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IPW: 7 international trends shaping infrastructure in 2022

01 February 2022

In this fortnightly blog, ICE's Director of Policy Chris Richards looks at developing policy landscape for infrastructure, what decisions mean, and their implications, so that infrastructure professionals can play their part in shaping the discussion.

IPW: 7 international trends shaping infrastructure in 2022
The pandemic has shifted how people want to live, work, and play, driving increased prioritisation for multipurpose infrastructure. Image credit: The Blowup/Unsplash

Global report highlights 7 trends that will shape infrastructure development in 2022

KPMG International's annual trends report highlights that the "infrastructure decisions we make this year will set the stage for how the world will evolve over the next century." It highlights four things that are needed to navigate the current period of uncertainty: insight, agility, collaboration and bravery.

The seven trends to look out for, according to the report, are:

  1. Moving from talk to action to address climate crisis.

    With organisations shouldering responsibility and moving from words to deeds.

  2. Building long-term in a short-term world.

    Big debates are raging, making it difficult to know what society will want in the next few days, decades or years.

  3. Maintaining control while encouraging agility.

    Expect a regulatory and governance shift towards a focus on value.

  4. Making digital real.

    The digital shifts driven by the pandemic will become embedded.

  5. Supply infrastructure, supply the world.

    Supply chain fragility and resource constraints will impact infrastructure delivery. But the second effect is new infrastructure being built to improve supply chain resilience.

  6. Towards a new 'livable'.

    The pandemic has shifted how people want to live, work, and play, driving increased prioritisation for multipurpose infrastructure.

  7. Paying for it all.

    Greater alignment between users as payers will need to be found to deliver sizeable new infrastructure programmes.

ICE’s view

The report rightly reinforces the need for collaboration. This theme came up at our recent roundtable with Infrastructure Australia, which explored approaches to improving infrastructure programmes' deliverability.

The report itself paints a good picture of the level of uncertainty inherent in designing and delivering infrastructure system interventions for a post-pandemic world while reinforcing the need for a decision to be made.

Through our work, ICE engages with policymakers to accelerate the transfer of insight from lessons learned around the world.

UK government publishes assessment of the risks facing the UK from climate change

The Climate Change Risk Assessment is based on the evidence and advice published in the Climate Change Committee’s Independent Assessment of UK Climate Risk, published in June 2021.

The report outlines several risks which require urgent action in the next two years, including the following:

  • Risks to people and the economy from a climate-related failure of the power system.
  • Risks to soil health from increased flooding and drought.
  • Risks to natural carbon stores and sequestration from multiple hazards, leading to increased emissions.
  • Risks to supply of food, goods and vital services due to climate-related collapse of supply chains and distribution networks.
  • Risks to human health, wellbeing and productivity from increased exposure to heat in homes and other buildings.

ICE’s view

The UK Government’s Climate Change Risk Assessment is a good start. But agreeing on the risks is one thing – taking action to address them is another.

As we set out in our paper on what should be in the UK’s second National Infrastructure Assessment, most infrastructure that will support the UK’s long-term goals already exist. But with large parts of this infrastructure dating back years, there is a growing risk of failure as they are put under additional pressures due to the impacts of climate change.

To address this, we first must better understand the current condition of assets, the maintenance measures needed to improve them and their resilience, as well as the impacts of new infrastructure on these existing systems.

We now look to the UK Government’s action plan outlining how it will address these risks.

In case you missed it...

Check back in a fortnight for the next edition of the ICE's Infrastructure Policy Watch. You can also sign up to ICE Informs to get a monthly digest of the latest policy activities from ICE, including calls for evidence to support our ongoing advice to policymakers.

  • Chris Richards, director of policy at Institution of Civil Engineers