How COP28’s Timber Coalition Tackles Carbon in Buildings!

A coalition of the world's largest timber producing and consuming countries will make it easier to build timber buildings!

Thu 07 Dec 23


A coalition of 17 countries, responsible for 26% of the global timber production, have signed a historic pledge to accelerate the number of timber buildings constructed worldwide.

Known as the “Initiative for Greening Construction with Sustainable Wood”, the pledge was signed by leaders from Australia, Canada, the Congo, Costa Rica, Fiji, Finland, France, Germany, Ghana, Japan, Kenya, Norway, Pakistan, Sweden, Ireland, UK and the USA at COP28 in Dubai.

The countries, along with Brazil, Russia, India and China, represent the world’s largest forest markets with the pledge committing the coalition too:

“Recognising that wood from sustainably managed forests provides climate solutions within the construction sector, we commit to, by 2030, advancing policies and approaches that support low carbon construction and increase the use of wood from sustainably managed forests in the built environment. Such policies and approaches will reduce GHG emissions and increase stored carbon.”

The Initiative for Greening Construction with Sustainable Wood pledge

The pledge, made under the auspices of the Forest & Climate Leaders’ Partnership (FCLP) and in close liaison with the Global Alliance for Buildings and Construction, was co-chaired by US Special Presidential Climate Envoy, John Kerry and the Minister of Lands and Natural Resources for Ghana, Samuel Jinapor.

It “recognises that wood from sustainably managed forests provide climate solutions within the construction sector,” with the group committed to “increase the use of wood from sustainably managed forests in the built environment.”

Significantly, it will support and promote the use of timber from “sustainable sources”, which includes PEFC, FSC and affiliated national certification schemes in future government procurement.

In an exclusive with Wood Central, award-winning architect and international judge Mark Thomson said certification plays a critical role in verifying the credentials of sustainably managed forests – footage courtesy of @WoodCentral

Forest certification is an essential step in reducing deforestation and driving the use of non-conflict timbers, with Wood Cental Contributor and World Architecture Festival judge Mark Thomson revealing that “certification schemes like PEFC and FSC play a crucial role in ramping up supply volumes to meet future demand.”

It has pledged to advance public policies in wood production, reduce barriers to using timber in construction, scale up research and development in design and construction and promote greater knowledge transfer between borders.

According to Dr David Brand, Chair of New Forests – the world’s largest nature-based investment manager, the pledge is an important step “as countries move to lower carbon emissions and increase stored carbon.”

Dr Brand, chair of the newly formed International Sustainable Forestry Coalition, said, “The construction sector and the built environment accounts for more than a third of global emissions,” and stressed the need to replace plastics with fibre-based products. 

In September, the UN released a new blueprint calling on the construction industry to build less, use more sustainable materials and ‘clean up” traditional materials to meet climate commitments.

The report strongly supports substituting steel and concrete-based building products with timber, bamboo and biomass materials—footage courtesy of @PBSNewsHour.

The findings come from a major report published by the UN Environment Programme and the Yale Centre for Ecosystems and Architecture, calling for a circular” approach to building materials. 

Focusing on ‘Avoid, Shift and Improve,’ it calls on policymakers, manufacturers, architects, developers, engineers, builders and recyclers to address the billowing emissions from construction activity.

It reports that substituting carbon-intensive building materials, like steel and concrete, for bio-based materials like timber, bamboo, and biomass will save emissions by up to 40% by 2050.

“However, more policy and financial support are needed to ensure the widespread adoption of renewable bio-based building materials,” with concrete, steel and aluminium accounting for 23% of global emissions.

Welcoming the announcement, Natasa Silkman, the Acting CEO of the Australian Forest Products Association, said it was “an important step in the right direction by the Australian Government to build confidence in the timber construction market.”

According to Ms Silkman, the announcement builds on the recognition in the latest report from the Australian government’s Climate Change Authority (CCA), which cited the ‘carbon stored in trees’ as well as ‘harvested wood products’ helped reduce Australia’s greenhouse emissions in the year to June 2023. 

Regarding wood encouragement policies, Japan, France, and Canada lead the world for favourable public policy – introducing policies that strongly prefer timber construction systems over concrete and steel systems.


  • Jason Ross

    Jason Ross, publisher, is a 15-year professional in building and construction, connecting with more than 400 specifiers. A Gottstein Fellowship recipient, he is passionate about growing the market for wood-based information. Jason is Wood Central's in-house emcee and is available for corporate host and MC services.


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