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 05-07 March 2019 / ExCeL, London

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17 Apr 2018

The construction and property sector can lead the way on the SDGs

Sue Riddlestone, OBE, Chief Executive and Co-Founder of Bioregional

This year’s Ecobuild, held in London last month, was framed by the question: how can the construction and property sector help achieve the SDGs and the Paris Climate Agreement?

You may know about Bioregional from our eco-communities like BedZED, or our One Planet Living framework. But Bioregional also has a lot of expertise in the SDGs from our four-year formal role in the UN process in New York to create them. Now, we are championing putting them into action, for example through the work of UKSSD which we co-founded, our new-build One Planet Communities, and the support we are providing to partners.

We brought our enthusiasm and expertise on the subject to Ecobuild as a conference partner, and organised workshops and conference slots to explore how the sector can get started with the SDGs. We also invited people to make their pledges for action at our stall (in return for a multi-colour SDGs lapel pin).

To gauge awareness, we asked more than 100 Ecobuild attendees if they already knew about the SDGs. Alarmingly, 58% of the people we spoke to had never heard of them. And among those who had heard of them, most didn’t know how to get started using them.

How to get started in building a better future

One of our main aims at Bioregional is to provide practical support for companies with ambitions to become more sustainable. So, after seeing this need, we have created a guide for those in the built environment who want to get started with the SDGs.

Download our guide: Build a better future with the Sustainable Development Goals.

It’s an easy read and is designed to save you a lot of time – we know that it can be difficult to get your head around something as large as the SDGs! It explains why the Goals matter, how they are relevant to the sector and shares how companies including Cundall, Rockwool and others are already working with the SDGs.

Our guide also details the practical steps you can take to get started – acknowledging that you probably won’t be starting from scratch – and how you can measure and report on the process.

Why is it so vital for the sector to get involved?

We all know that the built environment sector has an essential, even urgent, role to play in delivering on our climate change targets and making it easy to live and work in a sustainable way. Just looking at carbon alone, buildings and construction account for 40% of global carbon emissions. What we build today will almost certainly be in use in 32 years (2050) – by which time the whole world needs to be zero carbon, consuming no fossils fuels at all.

With sustainability on the agenda for a few years now, the industry knows how to create sustainable buildings and communities, as well as how to address other SDGs like gender equality. Let’s renew our resolve and commitment to get the job done and create a built environment where we can look our children in the eye and honestly say that, when we had the chance to make a difference, we did the right thing.

During Ecobuild we asked each of the thirteen conference session chairs to summarise the top three things that the industry could do, and the one ask of government to deliver on Paris and the SDGs. Ecobuild will shortly publish a document summarising the key asks for the built environment sector, and for government.

For the built environment sector, the first ask was: “Take action, start today.” I couldn’t have put it better myself.

Join the conversation

We’d love to hear what you think about our new guide Building a better future with the SDGs, and how you are working to deliver the SDGs in the built environment. You could share your own pledges on Twitter using #ImWithTheSDGs.

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