Geneva, 24 October 2017
The 2017 World Resource Forum gathered more than 400 leaders from government, business, research and NGOs in Geneva, Switzerland on 24 & 25 November to talk about how to accelerate the resource revolution. The Concrete Sustainability Council (CSC) was invited to hold a workshop on “Sustainable Sourcing of Construction Materials” on the first day of the event.The workshop welcomed over 30 participants to discuss around the following questions:
- Why responsible sourcing certifications are becoming increasingly important?
- What are the essential challenges of responsible sourcing of construction materials and how should these questions be addressed?
- What is the market expectation when looking at responsible sourcing of materials?
Bernard Mathieu of LafargeHolcim, opened the workshop by stating clearly the objectives of the discussion: to explain to the audience about the importance of responsible sourcing of building materials throughout the whole construction sector; to present the journey the CSC has undertaken in developing the first comprehensive sustainability label for concrete, cement and aggregates; to exchange about successful initiatives in this field, understand the main drivers, challenges and solutions for the deployment of responsible sourcing schemes for building materials.
Certification plays a vital role in communicating the voluntary actions undertaken by a business and should be accounted for in the stakeholders' view. Society will have more and more say on products’ sustainability and responsible sourcing system (RSS) is the tool to ensure that the right choices are made, said Giulia Carbone of International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
Anna Braune of German Sustainable Building Council (DGNB) pointed out that certify sustainable building is the right way to go. It ensures transparency, spurs innovation, increases brand value and reputation thus reducing risk and regulatory compliance costs.
The business case is clear: certification creates economic value, but it needs to be credible, multi-stakeholder, capable to create innovation and measure continuous performance, further stated by Norma Tregurtha of ISEAL Alliance.
Successful initiatives launched in different region were also presented to the audience. S Karthikeyan of Confederation of Indian Industry-Sohrabji Godrej Green Business Centre (CII-Godrej GBC) said that demand for sustainable buildings is increasing as is the demand for credible green building products and the industry felt the need to develop a certification for products and materials, adapted for the Indian market and based on life cycle assessment and international standard.
Stefan van Uffelen, CSC Coordinator explained that certification is a strong instrument to scale-up, harmonize and standardize sustainability practices and raise awareness throughout the whole value chain. Alignment with rating systems, fiscal programs, green public procurement and instruments from the financial sector is key. Next step is to measure and report the impact on, for example, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The institutional perspective was provided by Cuno van Geet of RWS Environment who made the point that green public procurement is a key driver of change. Sustainable products need sustainable clients and incentives to be successful.
Leo Dekker of Mebin, HeidelbergCement shared with the participants his experience as a user of the CSC Certification. He explained why his company invested in the certification and how it benefitted from it. In the Netherlands, Leo explained, there is an advanced sustainability policy and legal framework as well as a strong institutional recognition for these initiatives which are expected to increase.
Concluding the workshop, Bernard asked the panelist which is the priority action, among those discussed, to accelerate the deployment of the CSC responsible sourcing system:
- Large companies have to invest on this certification to convince the rest of the market that it is the right way to go;
- Diffuse the system broadly to reach a critical mass to convince public authorities to recognize it in public procurement;
- Convince politicians to act and to recognize voluntary actions which reduce impacts on extraction and climate change;
- Create awareness and create demand on end users;
- Involve stakeholders;
- Understand how to include China;
- Harmonize and improve synergies with other standards.