The 2018 conference focused on the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and how we could deliver them in the United Kingdom. The key message that came out of the conference was that the time to act is NOW. This is surely reinforced by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) 2018 report about the need to keep global warming below 1.5 degrees Centigrade? So the 2019 conference is focusing on action and how our industry can influence the resilience, sustainability and quality of homes, buildings, infrastructure and cities.
The SDGs provide a vision for a sustainable future, but we need to connect the Goals with delivery and measurable outcomes, both in the UK and as contributors to delivering the Goals overseas. The shocking events at Grenfell Tower have shamed the whole construction industry and should change the way in which the industry operates – starting with the rebuilding of public faith and confidence. The government has made international commitments and has also proposed a range of strategies for the UK. These include the Industrial Strategy with its 4 Grand Challenges, one of which is clean growth, as set out in the Clean Growth Strategy with its sister document, the 25 Year Environment Plan, and the financial mechanism with the Construction Sector Deal. What is the industry’s vision for turning aspirations into reality? Brexit sets a further challenge and the outcome is, as yet, unknown. How can independent watchdogs have sufficient power to monitor the government and call it to account?
We know the challenges, so what are our responses? What are our action plans? How can we inspire, empower and equip all those working in the built environment to share and deliver a vision for a sustainable future? Is it time to think the unthinkable in order to act now with common purpose?