COP28 Lessons, Breakthroughs, and Where We Go From Here

COP28 witnessed groundbreaking announcements from the IFC Team, emphasizing our commitment to sustainable development in emerging markets.

It’s a new year in the fight against climate change, and the IFC Team is rested from the holidays and ready to put ideas into tangible action. Before moving forward, however, we’d like to revisit the milestone achievements, partnerships, and initiatives coming out of December’s United Nations Climate Change Conference. Our team met with global leaders, government officials, and private sector stakeholders conducting important conversations on the zero carbon transition and working to build momentum towards concrete steps that will have an impact on the climate crisis.  

COP28 witnessed groundbreaking announcements from the IFC Team, emphasizing our commitment to sustainable development in emerging markets, and while there is still much more work to be done, let us look back at some of the key highlights and next steps as we join the road to COP29 in Azerbaijan.  

Here’s a summary of our key accomplishments unveiled during the conference: 

IFC’s Support for UNEP-GlobalABC Buildings Breakthrough Target

Through our climate tools including EDGE Green Buildings and the Building Resilience Index, IFC officially endorsed the Buildings Breakthrough Target, a transformative initiative led by the Government of France and the Kingdom of Morocco, under the UNEP-hosted Global Alliance for Buildings and Construction (GlobalABC). As the first private sector-focused development financial institution to support the breakthrough, IFC offered its endorsement to the global goal of achieving “near-zero emission and resilient buildings as the new normal by 2030.”  

The Buildings Breakthrough agreement emphasizes the pivotal role of financial institutions in fostering a resilient and inclusive transition to low-carbon building practices globally. IFC’s commitment to green buildings, including $12.2 billion in total investment since 2015, and the certification of more than 70 million square meters of green floor space through EDGE, underscores its dedication to the sector’s decarbonization.  

A recent IFC flagship report estimates an investment potential of $1.5 trillion in Green Buildings in emerging markets—this is not an opportunity we take lightly, and we look forward to continuing to lead this effort when we convene with world leaders and international development banks at the UNEP Buildings and Climate Global Forum this March in Paris.  

Collaboration with Gensler to Promote Low-Carbon Building Certification 

In another groundbreaking collaboration, IFC joined forces with Gensler, the world’s largest architectural design firm, at COP28. The partnership aims to expand the reach of IFC’s EDGE Green Building certification program and enhance awareness and adoption of Green Building practices globally.  

Gensler has committed to training its design leaders to champion EDGE standards, contributing to the goal of addressing global greenhouse gas emissions originating from the built environment. With approximately 40% of annual global emissions linked to the construction sector, the collaboration is a significant step towards a sustainable built environment.  

UK-IFC Market Accelerator for Green Construction (MAGC) Funding Expansion 

In alignment with the UK Prime Minister’s ‘call for an era of action,’ at COP28, the UK government announced a £36 million expansion for the UK-IFC Market Accelerator for Green Construction (MAGC) program. With a focus on elevating green construction practices in emerging and developing economies, this funding expansion underscores the commitment to combat climate change by promoting certified Green Buildings. MAGC supports IFC financial intermediary clients in developing profitable portfolios of certified Green Building investments, contributing to the global effort to minimize emissions from the built environment. 

WATCH: IFC’s MAGC Program in Africa 

Net Positive Certification for Low Carbon and Resilient Hotels 

The Sustainable Hospitality Alliance, in collaboration with IFC, introduces ambitious plans for a new level of EDGE Green Building certification and the Building Resilience Index. This collaboration aligns with the Alliance’s Net Positive Hospitality framework, emphasizing not only energy, water, and carbon measures but also climate resilience and biodiversity considerations. The certification represents a crucial step towards harmonizing standards in the hospitality sector, with the Sustainable Hospitality Alliance’s CEO, Glenn Mandziuk, expressing enthusiasm for tangible actions accelerating the industry’s journey towards Net Positive Hospitality. 

WATCH: Green & Resilient Hotels Webinar Series with IFC-EDGE and Sustainable Hospitality Alliance 

Global Cooling Watch Report and the Cool Coalition Pledge 

IFC contributes to addressing the escalating issue of cooling sector emissions through its endorsement of the Global Cooling Watch report. Released during COP28, the report outlines sustainable measures, including passive cooling and higher energy efficiency standards, to cut predicted 2050 sectoral emissions by 60-96%. Supporting the Global Cooling Pledge, over 60 countries committed to reducing the climate impact of the cooling sector, signifying a collective effort to address green finance and decarbonization of the built environment. 

She Wins Climate Initiative to Empower Women Entrepreneurs in the Green Economy 

IFC launched the She Wins Climate initiative at COP28, aiming to partner with entrepreneurship support organizations to enhance opportunities for women entrepreneurs in the green economy. Recognizing the gender gap in climate tech investments, the initiative seeks to address challenges faced by women-led businesses by increasing access to capital. The five-year program will improve the capacity of accelerators and venture capital funds to reach women-led startups working on climate solutions, aligning with the broader goal of advancing gender equality and addressing climate change impact. 

What’s Next? 

IFC’s initiatives at COP28 underscore its aggressive commitment to transformative climate action, ranging from sustainable building practices and global cooling solutions to empowering women entrepreneurs and expanding green construction practices globally. The scale of the challenge is massive, but it is matched by our team’s drive and dedication to make an impact. Will you join us in this fight?  

Join the Global Green Building Movement 


Diep Nguyen-van Houtte, Sr. Manager, Climate Business Dept., IFC

About the Author:

Diep Nguyen-van Houtte, Sr. Manager, Climate Business Dept., IFC

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