Climate Change and Resource Efficiency,

the Sustainable Building Engine


Leader SWITCH-ASIA SCP Facility
Senior Sustainability Expert

Arab Hoballah is a Senior Sustainability Expert, currently serving as Team Leader, SWITCH-Asia SCP Facility, since October 2017, a EU project aiming at promoting and delivering Sustainable Consumption and Production/SCP throughout Asia. From March to September 2017, he served as Executive Director of SEED, Entrepreneurship for Sustainable Development. He retired from the United Nations/UNEP in December 2016, after a long career devoted to advocating for and assisting various stakeholders on understanding, mainstreaming and delivering sustainable development, with major focus on resource efficiency and SCP.

Arab served as UNEP Chief of SCP since October 2005, with a particular focus on Lifestyles, Cities and Industry. Prior to that, he served in senior positions for 20 years in the UNEP/Mediterranean Action Plan and in development projects.

He advocates for mainstreaming Resource Efficiency and SCP policies at all levels, using systems and life cycle assessments, science for policy elaboration and implementation, and innovation and entrepreneurship for delivery. He has launched various global initiatives and partnerships related to buildings, cities, tourism and food. Among his achievements: putting SCP at highest level in the UN and Government strategies, adoption of the 10 Year Framework of Programmes for SCP and SDG12, active involvement in New Urban Agenda, and establishment of the Mediterranean Commission for Sustainable Development.

World Citizen, Arab is specialized in systemic and prospective analysis. He holds a PhD in economic development and a master in international relations.

Climate Change and Resource Efficiency, the Sustainable Building Engine

Unprecedented rates of technical change have created much prosperity, but also a range of daunting challenges, most of which occur in cities, the “industries of the three quarters”, in terms of population, income, resource use and waste. Resource efficient and resilient cities will become increasingly a necessity as urban population and economic growth continue. Hotspots of vulnerability, cities are strategically positioned to drive the transformative change.

Relevant changes in the sources and use of resources can make a fundamental contribution to the achievement of sustainable consumption and production (SCP).

In this context of uncertainties, where the world is looking for effective solutions, the building and construction sector can be a leader, being a low-hanging fruit in terms of resource and energy efficiency, providing the structural basis for adequate policies and market instruments, effective partnerships and pro-active multi-stakeholders governance system.

However, despite various policies, building councils and rating systems, green and sustainable buildings are still just a “drop in the ocean”, compared to the needs and what could be easily achieved. Why effective decoupling, scaling up and replication are not the norms? Is it mainly about knowledge, technology and finance or also if not mostly because of people behaviour and political responsibility?