United NationsDepartment of Economic and Social Affairs Sustainable Development

SDG12 Resource efficient housing


    The buildings and construction sector accounted for 36% of final energy use and 39% of energy and process-related carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions in 2018, 11% of which resulted from manufacturing and procurement of building materials and products such as steel, cement and glass (GlobalABC, 2019)— making the building sector the single most significant industry in terms of emissions. In addition, the building sector consumes 12% of freshwater and 30% of raw material and it generates approximately 20% of water effluents and as much as 40% of landfill waste globally (WEF, 2016). With the rapid urbanization and population growth, the importance of the buildings and construction sector with regards to sustainable development is increasingly recognized. The building and construction sector plays a key role in implementing the SDGs and Paris Agreement, and the decisions made today in the rapidly urbanizing developing countries will have long-lasting impacts on the state of the planet and life on earth. While 136 out of the 184 parties who submitted NDCs mention buildings, most do not include concrete policy actions or targets for their buildings and construction sector (GlobalABC, 2019). UNEP’s International Resource Panel demonstrated that material efficiency strategies in the buildings and construction sector, for example, would significantly reduce GHG emissions (IRP, 2019).


    In support of the goals of the One Planet Sustainable Buildings and Construction Programme (SBC Programme), the aim of this Joint Programme proposal is to offer a strategic approach for the United Nations to help countries in addressing resource efficiency by focusing on improving the sustainability of buildings and their impact on the environment, in particular on carbon emissions. The different outputs and activities planned under this initiative are expected to result in (i) strengthened national commitments and objectives for sustainable buildings and construction in two pilot countries and (ii) strengthened technical resources for United Nations Country Teams (UNCT) to support governments in mainstreaming sustainability, resource efficiency, and climate change in the buildings and construction sector to achieve the 2030 Agenda and the Paris Agreement. The specific objective of the programme is to equip UN country teams with the necessary tools and information to: 1. Support governments in transforming their buildings and construction sector to be a resource-efficient, low carbon and climate-resilient sector, through coherent policy support and results-focused programming based on science and facts. 2. Raise awareness and strengthen the capacity of national stakeholders on sustainable buildings and construction-related benefits and opportunities with an emphasis on material efficiency. 3. Contribute through the UN country presence to develop and strengthen the productive links among construction sector stakeholders for the efficient use of resources from a circular economy perspective.

    Contribution to SDG Implementation

    Through more emphasis on the issue of materials efficiency, the proposal is a game-changer for SDG12 as it combines added value from the participating UN-Agencies while delivering on mainstreaming state of the art know-how on sustainable buildings and construction practices and analysing the value for governments to make the shift towards more sustainable practices. In addition, the proposal is situated at a strategic crossroad between SDG 12 and SDG 11, taking advantage of urban development processes and sustainable buildings and construction. This approach is novel to the way in which the UN works on programme and project development and adds an important lens to the issue; where it is expected that private sector interest is prompted and thus SDG implementation is also accelerated. Main SDG targets to be addressed by the Joint Programme ● 12.2. By 2030, achieve the sustainable management and efficient use of natural resources ● 12.5 By 2030, substantially reduce waste generation through prevention, reduction, recycling and reuse ● 12.7 Promote public procurement practices that are sustainable, in accordance with national policies and priorities ● 12.8 By 2030, ensure that people everywhere have the relevant information and awareness for sustainable development and lifestyles in harmony with nature ● 11.1 and 11.c on adequate and sustainable housing and sustainable construction materials.

    Implementation methodologies

    Ongoing process. Currently, the Inception phase and Stocktaking has been developed and the project is currently establishing the working process with the selected countries. The next steps will be to develop an initial country analysis and roadmap to set up the basis for the resource-efficient housing programme analysis.


    The different outputs and activities planned in this proposal are expected to result in (i) strengthened national commitments and objectives for sustainable buildings and construction in two pilot countries and (ii) strengthened technical resources for UNCTs to support governments in mainstreaming sustainability, resource efficiency, and climate change in the buildings and construction sector to achieve the 2030 Agenda and the Paris Agreement. Moreover, it is expected that UNCTs, supported by the participating UN organizations (PUNOs), have enhanced capacities to utilise the potential of the buildings and construction sector to raise resources for the implementation of national sustainable development plans and Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). In view of the importance of procurement in buildings and construction projects, the programme will include relevant information for sustainable procurement in the guidance developed and technical support provided in the pilot countries.

    Factors and Constraints

    Enabling factors: - Alliance between 3 agencies of the UN. UN-Habitat, UNEP and UNOPS to implement the programme. - One Planet Network Multi purpose trust fund finance for the joint programme. -Sustainable Buildings and Construction Programme of the One Planet Network (SBC) support -Technology to develop a global programme remotely, especially due to Covid19 Constraints: - Covid19 impact on the countries construction sector and overall population crises - Limited funding for a broad programme with high expectations

    Sustainability and replicability

    The programme has high sustainability and replicability. One of the main objectives is to build an advocacy package to be mainstreamed and implemented in this and other countries. A global approach to resource-efficient housing. The joint programme will provide guidance to UNCTs and governments by collecting, improving, and disseminating tools and approaches to: ● Mainstream sustainable buildings and construction approaches that are tailored to local contexts (e.g. through using country assessments, building and construction roadmaps, NDC guidance, etc.) ● Guide and support countries national buildings and construction value chain stakeholders in developing coherent sustainable buildings and construction strategies, plans, policies and regulation, and processes to support sustainable and resource-efficient materials use in planning, design, procurement, construction, operation, maintenance, and decommissioning for buildings and construction. ● Establish National Alliances for Buildings and construction, strengthen local skills and capacities and encourage locally adapted research and innovation on sustainable and resource-efficient materials use. ● Assess the investment value in SBC approaches, with an emphasis on housing sector-related programmes. The above-mentioned guidance will be presented as an SBC Mainstreaming and Advocacy package for UNCTs and will be piloted in one or more countries jointly with the UNCT, leveraging on the PUNOs country presence as well as that of the SBC member’s country presence.

    COVID-19 Impact

    Covid19 has impacted the timing of the programme, especially because teams in the global programme and the countries were scattered and facing crisis activities.

    Contact Name
    Geographical coverage

    Sri Lanka

    01 September 2020 (start date)
    28 December 2022 (date of completion)
    More information
    Burkina Faso
    Burkina Faso
    Contact Information

    Christophe , Housing Lead Specialist