For two weeks from 6 to 17 November, it felt like the whole world was watching as 25,000 visitors from 195 countries descended on Bonn, the former German capital, to work on the implementation of the Paris Agreement. As one of the approximately 500 NGOs in attendance, the DGNB played an active part in six of the events during the conference.
‘Bula’ – an eye-catching word featured at the entrance of the Bonn Zone, where events took place on twelve of the conference days overall, each revolving around a climate protection project. Bula is Fijian for welcome. But the greeting at the entrance was not the only evidence of the country that held the presidency for the Conference of the Parties (COP). This year the event was presided over by the Republic of Fiji, the archipelago of 300 small islands in the South Pacific.
Once you penetrated beyond the entrance and the tight security controls, you entered the Bonn Zone on the banks of the River Rhine. It was here that the Fijian influence really became palpable. And also in the Talanoa Space; “Talanoa” is a well-known concept on Fiji and in the South Pacific. It is a term for inclusive, transparent dialogue, in which people listen to each other, respect each other’s perspectives and seek solutions that benefit everyone. [i],
Strong international interest in the DGNB
“This was an intensive two-week period that showed which of the levers keep getting jammed,” states Dr Christine Lemaitre, CEO at the DGNB. “Many things have made it into people’s heads but these things are still not making it down to their hands. There are a number of flagship projects, like nearly zero-energy buildings, and these do show what’s possible. But when it comes to translating this into wide-scale planning and construction, we’re still trying to get out of the starting blocks,” states Lemaitre. This is why it was important for the DGNB to take part in a large number of events at the climate change conference:
9th November: Building Action Symposium:
The COP23 week of the DGNB got underway with the Building Action Symposium, which was coordinated by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the Global Alliance for Building and Construction. The focal topic of the event was “How to achieve the Paris Agreement? Identifying key ingredients to achieving a low-carbon, energy efficient buildings and construction sector”.
— DGNB (@DGNB_eV) 9. November 2017
9th November: In parallel to the Building Action Symposium, in the Chinese pavilion there was an event on “Entrepreneurship and innovation in the age of emission reduction”. The DGNB was the only non-Chinese co-organiser of the event and Johannes Kreißig, Managing Director DGNB GmbH.
10th November: The motto of the day in Bonn on Friday was ‘Shaping a Sustainable Future’. The Federal Chamber of Architects (BAK) organised a tour of Bonn, providing a bird’s-eye view not only of the city, but also of the Cologne/Bonn Sparkasse (savings bank), which has gold certification from the DGNB. More.
11th November: To continue the theme of the Building Action Symposium, on the Saturday there was the Human Settlements Day in the Bonn Zone. Also involved in the panel discussion: Dr Christine Lemaitre, CEO of the DGNB, who talked on the topic of ‘Encompassing embodied carbon and life cycle emissions for sustainable buildings’.
We’re building our environment, not just our shelters; considering #lifecycle emissions in #design phase is crucial for future-proofing our #environment, says @c_lemaitre_dgnb CEO @DGNB_eV #COP23 #greenbuilding pic.twitter.com/kd2d8fBsQm
— WorldGBC (@WorldGBC) 11. November 2017
12th November: On the Sunday at the World Climate Conference, the topic tackled by Johannes Kreißig, Managing Director of DGNB GmbH, was ‘Cementing a low-carbon construction sector’.
— CementCSI (@CementCSI) 12. November 2017
13th November: The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) outline 17 sustainability goals and targets for the future development of our planet with the aim of changing long-term thinking and thus facilitates life in a world of sustainability.. The event on Monday in the Bonn Zone revolved around these goals, with a focus on the key targets that affect the building sector, such as SDG 11. This event was moderated by Dr Christine Lemaitre, CEO)of the DGNB.
14th November: Organisations were asked to submit suggestions for their own events in the run-up to the World Climate Conference. Perhaps the biggest day for the DGNB was Tuesday 14 November, when its event took place in the German pavilion on ‘Building for the future: how to plan and construct buildings focusing on climate issues and human needs’.
Staying present in people’s thoughts
Since it became clear that the United States is now the only country to withdraw from the Paris Agreement, all of the other countries are doing everything they can to send a clear signal to the States to show that the agreements made in Paris are irrevocable. Just one of the hashtags being used to demonstrate unity and the common goal of limiting global warming to no more than two degrees by 2050 is #makeourplanetgreatagain.
Bonn is considered an important stepping stone because the guidelines drafted at the event will form the basis of the 24th World Climate Conference, which will take place in Katowice (Poland) next year. It is during this event that the Paris Agreement should be signed off.
One thing the event in Bonn has shown is that the time to act is now. The understanding is there, and the facts lie before us for everyone to see, but now something has to be finally done about it. This is because it is already evident today that Germany will not achieve its climate protection goals for the year 2020. This was also one of the reasons why as Europe’s largest network for sustainable building, we were keen to play an active role at this year’s World Climate Conference.