For a Zero Emissions and Resilient Built Environment, Regions & Cities

Why cities, regions and the built environment matter

Buildings are responsible for almost 40% of global energy-related carbon emissions and 50% of all extracted materials.

The building and construction sector’s demand on natural resources accelerates climate change, and inefficient, unhealthy buildings negatively impact human health and wellbeing.

BY 2050

  • 1.6 billion urban dwellers will be regularly exposed to extreme high temperatures
  • Over 800 million people living in more than 570 cities will be vulnerable to sea level rise and coastal flooding
  • By 2060 the world’s building stock will double and almost 70% of the global population is projected to live in urban areas

By 2030, efficient buildings will be an investment opportunity worth $24.7 trillion

Despite this, under $3 of every $100 spent on new construction goes to efficient buildings. Out of the 186 countries that have submitted Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), 136 countries mention buildings, 53 countries mention building energy efficiency, and 38 specifically call out building energy codes. Most countries do not include full building decarbonisation targets and certain areas such as building materials are under addressed.


Ahead of COP27, the #BuildingToCOP27 Coalition is working together to halve the built environment’s emissions by 2030 and establish the built environment as a major solution provider to the climate crisis. To do so, they have defined three outcomes for the sector:


All countries include full building decarbonisation targets, concrete policies and measures and related implementation mechanisms in their NDCs.


1,000 cities and at least 20% of the largest built environment businesses by revenue committed to the UN’s Race to Zero.


The sector’s stakeholders unite behind a single voice and ambition towards shared goals: By 2030, 100% of new buildings must be net-zero carbon in operation and embodied carbon must be reduced by at least 40%, and by 2050, all new and existing assets must be net zero across the whole life cycle (see UNFCCC Human Settlements Pathway)

UN High-Level Climate Action Champion at COP26

Let’s win the race to a zero emissions and resilient built environment, regions and cities

We can’t win the Race to Zero without winning the Race to Resilience as well. Climate breakdown and the pandemic multiply inequalities — social, environmental and economic gaps are widening across nations and across the Global North and South.


By 2030, we must catalyse action by non-state actors that builds the resilience of four billion people from groups and communities who are vulnerable to climate risks.


Representing nearly 40% of global energy-related emissions and 50% of extracted materials, decarbonising the built environment can rapidly accelerate climate action. The initiatives and accomplishments highlighted at COP26’s Cities, Regions and Built Environment Day are a launchpad for further climate leadership across the built environment system.


Week View →

Week of Events


Winning the Race to Zero means prioritising zero emissions buildings, infrastructure and cities

Businesses and sub-national governments are urged to join the Race to Zero. The Race to Zero’s goal by COP26 is to have 20% of the built environment sector by revenue to join the Race to Zero. This will create a ‘breakthrough point’ to help mainstream climate action in the sector.

Cities are urged to join the Cities Race to Zero, as major policy enablers and owners of real estate who can go further, faster.


But we can’t win the Race to Zero without winning the Race to Resilience as well

The Race to Resilience is catalysing a step-change in global ambition for climate resilience, putting people and nature first in pursuit of a resilient world where we don’t just survive climate shocks and stresses but thrive in spite of them.


We need to run these races together, at the same time — and win them both.



We need stronger and more built environment-related contributions in the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCS)

We urge countries to include decarbonisation targets for the entire building system / whole value chain, concrete policies and measures and related implementation mechanisms in their NDCs.


The Global Alliance for Building and Construction is working with its country members and beyond on a commitment ‘Buildings as Critical Climate Solution (BCCS)’ that will advance building sector measures at national level, creating the appropriate enabling environment towards a zero-emission, efficient and resilient buildings and construction sector.


The Virtual Pavilion is a coalition of 100+ partners across the built environment sector working together to give the sector a strong voice at COP26.  The Virtual Pavilion will enable widespread access and engagement with COP26 to complement activities happening in person, and provide an online legacy that will last far beyond November.

The Virtual Pavilion comprises two main elements:

An Exhibition

Exploring practical solutions to the climate crisis, through a showcase of leading sustainable projects and places from around the world in a bespoke Virtual Reality (VR) space, with an inspirational and artistic centrepiece. If allowed, the Exhibition will also be accessible via Oculus Rift headsets or iPads in the Green Zone.

A Programme of Events

A programme of tours and talks including keynotes, panels, discussions and more.

For more information contact

B2COP coalition logo caseWGBC-Building-To_COP26-Logo-Horz-Strapline-BLK copy 3@10x

Keep up to date and exchange your views ahead of COP26’s Cities, Regions and Built Environment Day with the WorldGBC, UKGBC and GlobalABC’s monthly engagement platform — the #BuildingToCOP26 Forum.

Thought Leadership

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We are the #BuildingToCOP27 Consortium

The #BuildingToCOP27 consortium is a group of organisations catalysing climate action in cities, regions and the built environment. We work closely with the UN High Level Climate Champions and the COP27 Presidency to shape the agenda of the Cities, Regions and Built Environment Day at COP27