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Infrastructure blog

Why the ICE is the go-to expert in infrastructure policy

18 August 2023

How the ICE encourages governments to build a sustainable planet.

Why the ICE is the go-to expert in infrastructure policy
Making sure infrastructure delivers for society relies on governments making the right decisions. Image credit: Shutterstock

‘Infrastructure’ refers to the built structures that humans depend on to survive and thrive.

It’s our roads, rails, power networks, sewer systems, and more.

ICE members build, develop, and maintain infrastructure all over the world. And every part of this process is political.

What projects to fund? Who funds them? Who delivers them? Where, when, and how?

All these questions come down to a political decision.

As an international charity, the ICE works for the benefit of society.

And getting the right outcomes for society relies on governments making the right political decisions.

What the ICE policy programme does

The ICE policy and external affairs programme works to influence these decisions.

Infrastructure policymakers make thousands of choices each day.

We can’t influence them individually, but we can help shape discussions and frameworks at the strategic level to guide those decisions.

Simply put, this means encouraging governments to think about their long-term ambitions – decarbonisation, economic growth, resilience, social justice – and make decisions that support them.

We encourage governments to think about and approach policy differently to tilt the balance and help them deliver the infrastructure that societies need.

See how the ICE’s Enabling Better Infrastructure programme is helping governments around the world plan and prioritise the right infrastructure solutions.

How we do it

Working with governments and organisations locally, nationally, and internationally – usually one-on-one, and often behind the scenes – the ICE:

  • Assures by sense-checking policy ideas.
  • Advises decision-makers on how to develop and advance policy.
  • Reminds them of up-to-date knowledge and best practice from the infrastructure policymaking world.
  • Reinforces where things are working, encouraging decision-makers to stay the course.

Achieving this revolves around three primary activities:

  • Building networks: the ICE’s convening power as a major institution allows us to get insight from senior and influential figures in engineering and policy, as well as tap into the expertise of our membership.
  • Answering questions: we use the insight we get to propose infrastructure solutions to major political challenges. Outputs include position statements, consultation responses, and policy briefings.
  • Reinforcing insight: our ongoing programmes of work and political research ensure our recommendations stay relevant and continue to reach the right people.

The public benefit – the reason the ICE exists – is central to this work.

The Sustainable Development Goals help focus our work by linking it to sustainable outcomes.

How this work benefits ICE members

ICE members are professionals who know infrastructure could achieve more for people and the planet.

For over 200 years, they’ve come together to develop leading rules, tools, and guidance so that every civil engineer, wherever they are in the world, can deliver their best for the public.

But too often, that ambition bumps up against the policy frameworks that define the infrastructure agenda.

Designing and implementing infrastructure policy is a uniquely complex task.

We convene, inform, and advocate through a variety of means to ensure policy and decision-makers have access to world-class, workable, and proven infrastructure policy ideas.

This work better places civil engineers to develop infrastructure that achieves sustainable outcomes for people and the planet.

Our work

Policy research

Ahead of the 2024 UK general election, we’ve kickstarted a project to define ‘day-one’ infrastructure priorities for the next parliament.

Major policy papers have focused on climate resilience and transport planning in the UK.

We’ve published an insights paper on fixing the UK’s sewage overflow problem and explored long-term water sector reform.

We’ve updated our Enabling Better Infrastructure guidance for governments, with input from stakeholders around the world.


We bring together experts from around the world to support policy makers with insight on topics such as net-zero progress in Australia, global best practice in managing infrastructure delivery costs, and the value of a National Transport Strategy for England.

We help UK parliamentarians understand key infrastructure issues through the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Infrastructure (APPGI), hosting the Chancellor of the Exchequer and other senior infrastructure policymakers such as the National Infrastructure Commission.

And we host discussions exploring how policy tools, such as our Enabling Better Infrastructure guidance, have made a real difference when adopted by governments.


With the support of the ICE’s communications team, we’ve raised awareness of infrastructure policy issues among governments, industry, and the public:

  • ICE policy experts have spoken to outlets including Channel 4, iNews, and the Economist to shape national coverage of infrastructure matters.
  • We’ve positioned experts to comment on breaking news for channels including the BBC, Business Live, and Railway Gazette International.
  • The ICE has contributed to radio shows for the BBC and LBC.
  • We’ve provided opinion and thought leadership pieces for the Belfast Telegraph, Irish News, PBC Today, Construction News, and others.

All this has reached a combined global audience of 126 million.

This work is positioning the ICE as the go-to experts on infrastructure matters, and journalists are increasingly approaching us directly for comments.

What’s coming next?

The ICE policy team’s next big project will focus on the missing piece of the ‘net zero’ puzzle – public engagement.

A future consultation and policy paper programme will show that net zero is an opportunity, not a problem, and challenge the government to bring people with them on the journey.

We’ll also explore infrastructure delivery and productivity in Australia – what's governments have tried, what's they've achieved, and how they could be reinforcing success.

And we'll continue to engage industry experts, decision-makers, and the public on decarbonisation, resilience, transport, clean energy, and more.

Get involved in the ICE’s policy work

If you want to get involved in any of our policy initiatives or suggest future activity, we want to hear from you.

Please also get in touch if you have other ideas on how we can better engage and inform our members in our policy work. Would you be interested in regular ICE policy webinars, for example?

If you’re an ICE Fellow, consider joining the ICE Policy Fellows network. This growing cohort of senior industry voices provides invaluable advice and insight that make our policy work possible.

We’re also happy to answer any questions you have. Get in touch with us at [email protected].

Keep up to date with the ICE’s policy work. Subscribe to ICE Informs for a monthly digest of our latest policy activities.

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