Children in Albania rehearse their play, “The Windmill”, about the climate crisis. Photo by Plaku Production/Save the Children. More content available here
NEW YORK, Monday 5 June – From touring theatre plays, to letter-writing, to radio shows: thousands of children in 24 countries across the world are marking World Environment Day by launching a “week of action” to draw attention to issues of the climate crisis and inequality.
Supported by Save the Children as part of its Generation Hope campaign to support children to raise their voice, the young people involved hope that their calls for change will be heard by leaders and policymakers as they prepare for the review of progress on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at the UN General Assembly in New York in September.
In Albania, a group of child campaigners recently undertook a survey looking into the impact of air pollution across four major cities and found it had negative impacts on children including asthma, headaches and lack of concentration at school[i]. Now, those same children have been inspired to produce and perform a play to educate older generations about why change is needed.
Martina, 15, is one of the children involved in the play “The Windmill”, being picked up again this week after attracting an audience of 300 people back in December. The 12 children involved, aged between 10 and 16, aim to reach a total of 300 more people before the SDG summit in September.
Martina plays the part of a girl named Sara who is taking part in a community project to install a windmill in her village to generate renewable energy. She said: “Our show addresses climate change and economic inequality, which are important issues because they affect our daily lives and the sustainability of the planet.
“These issues affect my life and that of many other children because they cause natural disasters, negatively affect the planet and economic inequality brings crises in health care and access to education. With this show we hope that people will become aware and act against economic inequality and climate change.
“In my opinion, adults should listen to children because we have unique ideas and perspectives that will help us move forward.”
Meanwhile, in other parts of the world, children are using the week of action to write letters to leaders about how the climate crisis is already taking its toll on their lives. In Uganda, 13-year-old Doreen will send a letter saying: “There is no rain and crops are not growing because they’re not watered. We shall not have food. What is going to be done to solve this problem?”
Last year, Save the Children reported that the hunger crisis in Uganda, caused largely by extreme weather events, had led to parents sending toddlers of pre-school age to school with their older siblings to share their free school meals.
In Nepal, a giant white teddy bear that is two month into an epic six-month journey around the country to raise awareness of air pollution is going into schools to meet children and record their concerns.
And in Peru, Save the Children is facilitating dialogues between child-led organisations, including from migrant and ethnic minority communities, to discuss how the climate crisis and inequality are affecting their rights, and how they can try to effect change. These children are now sharing these concerns with leaders in a variety of ways that speak to the diversity of languages and cultures in Peru, including writing their hopes and demands in letters, and recording audio and video of themselves. Some are also meeting with authorities directly to voice their demands.
Inger Ashing, CEO at Save the Children, said:
“For years now we have seen children and young people all over the world take to the streets, march, and demand that their leaders take action to tackle the climate crisis.
“This year marks the halfway point of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) agreed upon seven years ago – it’s a critical point to reflect on where we are and determine the steps we need to take for children around the world. As we approach the SDG summit in September it is compelling to see children express creative ways to demand change.”
“The climate crisis has an impact on almost every aspect of children’s lives, from having enough food on the table to having a safe and secure home to being able to concentrate in the classroom during scorching heatwaves. And it is the children most affected by inequality and discrimination who bear the brunt of climate change, time and again. This World Environment Day, we hope that leaders across the world will listen to what children are saying and step-up climate financing to create a greener, fairer planet for and with children.”
Building nature positive into the energy transition
Published by wbcsd on 2 June 2023 and written by: Pete Jones, Manager, Nature, Diana Ferrari, Manager, Energy & Mariana Heinrich, Director, Energy, this following insightful view of our world of today appears to be a soft-spoken description of the diverse but global and uniform maltreatment of our mother nature.
Nature is the backbone of the world economy. Industries from agriculture to energy impact and depend on the natural world to thrive. Global populations and economies continue to grow, as do their demands on nature and natural resources. Future resilience and prosperity demand that these needs are managed sustainably.
Wildlife populations have decreased by 70% in the last 50 years,1 which puts multiple ecosystems at risk of collapse. The energy sector accounts for 10% of the pressures causing biodiversity loss,2 with oil & gas and utilities having a particularly high impact, largely due to pollution, greenhouse gas emissions and impacts on species and their habitats. Even renewable electricity technologies can have unintended effects on nature. For example, the total amount of land and sea area required to generate the world’s renewable energy requirements is circa 1 million km2, equivalent to almost twice the size of France.2 Any development close to this figure will result in the loss of natural habitats and undermine nature’s resilience to climate change effects. Therefore, we need a holistic framework as part of the global energy transition to address these impacts and, simultaneously, realize opportunities for nature restoration.
