Wood in construction can bring huge benefits that help us to deliver the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, but are there also any trade-offs? At COP24 this week, we are presenting preliminary findings of our SDG Impact project.
The UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, agreed in 2015, set 17 Global Goals for 2030, with hundreds of targets and indicators to measure our progress against. At the Nordic Wood in Construction Secretariat we are setting out to better understand the links between the SDGs and wood in construction.
Where does using wood bring us closer to meeting those goals, and where could it pose a risk?
We know that using more wood in construction can have huge benefits for the SDGs, such as mitigating against climate change (SDG13), building sustainable cities (SDG11), and improving our health (SDG3). But also:
Can increased wood in construction also provide new, sustainable jobs in rural areas?
Does wood offer efficiencies for transport and packaging compared to other construction materials?
Do buildings constructed in wood require less maintenance?
However, nothing can be all good, and what we don’t hear enough about is where there might be trade-offs in the SDGs and increased use of wood in construction. It's therefore important to ask:
How might an increased demand for wood impact on the ecosystem integrity, biodiversity, and adaptive capability of our forests?
Is wood more difficult to reuse and recycle than other construction materials?
What about competition with biofuels for land and resources?
These are just some of the questions we’re setting out to answer in our project, SDG Impact. With our Swedish partners, Projektengagemang, we are analysing the barriers and challenges in the Nordics to furthering the use of wood in construction. At the core of SDG is a survey study, completed by experts from across the Nordics and throughout the wood in construction value chain.
Through this study, we hope to map out how the wood construction value chain may support or hinder the SDGs, in more detail than has been done previously. This will help us to select areas of intervention for the Nordic Wood in Construction Secretariat from 2019 onwards.
At the UN’s COP24 meeting in Katowice, Poland we’ll be presenting some preliminary findings of the study, and hosting a panel debate with representatives from industry, as well as the Finnish and Swedish governments.
Stay tuned to our newly launched twitter feed for updates from COP24, with further finding due to be published in 2019.