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In times of uncertainty, how do we move long-term goals forward?

25 October 2022

Jonathan Spruce, chair of the Policy and External Affairs Committee, provides a summary of its latest meeting.

In times of uncertainty, how do we move long-term goals forward?
While there have been a lot of changes, many infrastructure challenges remain the same.

The Policy and External Affairs Committee is involved in overseeing, directing and evaluating the ICE’s policy and external affairs activities.

This inevitably means staying up to date with the external events that influence the work of the committee.

A changing external environment

As we convened for our most recent meeting in the middle of October, we reflected just how much had changed since our last meeting in July. There’s been a new prime minister (and another one to come), a new monarch, and a significantly different economic position.

Yet, it was also clear that many of the challenges facing the industry and our infrastructure system remained unchanged.

When considering our forward policy and research programme, the committee re-affirmed three priority areas of activity:

  • Financing and funding net zero
  • Infrastructure system climate resilience
  • Accelerating the delivery of the Integrated Rail Plan

Within each, the committee discussed the most recent activity undertaken and the immediate plans for each.

What the ICE has been up to

For example, we heard about the recent Presidential Roundtable on the UK’s Net Zero Strategy one year on. This event brought together a group of experts to discuss whether current approaches will deliver on the ambitions outlined in the strategy.

We also heard about the plans for the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Infrastructure (APPGI) and ICE report on a delivery programme for the Integrated Rail Plan, which was launched on 19 October.

The committee had a ‘deep dive’ discussion into the proposed programme examining infrastructure systems’ climate resilience.

This will help inform the ICE’s climate-adaptive infrastructure research programme, which will be a key part of our activity in 2023.

An increasing international focus

The committee also heard initial feedback from recent engagement with international organisations, such as Infrastructure Partnerships Australia, Global Infrastructure Hub, Infrastructure Australia and Engineers Australia.

Increasing international relationships is a key part of the ICE plan, and it was interesting to see that many of the issues facing the industry in the UK are actually global in nature.

This engagement will ultimately help strengthen the ICE’s Enabling Better Infrastructure (EBI) programme.

The EBI programme supports national policymakers by designing guidance and providing shared insight to support the prioritisation and planning of infrastructure to meet sustainable development targets.

Policy fellows

Finally, the committee heard an update on the policy fellows network.

Policy fellows are appointed to provide day-to-day expert assurance for ICE policy and external activities, and are an invaluable source of support to the committee.

I would urge any ICE fellow with the experience and attributes that we need to join the network – more details can be found by contacting [email protected].

The next meeting of the committee will be in January 2023 – how many other major changes may there have been by then?

In case you missed it

  • Jonathan Spruce, director at Fore Consulting