Post-disaster toolkit launched to build back better sustainably

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World Green Building Council launches practical guide for sustainable reconstruction in southern and eastern Mediterranean.

Together with the European Bank for Reconstruction & Development (EBRD), UN Habitat, and Green Building Councils in Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon and Palestine, the World Green Building Council (WorldGBC) has launched its Sustainable Reconstruction & Recovery Framework, a “post-disaster toolkit” to help communities build back better across the southern and eastern Mediterranean and beyond.

Bringing together local and international expertise, the Sustainable Reconstruction & Recovery Framework advances a holistic, inclusive and resilient approach to reconstruction in these regions experiencing natural disasters and conflict.

The framework is structured around six themes which emphasise that disaster risk reduction and the sustainable urban reconstruction of the physical environment can restore the wellbeing of communities, revitalise livelihoods, and support social and cultural life. The resource does not propose a one-size-fits-all solution but highlights key issues and methods to create bespoke solutions for individual and community-wide sustainable reconstruction projects.
 
The six themes or guiding principles to sustainable reconstruction are: –

1. Efficient resource utilisation.
2. Environmental and climate resilience.
3. Sustainable mobility.
4. Integrative social and economic resilience.
5. Health and wellbeing.
6. Heritage.
 
The solutions toolkit builds on the body of existing WorldGBC frameworks for health and wellbeing and whole life carbon, as well as EBRD’s environmental and social policies and corresponding performance requirements.

Cristina Gamboa, CEO, World Green Building Council, said: “As we build momentum to the UN Climate Conference COP27, the priority must be on facilitating knowledge for an equitable transition to sustainable, low-carbon infrastructure solutions that bolster resilience for all communities and economies. The Sustainable Reconstruction and Recovery Framework is a toolkit for disaster-hit areas that does just that for all the countries located in the southern and eastern Mediterranean.

“Working across six principles, the framework acknowledges the challenges and delivers pathways of actions to take advantage of the opportunities for sustainable reconstruction. We look forward to working with our partners and Green Building Councils to accelerate the framework’s contribution to unlocking the restoration of ecosystems, communities and economies in the region and beyond.”
 
Why a sustainable reconstruction framework?

The Middle East and North Africa region, including the southern and eastern Mediterranean (SEMED), is the most water-stressed region in the world, and is heating at twice the rate of the global average. From extreme heat waves, extensive drought periods, flash floods, coastal erosion and cyclones, the last half-century has seen the area experience an increase in extreme weather events. Along with climate change, communities are experiencing rapid urbanisation and an increase in civil unrest, conflicts, and infrastructure degradation.

Estimates suggest that over US$560bn will be needed across the region just to rebuild in countries like Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Libya and Gaza. In Lebanon, losses from the 2020 port explosion are estimated between $4-5bn and the reconstruction costs are estimated around $10bn. In Jordan, there are 660,000 UNHCR-registered refugees – one of the fastest population increases in history – requiring an urgent need for infrastructure expansion and service provisions in a sustainable and equitable manner.

Adonai Herrera-Martinez, director environment and sustainability, EBRD environment and sustainability department, said: “Centred on a set of detailed technical guidelines, this work reflects international best practice on sustainable urban infrastructure reconstruction and development. Recommendations are applicable to other neighbouring regions such as MENA and Sub-Saharan Africa. The framework incorporates the EBRD environmental and social policy and its performance requirements and will leverage the broad WorldGBC network for outreach and capacity building.”