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Sustainable timber and the built environment: an opportunity to reach net zero

Continued global urbanization and population growth trends suggest that global buildings’ stock will have to double by 2060. This is equivalent to adding the floor space of one New York City every month for the next 40 years. With buildings responsible for 40% of global climate emissions, such growth must happen in a radically different way as the world has to transition to net-zero emissions and nature-positive economies.

One of the promising solutions for realizing such transitions in the built environment lies in the scaled-up use of nature-based products such as sustainable mass timber. Innovative timber construction materials can help substitute materials with a high-carbon intensity, sequester carbon in buildings, and contribute to increasing natural carbon sinks through reforestation and sustainable forestry practices. By acting and transitioning to nature-positive construction, countries can create jobs, boost their economies and improve the health of their citizens.

To support this transition and unlock the potential of sustainable mass timber in the built environment, the World Economic Forum is collaborating with EIT Climate-KIC, The Nature Conservancy and the World Resources Institute as part of the Climate-Smart Forest Economy Program (CSFEP). The CSFEP is seed funded by Good Energies Foundation and supported by Dalberg.

The CSFEP’s overarching goal is to unleash the climate benefits of forests and forest products, catalysing further momentum and investment in the sector. The identification and support for emblematic breakthrough initiatives, demonstrating that potential, constitute a core aspect of the CSFEP. As part of the Program, the Forum is convening a cross-sector group to move sustainable timber solutions for the built environment from niche to mainstream. To learn more about this work, please contact stephanie.burrell@weforum.org