The good news is that in December 2022, the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework was adopted, providing the ambitious global aim of halting and reversing biodiversity loss by 2030. While delivering the targets set out in the Global Biodiversity Framework will be a shared task between governments, businesses, financial institutions and civil society, we need more investment, particularly from the private sector, to scale up efforts. This insights piece describes what businesses can do now to take action as required by the Global Biodiversity Framework.
At WBCSD, we are helping companies navigate and manage their nature-positive journeys by providing guidance for consistent and credible business actions, including for specific value chains. Our Roadmaps to Nature Positive are mapping the key nature impacts and dependencies and are identifying priority actions across three high-impact global value chains: land-based (Food & Agriculture and Forest), built environment, as well as energy. This is aligned with broader efforts to map sector transitions to nature-positive in collaboration with Business for Nature and the World Economic Forum.
Our team will lead a workshop at the Reuters Global Energy Transitionin New York on 7 and 8 June. Learn more about what we will cover at the bottom of this blog!
Nature Positive Roadmap for the Energy System
The Nature Positive Roadmap for the Energy System will provide tools and guidance for companies to implement nature-positive transition plans using the globally agreed high-level actions for nature: ACT-D, i.e., Assess, Commit, Transform and Disclose. In addition, it will support companies in setting science-based targets for nature (in line with the Science Based Target Network (SBTN)) and applying the Taskforce for Nature-Related Financial Disclosures (TNFD) framework to nature disclosures.
Emerging insights so far include that:
The energy system will play a key role in contributing to the Global Goal for Nature: it has broad and significant impacts on nature, including water use, air pollution and emissions, land intake, habitat fragmentation and disturbances during construction and operation. But it also has massive potential to drive nature-positive change within its value chain and beyond as an essential component of the supply chains of almost all public and private entities, as well as final customers.
It is key to consider trade-offs between impacts on nature, climate and people: especially in the energy system, climate impacts have been at the forefront of company actions so far, but the increasing momentum around nature offers an opportunity to rebalance and consider the overall implications for all three topics.
We need deep collaboration along the entire value chain to be able to implement impactful transformative actions at a global scale. To enable this collaboration, transparency is required on KPIs, baselines, disclosure and targets so that these can be embedded into each step of the value chain. New metrics are needed for that, and developing and testing these new metrics will take time, as will building partnerships within the value chain that catalyze nature-positive innovation.
TNFD pilot project with WBCSD members
Alongside the roadmap development, six WBCSD member companies have been involved in our TNFD energy system pilot, testing its draft version and providing feedback to the TNFD as well as on the Nature Positive Roadmap.
Key findings to date:
The piloting companies already have policies and processes in place to manage and monitor impacts, risks and opportunities associated with nature. Most of them focus on addressing their own impacts, e.g., through converting habitat, using water or via emissions. Some pilot companies are already applying concepts such as “net-positive impact” or “net gain” to individual projects, particularly for biodiversity.
To capture the wider nature-positive agenda beyond biodiversity, pilot companies are now undertaking gap analyses between their existing commitments, practices and management tools and what working toward nature-positive requires. Such analysis is necessary to integrate nature-positive aligned approaches more explicitly into strategic business planning and management processes, as well as identify any capacity/skills needed to implement them.
New for many companies is the need for a deeper focus on nature impacts and dependencies arising in upstream activities and, for some companies, in their products sold downstream. One possible approach explored during the pilot is to do an initial, qualitative assessment to prioritize those business units for a more detailed assessment.
The overall work on the Roadmap for the Energy System will continue through 2023 and most of 2024, releasing outputs for companies to use along the way – the first ones in Q3 2023. WBCSD is also setting up an SBTN Preparer Group and scoping a TNFD Preparer Forum. These will help companies to get ready to set science-based targets for nature and TNFD-aligned disclosures.
Join us at the Reuters Global Energy Transition Conference for a deep dive into energy and biodiversity
Our team will be leading a workshop at the Reuters Global Energy Transition 2023. As one of Reuters’ flagship events, the conference will gather 750+ executives in New York on 7-8 June to shape and deliver the energy systems of the future. At our workshop, the attendees and us will share advice on how to accelerate nature-positive action via three focused break-out groups:
How to apply the 2022 Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF) to your business – what targets and metrics are needed?
How to implement the TNFD to help your business – how to integrate biodiversity into enterprise strategy and risk management processes?
How to take Nature Positive action on the ground – what actions are other companies already taking to reverse impacts and restore biodiversity?
The purpose of the workshop will be to provide attendees with ideas and examples of approaches already used, or proposed, to address the questions above. Attendees will leave the workshop better equipped to drive nature action within their businesses.
