Investment: ‘Future of Infrastructure’ in The Times

New writing… Pleased to say I have had another article published in The Times newspaper, as part of a special Raconteur report on the Future of Infrastructure.

The piece explores how rising interest in responsible investment, which considers environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors , has transformed the conversation in the infrastructure sector. For major projects seeking funding it pays to get ESG right – in fact, getting it wrong can prove highly problematic, maybe even fatal.  Whilst the importance of the new criteria might be clear in principle, the issue for infrastructure is understanding what actually constitutes ESG in practice. Positive engagement with the issues calls for more than just a box-ticking exercise, if values are to be truly aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). To read the article in full, complete with expert insights, comment and analysis, please click the following link:

‘Infrastructure investors making ESG a priority’.

The full 16-page Future of Infastructure report is available to view/download here.

Intangibles and an ‘Internet of Assets’

New writing... Pleased to say I had another piece published in The Times newspaper this month, as part of a special report on Asset Management, by Raconteur. It looks at how the rise of non-physical assets in the form of  intangibles, plus ongoing digital transformation leading to emergence of an ‘internet of assets’ can both help an embattled asset manager get their voice heard by the C-Suite:

‘How to manage “internet of assets”‘.

The full 16-page Asset Management report is available to view/download here.

A New Climate for Sustainable Investment

New writing… My latest piece for Real Views is now live, looking at how attitudes towards sustainability metrics have changed amongst the global investment community.

Clean and green energy is clearly becoming increasingly attractive to investors and fund managers as they decarbonise and derisk their portfolios, from stocks and shares, to assets and acquisitions. As a result, new resilience and responsibility metrics can now be seen influencing corporate clients, as well as real estate deals and development.

This brief ‘listicle’ identifies 5 key drivers behind these recent and ongoing shifts in perception, principle and practice that are impacting markets worldwide and together helping create ‘A new climate for sustainable investment’.

Clean and Green: The Energy of Choice

unnamedNew writing… My piece for Real Views is now live, looking at why the business case for clean and green energy is making more and more sense for corporate-investor and real-estate portfolios alike, plus how tech is leading the way. As renewables break all records worldwide for generation, the article touches upon the push-and-pull of post-Paris politics and how sustainability plays out in a talent market of Millennials. With links, stats and studies, read what makes ‘Clean and green: The energy of choice’.

Community Resilience: From Sandy to Sustainability

A version of this article first appeared on the Sustainability Talk & News website, published 18 December, 2012.

Another PlaceAt every level, Hurricane Sandy represents a wake-up call for the sleeping giant of community resilience that is the built-environment sector. It is time for Construction to engage both with the (inter)national debate on climate-change risk and global-warming impacts, plus local discussions about resource mobilisation, security provision and preparedness.

In order for Construction to be cast a lead rôle in climate-change adaptation, it must be able to see both the Big Picture and the Local View: The Big Picture provides the backdrop to the global stage on which nation states perform, populated by protagonists in politics and pressure groups; the Local View is characterised by community scenes, where dialogue is more about resilience and resource.

At the macro level, the business community is becoming increasingly concerned about climate risk and the urgent need to be proactive. Ahead of the UN COP18 talks in Doha, over 200 of the largest investment fund managers and institutions – with more than £13tn in assets and including the likes of Scottish Widows, Aviva and HSBC – issued an open letter to the UK government and other administrations, advocating an escalation in action on climate change. Take heed: These signatories petitioning are establishment and mainstream money men and women, not greens, or alternative-energy geeks.

With The City worried and vocal, the onus is on leading market sectors such as Construction to listen and respond, not least because much of the investment involved carries core-business implications for the built environment: Infrastructure, property and climate defences are the physical building blocks of the (re)insurance industry assets and liabilities, portfolio and policies. In short, Construction is in the climate business, whether it likes it or not.

Zooming in to focus on the Local View, the Strategic National Framework on Community Resilience for the UK outlines how public, private and third sector organisations, plus individuals, might work together with responders and service providers in the event of an emergency, such as Sandy. Part of the Big Society commitment, the programme seeks to promote confidence and preparedness at community level, creating a degree of embedded self-sufficiency, security and, ultimately, sustainability. The framework provides direct assistance in the form of Emergency Plans and Toolkits, plus a library of illustrative case studies tackling scenarios ranging from flu pandemics to snow clearing. Of paramount importance is the pooling of knowledge and resources to enable swift effective response.

Here again, there can be seen a clear opportunity for Construction to engage and, arguably, an obligation to do so. The industry boasts a unique and highly valuable bank of relevant knowledge and resource ideally suited to localised emergency response: Plant and equipment, from caterpillar-track off-roaders to high-vis safetywear; raw or manufactured materials, from walling and piping, to boards and sand; plus human resource with appropriate skills and trades. Whilst perhaps no flashing blue light is expected atop every white van, the sector fit is perfect for the part of the fourth emergency service.

Maybe the moment has finally come, therefore, for the industry to get up on its hind legs and demand the attention it craves by engaging actively in the debates around climate change in general and resilience planning in particular. Historically, Construction has been proud to quote the statistics for its significant contribution to GDP (even when markets are tough), but often bemoans the perceived lack of recognition and appreciation for its efforts. Today, with influence to be won, if the sector has a mind to move the agenda forward, it certainly has the muscle.

Now is the time for Construction to play its true part in the communities it serves: Stand up; speak up. An audience awaits…

Author: Jim McClelland