation of the built environment. EmiratesGBC, an independent forum aimed at conserving the environment by strengthening and promoting green building practices, hosted prominent regional and international experts at Grand Plaza Mövenpick Media City who discussed and debated the challenges and opportunities in driving the sector’s green transition.

Dr Ali Al Jassim, chair of EmiratesGBC, welcomed guests and Ambassador Lars Steen, Consul General of Denmark, delivered the keynote address. 

The Congress organised panel discussions under thematic sessions namely, COP28: Prospects and Aspirations, Transition to Net Zero, Green Finance for the Built Environment, and Innovation, Technology, Resilience and LEED. The Congress went beyond the realm of sustainable building practices, offering insights into lessons learned from COP27 and expectations from COP28. Recognising the pivotal role of the private sector in driving sustainability, the Congress highlighted the importance of private sector engagement in COP28.  From effective building policies to the integration of sustainable design processes, valuable insights for driving decarbonisation, sustainability, and Net Zero were also discussed during the event. Additionally, participants emphasised the role of green finance in supporting sustainable development and explored the latest advancements in glass decarbonisation and heating systems.

In her opening remarks, Eng Naseibah Almarzooqi, director of studies, research and development department at the Ministry of Energy and Infrastructure, highlighted the strong commitments made by the UAE to embedding sustainability across all aspects of the construction sector, which accounts for 37% of energy emissions and over 34% of energy demand globally. 

The UAE has demonstrated its capabilities in improving the resilience of the building sector in the country by laying down guidelines to cut emissions across the full lifecycle of buildings, starting from planning, designing and execution to operation and maintenance. Eng Almarzooqi, also pointed out the UAE’s leading role in developing a decarbonisation roadmap for 22 countries in the region to support net zero goals in the construction sector by 2050. As a key member of the Global Alliance for Buildings and Construction (GlobalABC), the UAE has also been spearheading efforts globally and prioritising action to ensure that the buildings and construction sector are on track and aligned with the Paris Agreement goals, she added.

Calling for inclusive action amongst all stakeholders, Eng Almarzooqi, further pointed out that at the upcoming COP28, the UAE would draw global attention to the importance of developing low carbon building materials to help decarbonise the construction sector and contribute to achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Highlighting the power of collaboration in supporting the necessary decarbonisation pathways, Dr Ali Al Jassim, Chair of EmiratesGBC, urged industry stakeholders to accelerate action across the value chain for the sustainability transition of the built environment.

Al Jassim said, “We are united by a common purpose—to build a sustainable tomorrow. EmiratesGBC’s 12th Annual Congress serves as a platform for us to learn from one another, share best practices, and explore innovative solutions that will drive the transformation of our built environment. Together, we stand at the forefront of change, ready to make a significant impact on our journey toward a greener future.”

Stating that COP28 would be witness to the UAE's unwavering dedication to the preservation and safeguarding of the planet, he called on all stakeholders to take collective responsibility in shaping a more sustainable world. Celebrating 2023 as the Year of Sustainability is an affirmation of the UAE’s steadfast commitment to placing sustainability at the forefront of its agenda, he added. 

“The challenges that lie before us are significant, but they are not impossible. By harnessing our collective knowledge, expertise, and passion, we can chart a path toward a more sustainable future,” Al Jassim concluded.