The ICSI Summit 2022: convening critical players for transformative change in infrastructure

On 28 June we held the ICSI Summit 2022, a virtual event hosted by the Institution of Civil Engineers. Marking a milestone on the road to COP27, the ICSI Summit brought the engineering community together with city leaders, investors, the private sector, and civil society.

In a series of talks, panels and Q&A sessions, we considered ways to drive the transformative change needed to deliver people-centred, sustainable, and resilient infrastructure that is fit for people and planet.

We heard from international experts on topics such as the need to elevate climate resilience and adaptation, the new and upcoming guidance and standards for sustainable and resilient infrastructure available to practitioners, the transformation and innovations in engineering delivery, and the urgency around unlocking innovative financial mechanisms. These topics, each as important as the next, and which, when acted on simultaneously and with open and deep collaboration, can collectively lead to systemic transformation of the infrastructure sector as we know it.

Keynote addresses call for action, inclusion and collaboration

Richard Threlfall, Global Head at KPMG IMPACT and ICSI Chair, opened the summit by urging the engineering community to take accountability for the development and implementation of infrastructure that truly supports sustainable development. He called on attendees to prioritize a collaborative, cross-sector approach to the sharing of information, data, and expertise for coordinated benefits.

We were fortunate to have Ellen Lindsay Awuku as a keynote speaker for the event. Ellen is a Youth Development Advocate based in Ghana, with a special interest in Environment, Youth Civic Participation and Youth Empowerment.  She called on young people to actively engage stakeholders and policymakers at local, national and global levels to increase awareness of climate action. Ellen urged the audience to support youth-led initiatives on climate action and to ensure an inclusive and environmentally just approach that prioritises people from marginalised and underserved communities. Ellen highlighted the need to increase climate financing and investment in renewable energy and nature-based solutions, and called on the engineering community to champion the cause of incorporating climate change issues in future infrastructural development policy.

Nigel Topping, UN Climate Change High-Level Champion at COP26, also addressed the summit and spoke on the importance of deep collaboration, breaking down organisational silos and joining hands in pursuit of a common goal. Nigel highlighted the need for urgent action to ensure that vulnerable communities have the resources and capabilities to adapt to a changing climate and to cope with imminent climate impacts. He praised ICSI for mobilizing the engineering community and bringing together critical players such as cities, infrastructure owners and the private sector to act on climate change under a collective vision.

In addition to Nigel’s contribution, the summit was supported by other members of the Climate Champions Team including Youth Fellows Shravani Sharma and Lamia Mohsin. In short video clips between sessions, they shared their perspectives on some of the key issues explored today.

Session summaries

Session 1 saw a conversation between Gregor Robertson of the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate & Energy and Manuel Valdés Lopez from Barcelona City Council on transforming urban infrastructure from a policymakers’ perspective. They touched on themes of inclusivity, community participation and embedding climate adaptation at a policy level. Watch Session 1 here.

Session 2 explored how guidance and standards should adapt to drive the transformative change needed to implement sustainable and climate-resilient infrastructure, and embed them in the early stages of the infrastructure lifecycle. It also explored the role of knowledge sharing and capacity building in rolling out guidance and standards. Watch Session 2 here.

Session 3 focussed on transformations and innovations in engineering delivery of infrastructure. Panellists discussed the need to foster and create ecosystems of innovation within the engineering community, made up of a wide range of actors from across the value chain. This will allow the sector to build towards quality, fast paced, and replicable innovations that will develop the necessary projects to achieve the UN SDGs and address the growing demand for climate-resilient infrastructure. Watch Session 3 here.

Session 4 made the business case for just, sustainable, and resilient infrastructure. Panellists proposed solutions to address the global infrastructure investment gap, including directing funding towards sustainable and resilient urban infrastructure, national, regional, sub-national and local government, multinational financing institutions, private sector developers and the engineering community. Watch Session 4 here.

During the summit we also had the opportunity to introduce ICSI’s plans and priorities for raising the voice of the engineering community and mobilizing critical players to act on climate change, sustainability, and resilience. Read more about our 2022-24 Strategic Plan.

Continuing the conversation

Thank you to all those who attended the summit, which marks the beginning of a new and exciting direction for ICSI. We hope that it can be a catalyst to foster meaningful relationships with new friends, partners and collaborators. We’d love to keep the conversation going and encourage you to get involved in ICSI’s activities. Here are some ways to get involved:

Join our Race to Resilience campaign:

ICSI is an official Partner Initiative of the High-Level Climate Champions Race to Resilience campaign, the sibling campaign of Race to Zero. ICSI is recruiting the engineering community to help frontline communities build resilience and adapt to impacts of climate change. Find out more here.

Keep an eye out for our upcoming projects:

ICE Brunel Series: With ICSI as co-host, the series will shine a spotlight on sustainable resilient infrastructure challenges around the world and showcase what members in the ICE Regions are doing to help address these.

Sendai Paper: ICSI will lead a global consultation and review of what the engineering community has achieved to date, where the gaps are and make recommendations for the coming decade, leading to a policy paper authored by ICSI. The consultation will be undertaken through a global survey and targeted convenings, and the policy paper will be delivered by September 2022, in time for presenting findings at COP27. This project will give engineers a voice on disaster risk and resilience in an influential global forum. It will also help define ICSI’s policy and advocacy positions and gaps to be addressed in the coming decade.

Get in touch

Get in touch if you have a project you’d like to chat about, want to offer your expertise to our activities, or just want to find out more about our work.

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