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ARCOM Conferences

36th Annual Conference – Glasgow, UK
7-9 September 2020

Track 5: The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): A Framework For Building a Common Good for the Built Environment

Lead: Dr Alex Opoku & Prof. Lloyd Scott

In 2015, the 193 member states of the UN adopted the 2030 agenda for sustainable development which set out 17 interlinked Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and 169 targets, supported by 232 indicators aimed at transforming people, protecting the planet and ensure prosperity for future generation (UN, 2015). Even though the built environment has a negative impact on the environment, it also has the greatest opportunity to impact positively through development projects. Reducing the impact of the built environment should be an integral part of policies and strategies towards a sustainable built environment (Opoku, 2018).

The built environment is also described as critical for the achievement of the SDGs due to the impact of the built environment on a number of SDGs. Opoku (2016) believes that the built environment could greatly affect the realisation of SDG2 (End Hunger), SDG 3 (Good Health & Well-Being), SDG4 (Quality education), SDG6 (Clean Water & Sanitation), SDG7 (Affordable & Clean Energy), SDG8 (Decent Work & Economic Growth), SDG9 (Industry, Innovation & Infrastructure), SDG10 (Reduced Inequalities), SDG11 (Sustainable Cities & Communities) and SDG13 (Climate Action) and SDG15 (Biodiversity). A sustainable built environment designed with energy efficient infrastructure can contribute meaningfully to reducing the demand for energy and eventually reducing the impact of climate change.

Thuesen and Opoku (2018) argue that, the SDGs are important and that the academic community have a pivotal role in achieving the goals. This however requires connecting research and education with policy, industry, technology and civil society. Again, Opoku and Guthrie (2018) add that, the academic community must equip graduates with the sustainability knowledge, skills and experience needed to solve the sustainability challenges faced by the global community through a higher education curriculum embedded with sustainability literacy.

The SDGs provide business organisation with a new lens through which to translate global needs and desires into business solutions (UN Global Compact, 2017). The construction industry as a sector has the opportunity to influence the realisation of the SDGs by formulating policies and regulatory frameworks that drive the adoption of sustainable construction practices in delivering a more sustainable built environment (Opoku, 2019). The SDGs provides a framework for business organisations of all sizes, sectors and geographical locations to play a crucial role towards the realisation of the SDGs by embracing the opportunities it presents. The SDGs should be embedded into the organisational culture to change the mind-set of employees in achieving sustainable growth which is essential for a prosperous society (UN Global Compact, 2017). To successfully deliver the 2030 Agenda for sustainable development, the business community should engage with other stakeholders. Construction industry business leaders should collaborate with government, industry peers and policymakers to link the SDGs with long-term business strategies and work towards the realisation of the world we want.

The track seeks to explore the link between the SDGs and built environment. Topics may include but not limited to the following: Resilient & Sustainable Infrastructure, Localising the SDGs, Education for Sustainable Development, Businesses and the SDGs, Engineering for Sustainable Development, Smart Cities and Communities, Urban Regeneration and Sustainable Development, Sustainable Housing, Sustainable Procurement, Leadership for Sustainable Built Environment etc.


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