Mariana Heinrich (WBCSD Director, Energy Pathway), Pete Jones (WBCSD Manager, Nature and secondee from ERM) and Margaret O’Gorman (President, Wildlife Habitat Council) will run the workshop. We hope to see you there! Register here to attend.
We Expect A Lot From Our Buildings — How Do International Codes Assure Sustainability?
Today, society faces 3 major challenges in the built environment: ensuring building safety, improving sustainability, and addressing our affordable housing crisis.
May is Building Safety Month. Up-to-date international codes can make communities more equipped to endure increasingly frequent and severe weather events, improve sustainability, and address the affordable housing crisis. This year, innovation and collaboration are evolving due to the increasing frequency and severity of global weather events. All communities need building codes to protect their citizens from disasters like fires, weather-related events, and structural collapse.
It seemed to make sense to learn more about how modern and innovative international building codes address these imperatives, how code officials work day in and day out to keep the public safe, and how the International Code Council is enabling the flow of innovative policies and practices around the world to improve the built environment.
Q: Thanks for making yourself available to answer some questions. For those unfamiliar with the International Code Council, why is it in existence, and what effect has it had on cities and towns across the globe?
Dominic Sims, CEO of the International Code Council, Photo provided by International Code Council
The International Code Council was established in 1994 as a non-profit organization dedicated to developing a single set of comprehensive and coordinated model building codes. The mission of the Code Council is to steward the development process for model codes that benefit public safety and support the industry’s need for one set of codes without regional limitations. We are a member-focused association with members from across building industries who come together to participate in our democratic and transparent process to develop the most widely used set of building safety codes and standards in the world – the International Codes® (I-Codes®).
Our technical staff works closely with legislators and code officials to help jurisdictions implement the most appropriate set of codes for their specific regions.
Q: I’m struck by the call for reciprocity toward improving sustainability and addressing the affordable housing crisis. These 2 objectives seem not to be related. Might you offer some insights into their symbiosis?
We expect a lot of our buildings. They are complex systems that have broad ranging impacts on our lives and communities. They protect us from hazards, influence our health, and impact our environment. Finding the balance across all these expectations while maintaining affordability is challenging, but the Code Council and governments must navigate these complexities.
Housing affordability is particularly important for low and moderate income households. These households are often the hardest hit by disasters — many of which are exacerbated by climate change — and lack the resources for post-disaster recovery. At the same time, they spend a disproportionate amount of their income on utility bills — in some places 3 times as much as the average household. When we talk about housing affordability, it’s not just whether we can get someone in a house but whether they can afford to stay there.
The International Code Council is currently the only code development organization that actively considers cost as an element of the code development process. Through the code development, process stakeholders from across the building industry come together to identify the best practices for safety and sustainability while ensuring the resulting buildings remain affordable and accessible to broad populations. Naturally, individual communities have their own perspectives on priorities for their building stock. The Code Council provides communities with tools to achieve those priorities from model codes that capture the current consensus to stretch codes that can assist communities in going beyond minimum-level requirements.
Q: May is Building Safety Month. What should our readers know about the need to adopt modern, regularly-updated building codes?
Today, society faces 3 major challenges in the built environment: ensuring building safety, improving sustainability, and addressing our affordable housing crisis. Modern and innovative international codes are society’s first line of defense to address these imperatives. One of the most cost-effective ways to safeguard communities against natural disasters is to build using hazard-resistant building codes.
FEMA studies show that every dollar invested in the adoption of modern building codes provides 11 times more in savings by reducing casualties, lowering the cost of building damage and helping communities get back on their feet faster by minimizing indirect costs such as business interruptions and lost income. We want to emphasize to all communities the importance of adopting modern building codes and stress the critical importance of continued inspection and enforcement to keep buildings and their occupants safe and healthy. We also encourage local governments to fund their building departments to support the needed level of maintenance inspections.
The formula for success in implementing and supporting modern building codes and inspections is simple: staff, train, and finance.
Q: How is the building industry working to increase water efficiency through innovative practices and technologies — not just domestically but worldwide?
Logo provided by ICC
Innovation and collaboration must evolve due to global weather events’ increasing frequency and severity. There are many examples of countries in water-scarce areas that are innovating to increase water efficiency. Those involved in the code development process can draw best practices from the following examples across the globe:
Israel is leading the world through its policies, practices, and technologies for its water resources and conservation, most notably through reclaiming over 80% of its wastewater and stormwater for agricultural operation.
Saudi Arabia boasts the highest production of desalinated water worldwide (the country removes salt out of the Red Sea and the Persian Gulf) and is in the process of converting its desalination plants to solar.
