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Infrastructure blog

Policy and External Affairs update: being heard in the right places

25 April 2023

Talk focused on engagement and governance at the latest Policy and External Affairs Committee meeting, reports ICE Trustee Jonathan Spruce.

Policy and External Affairs update: being heard in the right places
There’s a clear awareness of the ICE within UK Parliament, which is a testament to the work of the policy team.

The Policy and External Affairs Committee (PEAC) takes its role seriously.

We develop and review our forward programmes to complement the ICE Plan agreed by trustees. But every so often, it’s good to reflect on how effective the committee is at communicating with ICE members and the people we seek to influence.

The first part of our April 2023 meeting focused on just those issues, considering specific questions we’re asking in the upcoming member survey:

  • What policy activities do members want to know about and why?
  • What will they do with this information?
  • How would they like to receive it?

This will give us a basis on which to develop future activity. The aim is to use our upcoming October meeting for a deep dive into the results, so watch this space.

On the parliamentary radar

The committee also saw the results of research into parliamentary awareness of the ICE’s work, based on a survey of UK MPs and peers undertaken in summer 2022.

It’s pleasing to note that there’s a clear awareness of the ICE within Parliament, which is a testament to the work of the policy team.

Most MPs and peers questioned were aware of the ICE. When it comes to overall awareness, the ICE ranked higher than any other similar organisation.

Clear targets for future engagement

On the other hand, very few parliamentarians mentioned the ICE when asked to associate organisations with key policy topics, ‘decarbonising infrastructure’ and ‘long-term strategic infrastructure planning’.

These results provide a clear target for future engagement activity as we head towards a general election, likely in the latter half of 2024.

Enabling Better Infrastructure

Much of the rest of the April meeting sought PEAC’s input on the Enabling Better Infrastructure (EBI) programme – specifically on which stakeholders to target through ongoing outreach and network development.

The EBI programme aims to strengthen the governance of strategic infrastructure planning worldwide by establishing structured dialogues between ICE networks and governments.

These dialogues will build understanding of political and policy processes and act as a sounding board to support governance reform.

PEAC members were keen to focus on examples of EBI adoption making a positive difference, allowing the ICE to update the core EBI principles in a practical and effective way.

There was also encouragement to engage more with the devolved administrations within England, as the newer devolution deals may allow EBI principles to be adopted at a programme level.

Next meeting

The committee’s next meeting will be in July 2023, when we’ll examine how we can improve gender diversity across the ICE’s policy and external affairs activities.

Our policy work seeks to maximise the use of infrastructure systems to support sustainable outcomes for people and the planet.

Find out more
  • Jonathan Spruce, director at Fore Consulting