Built sector should formulate strategies for climate adaptation, says Obih — Property — The Guardian Nigeria News – Nigeria and World News

Ruth Obih is a lawyer, and real estate entrepreneur, passionate about creating a thriving real estate sector in the country.

She is the founder and Chief Executive, 3Invest Limited, one of Africa’s leading real estate brands. She spoke with CHINEDUM UWAEGBULAM on the forthcoming real estate conference, climate tech, sustainability and Environmental, social and governance (ESG) in the built environment.

Many property developers have failed to conduct Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) on projects. How do we ensure developers build right and adopt sustainable environmental practices?
GENERALLY, I believe the goal is what matters. When an organisation has a sustainability agenda, its objective is to do right and take ethical decisions. The purpose of an EIA is to determine the potential environmental, social, and health effects of a proposed development so that those who make the decisions in developing the project and in authorising the project are informed about the likely consequences of their decisions before they take those decisions and are thereby more accountable.

Therefore, it is recommended that indicators for sustainable development and their progress be fully monitored. Performance indicators should always be established; not only for project implementation but also during and after the implementation process to make sure that all mitigation measures are satisfactorily implemented. This can be achieved by linking the license granting authority for action to the actual implementation of these measures.

To secure the environmental sustainability of an environmental project, it is also important to have the EIA document as an integral part of the license application document, and readily available during site inspections.

How does the built sector impact the implementation of the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)?
Humanity is at the centre of the SDGs. The UN Global Compact has its tenets focused on the important principles of human rights, labour and the environment. These principles clearly illustrate humanity needs to unite to promote responsible sustainable actions among organisations in underdeveloped nations in achieving the global agenda. Most of the important targets of the goals are centred on making humanity a better place to alleviate poverty and end human suffering.

It is imperative for companies to align their corporate social responsibilities with the goal to ensure there is no poverty, tackling climate change and promoting fairness and gender equality.

Companies in the built sector have to create their process and operations to drive prosperity, innovation and investment by ensuring global best practices and strict adherence to environmental policies as well as the promotion of fundamental human rights.

The built environment is a major factor in ensuring that there is substantial economic growth that would help fulfil most of humanity’s basic needs, which include the provision of adequate shelter and adequate opportunities for the attainment of the global agenda.

According to research by GRESB, out of 25 real estate companies achieving at least one five-star, GRESB rated fund identified commitment to 13 of the 17 SDGs to some extent. Improvement of housing, especially in slums and informal settlements, is an important contribution to achieving SDG 10.

Carbon and energy covering SDG13 (Climate Action – 70 per cent adoption) and SDG7 (Affordable and Clean Energy – 52 per cent adoption) proved the most common actions relating to the operation of real estate assets. SDG5 (Gender Equality – 52 per cent adoption) proved the most popular actions that are internal to each organisation. Fewer than half of the sample group aligned with any other SDGs despite the notable impact real estate can have on SDG3 (good health and wellbeing) and SDG 11 (sustainable cities and communities).

The built sector must formulate new strategies and business processes to adapt to the rising challenges created by population growth, economic meltdown, unemployment and climate change.

Therefore, it is imperative for companies to strive toward the attainment of the sustainable development goals by contributing toward economic growth, provision of affordable housing, creating employment opportunities and ensuring humanity has a conducive and habitable environment.

After the Paris Agreement, a lot more is expected from the industry players. How do you galvanise them to embrace the concept of sustainability?
I think I will start by explaining what the Paris Agreement entails. The Paris Agreement sets out a global framework to avoid dangerous climate change by limiting global warming to well below 2°C and pursuing efforts to limit it to 1.5°C.

Being responsible for 40 per cent of total global energy-related CO2 emissions, the built environment plays a vital role in delivering the Paris Agreement. Achieving climate neutrality by 2050 requires a fundamental transformation of the construction and building sectors.

Getting the real estate players to embrace sustainability is our holistic goal. Our plan is to create a community of stakeholders who are passionate about sustainable development and culture. Encourage education and participation in sustainability-related activities.

Recognise organisations that are taking the lead in sustainability and finally lobby for ESG regulations, policies and better incentives for this community.

Despite rapid population growth and urbanization, building green can help us achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The only way to achieve the goals of the Paris agreement is to bend the demand curve for energy through increased energy efficiency.

Buildings account for 36 per cent of final global energy use and more than 55 per cent of electricity demand. To meet two-degree Celsius scenario targets, average building energy use per person globally needs to fall by at least 10 per cent by 2025.

Getting on that trajectory through energy savings in buildings can help us achieve the double bottom line of reducing greenhouse gas emissions while meeting the development requirements of fast-growing economies.

To accomplish a true transformation of building practices, we must demonstrate a clear business case for building green based upon widely agreed standards and practices that are strongly linked to resource efficiency and reduced emissions.

This year’s summit will be centred on climate tech, sustainability, Environmental, social and governance (ESG). Can you throw more light on the theme – Towards a Sustainable Culture?
Technically, the land construction and real estate sector is one of the most influential globally when it comes to impacting the health and wellbeing of people and the environment.

Economically, the sector represents more than 50 per cent of global wealth. By providing housing, the land, construction and real estate sector fulfils one of humanity’s basic needs. However, beneath these opportunities lies the global crisis that must be tackled.

With rising populations, rising seas and threatened ecosystems, cities need new options. By 2050, two-thirds of us will live in cities; United Nations research shows that rising seas will erase more cities by 2050.

The real estate sector is responsible for 40 per cent of all carbon emissions globally, the industry has both the obligation as well as the opportunity to make an extraordinary impact in creating a healthier, safer and cleaner planet.

Therefore, for inclusive, economic growth and shared prosperity, the built environment as a matter of urgency must begin to take the lead in the planning, designing, and managing more resilient and sustainable communities.

To achieve shared prosperity, Real Estate Unite Summit had been redesigned to address global challenges and encourage the built environment in Africa to embrace a sustainability culture.

The built environment and related activities have traditionally been notorious for depleting natural resources and adversely affecting the environment, economy and society, thereby also compromising future generations.

Thus, integrating and mainstreaming sustainability considerations into built environment-related activities are encouraged by recent sustainability agendas.

The built sector has a substantial sustainability impact through land development, resource use, waste generation and labour practices throughout its life cycle. The sector impacts either directly or indirectly the implementation of almost all United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

On this pedestal, the Year 10 Edition of the Unite Summit will be centred on climate tech, sustainability and ESG with the Theme – Towards a Sustainable Culture.

For the global goals to be achieved, we must encourage real estate organisations and those that invest in, commission and use land and built assets to widen the scope of their current policies and strategies by making ESG considerations to help achieve a sustainable future.

What are your plans for the Real Estate Unite in the next decade?
We have three key advocacy agendas at 3INVEST. To fill the industry gaps, to raise awareness of climate tech, sustainability and ESG in the built environment, and to drive immeasurable investment in healthcare real estate.

Our goal when we started Real Estate Unite in 2012 was to fill the gaps in the real estate sector using dialogues, conversations, media and technology to influence initiatives, control narratives and find solutions to the issues and challenges in the sector.

It was the “filling the gaps” agenda that led us to sustainable development with the “Towards a Sustainable culture” agenda to raise awareness of climate tech, sustainability and ESG in the built environment. In addition, our goal is to drive and attract immeasurable investment in healthcare real estate as our research shows that healthcare is a key factor driving investment decisions in Africa.

On the other hand, the Unite Sustainability Awards will now recognise, empower, and spotlight organisations and projects by embracing the sustainability culture as well as making ESG considerations and aligning with the United Nations SDG goal.

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