Msheireb Downtown Doha, Qatar
Aerial view of a city.

COP28 Day 2 Recap: Leading the Way to Smarter, Greener Cities

Editor’s Note: Gensler attended COP28 in Dubai in early December 2023 to work with our partners toward sustainable solutions for the built environment. This post is the second in a series of daily recaps about our time at the event.

For the first time in history, over half the world’s population lives in cities. By 2050, that figure will be closer to 70%. Improving the sustainability of urban areas is vital to the wellbeing of our world. We must reimagine our cities and embrace new technologies to make urban life more resilient, vibrant, and equitable for all.

Today, at the Sustainable Innovation Forum panel “Smarter, Cleaner Cities for the Future,” we joined Kristen Siemen, chief sustainability officer of General Motors, and Rogier van den Berg, who leads the World Resources Institute’s sustainable urban development work, for a discussion on the sustainable future of cities and mobility. (Watch the video below.)

Achievable sustainability was the theme of two other panel conversations hosted by the University of Pennsylvania and Heidelberg Materials. Achievability requires affordability, and at Gensler, we are designing resilience into everything we do. Our industry must continue to push the pace of innovation to deliver affordable solutions for today’s challenges, and governments must incentivize the repurposing and repositioning of existing building stock. Calgary, Alberta, offers a case study for successful collaboration between government and industry. The Calgary Downtown Development Incentive Program provided grants to help convert vacant offices into residential buildings, adding much-needed housing to the city while also taking the sustainable path of adaptive reuse.

We also spoke with journalists from Reuters Projects, Khaleej Times, and MEED.

The value of the public and private sectors coming together to advance climate solutions cannot be overstated, and gatherings like COP28 are essential for coalescing key stakeholders. Everyone has a role to play, and the real estate and building industry in particular has a tremendous opportunity to take leadership, today.

Explore all of our events and representatives attending COP28.

Follow our co-CEOs on the ground in Dubai for more updates. Follow Andy Cohen here and Diane Hoskins here.

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Andy Cohen
Andy is global co-chair of Gensler, the world’s most influential architecture and design firm. He served as co-CEO from 2005 to 2024 and has spent his entire 43-year career at Gensler. Cohen is a frequent speaker for premier industry groups, including the United Nations Climate Change Conference, the Urban Land Institute, the Young Presidents Organization, the Milken Institute Global Conference, the Pension Real Estate Association, and more. His insights have appeared in Bloomberg, Fortune, Forbes, Fast Company, Quartz, Curbed, and many other general interest and trade publications. Cohen is a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects and a graduate of the Pratt Institute.
Diane Hoskins
Diane is global co-chair of Gensler, the world’s most influential architecture and design firm. She served as co-CEO from 2005 to 2024. Hoskins is the 2023-2025 Global Chair of the Urban Land Institute and was a featured speaker at the United Nation’s Habitat Assembly in Nairobi (2023) and Climate Action Summit in New York (2019). She has also spoken at the UN Climate Change Conference for three consecutive years. Her insights have appeared in the Wall Street Journal, the Harvard Business Review, CNN, Forbes, Fast Company, NPR, and elsewhere. A Fellow of the American Institute of Architects, Hoskins graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and holds an MBA from the UCLA Anderson School of Management.