Cape Town, South Africa is incorporating automated domestic water metering installations to set a target water usage for each resident per day, leveraging alternative water sources, and updating their supply network infrastructure.
The United Kingdom is cutting water use through water metering, incentives for water-saving technologies, hosepipe bans, and investing in updating the country’s water supply equipment.
The North China Plain has addressed increasing agricultural demands on water through increased monitoring, institutionalized water conservation practices, ground leveling, and more efficient drainage and irrigation sprinklers.
Q: How does Building Safety Month address some of the issues that we face as a global community, including extreme weather events and water scarcity?
Clean water is the world’s most precious commodity, and public health depends on safe and readily available water. The World Health Organization estimates over two billion people live in water-stressed countries, which is expected to worsen in some regions due to a changing climate and population growth. Water conservation and efficiency issues have become crucial conversations amongst building safety professionals in recent years. Building Safety Month raises awareness about these issues by reinforcing the need to adopt modern, regularly-updated building codes, and helps individuals, families, and businesses understand what it takes to create safe and sustainable structures.
Q: What additional details or insights might you provide on how we can institute these best practices in the US?
There is currently no national standard on maintenance and inspection. Individual states follow their own enforcement procedures to seek out, modify, adopt and enforce their own building codes and standards. Currently adopted codes, which local jurisdictions can, and do, modify on a case-by-case basis, may or may not include provisions for building re-inspections and maintenance requirements. The International Property Maintenance Code® (IPMC®) established minimum requirements for the maintenance of existing buildings through model code regulations that contain clear and specific maintenance and property improvement provisions. The latest edition is fully compatible with the International Building Code® (IBC®).
Every jurisdiction needs to understand what their specific regional needs are so that their building, maintenance, and re-inspections codes have appropriately specific provisions for the natural, environmental, and emergency conditions more prevalent in their area (e.g., Florida hurricanes, Kansas tornadoes, California earthquakes and wildfires).
Current climate policies will leave more than a fifth of humanity exposed to dangerously hot temperatures by 2100, new research suggests.
Despite the Paris Agreement pledge to keep global warming well below 2°C (compared to pre-industrial levels), current policies are projected to result in 2.7°C warming by the end of the century.
The new study, led by researchers at the Global Systems Institute, University of Exeter, associated with the Earth Commission, and Nanjing University, assessed what this would mean for the number of people living outside the “climate niche” in which our species has thrived.
It says about 60 million people are already exposed to dangerous heat (average temperature of 29°C or higher).
And two billion – 22% of the projected end-of-century population – would be exposed to this at 2.7°C of global warming.
The paper highlights the “huge potential” for decisive climate policy to limit the human costs and inequities of climate change.
Limiting warming to 1.5°C would leave 5% exposed – saving a sixth of humanity from dangerous heat compared to 2.7°C of warming.
The study also finds that the lifetime emissions of 3.5 average global citizens today – or just 1.2 US citizens – expose one future person to dangerous heat. This highlights the inequity of climate crisis, as these future heat-exposed people will live in places where emissions today are around half of the global average.
In “worst-case scenarios” of 3.6°C or even 4.4°C global warming, half of the world’s population could be left outside the climate niche, posing what the researchers call an “existential risk”.
“The costs of global warming are often expressed in financial terms, but our study highlights the phenomenal human cost of failing to tackle the climate emergency,” said Professor Tim Lenton, director of the Global Systems Institute at the University of Exeter.
“For every 0.1°C of warming above present levels, about 140 million more people will be exposed to dangerous heat.
“This reveals both the scale of the problem and the importance of decisive action to reduce carbon emissions.
“Limiting global warming to 1.5°C rather than 2.7°C would mean five times fewer people in 2100 being exposed to dangerous heat.”
Defining the niche
Human population density has historically peaked in places with an average temperature of about 13°C, with a secondary peak at about 27°C (monsoon climates, especially in South Asia).
Density of crops and livestock follow similar patterns, and wealth (measured by GDP) peaks at about 13°C.
Mortality increases at both higher and lower temperatures, supporting the idea of a human “niche”.
Although less than 1% of humanity currently live in places of dangerous heat exposure, the study shows climate change has already put 9% of the global population (more than 600 million people) outside the niche.
“Most of these people lived near the cooler 13°C peak of the niche and are now in the ‘middle ground’ between the two peaks. While not dangerously hot, these conditions tend to be much drier and have not historically supported dense human populations,” said Professor Chi Xu, of Nanjing University.
“Meanwhile, the vast majority of people set to be left outside the niche due to future warming will be exposed to dangerous heat.
