Across the Nordic region, expanding the use of wood as a construction material is becoming an increasingly important strategy to help decarbonise the construction sector, and contribute to the region’s shared goal of becoming carbon neutral. Additionally, wood in construction leads to healthier buildings that are both resource and energy efficient, and supports local supply chains that drive rural economies.
Wood in construction therefore has great potential to positively contribute to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). However, with a reliance on a natural resource, there may be trade-offs in using more wood that are not currently well understood.
This study set out to shed light on where the positive impacts of wood in construction within the SDGs lie, and where trade-offs may be, so that they can be appropriately managed and minimised. Read more about how we went about it.
Take Home Messages
This study revealed that while increasing wood in construction has more abundant positive impacts on the SDGs compared to a limited number of potential negative impacts, benefits will neither be maximised, nor risks be managed, by chance. This will only happen with improved public polices and certification schemes to ensure sustainable forest management practices are adhered to; such efforts are currently ineffective to this end.
A lack of knowledge and understanding, even amongst the experts, indicates the need for research and increased knowledge-sharing of the SDG impact at different stages in the value chain, pointing to a need for research financing.
Moreover, while not necessarily a public responsibility, there is also a need for a platform for dialogue between key stakeholder groups to handle asymmetries in perceptions and knowledge.
This diagram indicates the opportunities and trade-offs at each part of the value chain:
- Improve policies, certification and forest management
- Make sure that potential conflicts between Wood in Construction and SDGs are understood and acknowledged by those in the industry
- Handle perception and knowledge asymmetries which may negatively impact the support of SDGs
- Consider mixed forests as an important climate adaptation measure
- Use means and design of construction to facilitate reuse and recycling of wooden materials
- Not view wood in construction as a silver bullet in reducing impacts through material choice – it will take a broader view
Key Quotes from the Surveyed Experts
“There are good and bad forestry practices, what we choose is a matter of access to knowledge and policy”
“A systems approach is needed so that conflicting policies do not arise”
“A strong legislation and follow-up will be increasingly important”
“The certification schemes must be different from today”
To take a deeper dive on some of the SDGs explored through this study, click on the icons below: