“In the finance sector, we're seeing green loans and branchless banking. If you can provide access to financial services through technology and partnering with local vendors, you don't need to build all these buildings and to run them and to cool them or heat them.
“We have over 4,000 buildings in the Network and running them is responsible for over 80 percent of our direct greenhouse gas emissions. When we take construction of the building into account, the cement, the steel, this increases dramatically.
“To accommodate the building requirements we expect by 2060, the world needs to add the equivalent of a new city the size of New York every month for 40 years. If we keep doing this the way we always have, we will have a really tough time achieving the aggressive carbon reduction and energy reduction targets that we've set ourselves as a world and as a Network. So we need to reduce the emissions of current buildings but also think about alternatives to creating new ones. Can we repurpose an existing building? Can we extend its lifespan to delay or avoid the need for new construction?
“How do we utilise what we already have? There have been some technology-related, almost revolutionary ideas in the past decade or so. Companies like Airbnb use underutilised buildings and avoid potential new construction. We see the same with transport.
“In many places where we work, there is a big need for new infrastructure. There we can build something multipurpose and flexible, trying to anticipate how our needs may change in the coming decades. Could an office work as a school or a factory, a community space or a concert hall? The more open spaces, with partitions rather than unmoveable concrete walls, the more flexible.
“In places like Western Europe or North America, we have to retrofit what we already have, which is much more expensive and much more difficult than to do it all over again from scratch. But where we work, we have a really big opportunity to leapfrog carbon-intensive development and to go straight into the development of the future. And this is the opportunity that we need to enable in Asia and Africa.
“The growing global population adds to the demand on resources. But it also means we have more and more young people with lots of energy and ideas. Children today have grown up completely fluent in technology. I think something similar is happening with climate. If you have so many millions of climate champions, they will come up with ideas and solutions that we can't even think of today. But we need all hands at the pump to give ourselves and the next generation the chance to do something about this before it's too late.”