“Such high temperatures have been linked to issues including increased mortality, decreased labour productivity, decreased cognitive performance, impaired learning, adverse pregnancy outcomes, decreased crop yield, increased conflict and infectious disease spread.”
While some cooler places may become more habitable due to climate change, population growth is projected to be highest in places at risk of dangerous heat, especially India and Nigeria.
The study also found:
Exposure to dangerous heat starts to increase dramatically at 1.2°C (just above current global warming) and increases by about 140 million for every 0.1°C of further warming.
Assuming a future population of 9.5 billion people, India would have the greatest population exposed at 2.7°C global warming – more than 600 million. At 1.5°C, this figure would be far lower, at about 90 million.
Nigeria would have the second-largest heat-exposed population at 2.7°C global warming, more than 300 million. At 1.5°C warming this would be less than 40 million.
India and Nigeria already show “hotspots” of dangerous temperatures.
At 2.7°C, almost 100% of some countries including Burkina Faso and Mali will be dangerously hot for humans. Brazil would have the largest land area exposed to dangerous heat, despite almost no area being exposed at 1.5 °C. Australia and India would also experience massive increases in area exposed.
The research team – which included the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, and the Universities of Washington, North Carolina State, Aarhus and Wageningen – stress that the worst of these impacts can be avoided by rapid action to cut greenhouse gas emissions.
Speaking about the conception of their idea, Professor Marten Scheffer, of Wageningen University, said: “We were triggered by the fact that the economic costs of carbon emissions hardly reflect the impact on human wellbeing.
“Our calculations now help bridging this gap and should stimulate asking new, unorthodox questions about justice.”
Ashish Ghadiali, of Exeter’s Global Systems Institute, said: “These new findings from the leading edge of Earth systems science underline the profoundly racialised nature of projected climate impacts and should inspire a policy sea-change in thinking around the urgency of decarbonisation efforts as well as in the value of massively up-shifting global investment into the frontlines of climate vulnerability.”
Wendy Broadgate, Executive Director of the Earth Commission at Future Earth, said: “We are already seeing effects of dangerous heat levels on people in different parts of the world today. This will only accelerate unless we take immediate and decisive action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”
Architectural design is crucial in the construction industry for several reasons:
Functionality: Architectural design ensures that the building or structure is designed to serve its intended purpose effectively. It takes into account the needs and requirements of the users, incorporating various functional aspects such as spatial planning, circulation, and accessibility. A well-designed building enhances productivity, efficiency, and overall user experience.
Aesthetics: Architectural design adds visual appeal and beauty to a structure. It considers elements such as proportion, scale, balance, materials, colors, and textures to create a harmonious and visually pleasing environment. Aesthetically pleasing buildings not only enhance the quality of life for occupants but also contribute to the overall urban or rural landscape.
Safety and Structural Integrity: Architectural design plays a crucial role in ensuring the safety and structural integrity of a building. It takes into account factors such as load-bearing capacity, structural systems, resistance to natural forces (e.g., earthquakes, wind), fire safety, and adherence to building codes and regulations. Proper architectural design minimizes the risks associated with structural failures, accidents, and disasters.
Sustainability: With growing concerns about environmental impact and resource conservation, architectural design plays a vital role in promoting sustainability in the construction industry. Designers consider strategies for energy efficiency, water conservation, use of eco-friendly materials, waste reduction, and integration of renewable energy systems. Sustainable architectural design minimizes the ecological footprint of a building and contributes to a greener future.
Economic Considerations: Architectural design influences the economic aspects of a construction project. Effective design can optimize the use of space, reduce construction costs, and improve operational efficiency. It takes into account factors such as lifecycle costs, maintenance requirements, and adaptability to future needs. Well-designed buildings have the potential to increase property value and attract occupants, contributing to long-term economic viability.
Cultural and Social Context: Architectural design is influenced by the cultural and social context in which it is situated. It takes into account local traditions, cultural values, and community needs. Architecture can reflect and reinforce cultural identity, provide spaces for social interaction, and contribute to the overall well-being of communities.
In summary, architectural design is essential in the construction industry because it ensures functionality, aesthetics, safety, sustainability, economic viability, and cultural relevance in the built environment. It integrates various considerations to create well-designed and meaningful spaces that positively impact individuals, communities, and the environment.
Originally posted on HUMAN WRONGS WATCH: Human Wrongs Watch (UN News)* — Disinformation, hate speech and deadly attacks against journalists are threatening freedom of the press worldwide, UN Secretary-General António Guterres said on Tuesday [2 May 2023], calling for greater solidarity with the people who bring us the news. UN Photo/Mark Garten | File photo…
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