Building Capacity for Climate Action: Adopting the Climate Framework
Posted: 8th June 2023
The built environment and construction industry, as well as associated professional and educational bodies, are showing a momentous culture shift, reporting much more awareness and activity around climate literacy than what was the case a few years ago. However, for every organisation striving for improvement, there are some stuck in ‘business as usual’ mode, making only limited, ad-hoc progress.
Some don’t even know where to start – either due to lack of resources within their organisations, or because of a shortfall on holistic expertise around the topics that are underpinned by climate change; including climate justice, circular economy, biodiversity, health and connectivity – among the heavily referenced energy and carbon. This has over the recent years, limited some of the leading industry organisations to move beyond their genuine commitments onto proper review and implementation of refreshed/new training programmes that incorporate core topics every built environment actor should be aware of and re-/uspkilled with.
The existing business models for content creation and delivery additionally prevent the fast uptake and dissemination of especially the implementation of such holistic training at scale. Where a cross-industry collaboration between various industry organisations, as well as industry and academia can collectively lead to this very needed outcome, the organisations fail to land on working models and systems that can prove to be financially and mutually beneficial to all parties involved. This hinders the delivery of climate-focused education and upskilling at the speed and scale it is needed.
The Construction Industry Council’s ‘Carbon Zero: the Professional Institutions’ Climate Action Plan’ presents a crucial roadmap to support Professional Institutes/Institutions (PIs) in this area, with commitments towards a collective end goal, and indication of clear actions, provided to enable them to create comprehensive action plans that address education and qualification in the industry’s fast changing landscape. With supportive actions that facilitate closer and stronger ties between industry and academia, this Action Plan serves as a means to establish the course of action for the PIs, in order to accelerate industry-wide re-/upskilling, along with other priorities (such as establishing new regulatory standards) that will continue to surface as essential actions across the built environment sector in the coming years.
There is a need for a forum and a facilitator entity to liaise within and beyond institutions, to identify programme and content gaps, and how to best fill them, while also encouraging the sharing of lessons learnt across the industry and academia. This is a clear area, where the global, transdisciplinary initiative – the Climate Framework – can continue to bring tremendous value to the industry, to all those across the sector and to the educators in academia:
- By offering a taxonomy/structure for climate knowledge, the Climate Framework helps standardise the language, as well as education around sustainability and climate change across the built environment sector. Developed in consultation over two years and with input from more than 750 individuals all around the world, the Framework contextualizes the UN Sustainable Development Goals for 2030 for the built environment, under six overarching topics of Human Factors, Circular Economy, Energy + Carbon, Water, Ecology + Biodiversity and Connectivity + Transport. (As the first book structured around the Climate Framework – the RIBA Climate Guide – now serves as a core resource for equipping all built environment professionals with the essential knowledge required to mitigate climate change’s impacts in their day-to-day work.)
- With its shared, online library and a learning platform for climate-focused knowledge and (currently more than 500) international resources, its Climate Library aims to ease the navigation for all the built environment audience (including practitioners, tutors, students, developers, policy makers, etc.), through a plethora of content (which currently exists in the public domain), and help them find relevant and useful resources, learn faster and fill gaps in their own knowledge, while also honing their skills.
- By creating a consortium of practitioners and academics, and working directly with Professional Institutes/ Institutions, Higher Education institutions, and other key industry bodies, The Cross-Industry Action Group (who advances the Climate Framework Initiative) facilitates content and knowledge gap analyses, opening-up existing, educational/Continuing Professional Development content (by eliminating siloing and repetition among different organisations), and structuring, as well as creating new content. This also includes developing tools and processes that make the adoption of the Climate Framework’s taxonomy/structure easier for organisations.
Re-skilling and upskilling, as well as lifelong learning have been pivotal in the discussions of the built environment professionals’ competence agenda, over the recent years. There is a clear need for a well-established and a common framework to change behaviours and improve competencies – with time, creating lasting generational change across the entire construction industry. The universal adoption of the Climate Framework as a shared taxonomy to define the baseline knowledge and skills for every built environment professional across the world, will bring the much-needed acceleration to the sector’s decarbonisation, while also ensuring holistic climate actions are taken for a resilient future for us and the generations to come.
This blog originally featured on the Futurebuild website.
Mina leads SOM’s sustainability and wellbeing daily operations and long-term vision for achieving excellence in practice. Developed in her leadership, the global Climate Framework Initiative unites industry and academia for collective climate action. She is also the author of the book – the RIBA Climate Guide – structured around the Climate Framework to equip built environment professionals with key knowledge to mitigate the impacts of climate change.
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