Last edited 17 Aug 2020

Covid-19 and the new normal for infrastructure systems - next steps

ICE whitepaper.jpg

A report from the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) and the Infrastructure Client Group (ICG), published on 13 August 2020, has highlighted that any infrastructure-led recovery from Covid-19 will require a long-term, green strategy focused around investment in fibre, 5G, cycling and walking.

Following a comprehensive consultation with infrastructure professionals, launched in May, the ‘Covid-19 and the new normal for infrastructure systems – next stepswhite paper recommends a series of steps to maximise the value of infrastructure investment and ensure challenges such as de-carbonisation, regional inequalities and economy-wide productivity are tackled.

Population growth, the 2050 net-zero emissions target and the UN Sustainable Development Goals also feature prominently as key issues.

The report concludes that to deliver these interventions better, faster and greener will require better alignment of construction initiatives, with four key enablers highlighted within the recommendations to support this shift towards more strategic reinvention in how infrastructure is delivered:

Paul Sheffield, ICE President, said: “Thanks to the strong response to our call for evidence, we’ve been able to highlight an expectation that there will be no drastic shift as a result of Covid-19. Instead it has merely shone a light on priorities we have always known about; regional inequalities, the pressing challenge of de-carbonisation and the need to improve productivity particularly through digital adoption.

“There are real opportunities to become more intelligent and outcomes-focused in how we deliver infrastructure, in order to unlock better value for money and reduce carbon. We will be driving forward the four strategic enablers identified by this work to capitalise on the unique opportunity to reshape how infrastructure is delivered in the public's name.”

Due to the major rise in homeworking and subsequent reductions in public transport usage, a focus on accelerating the roll-out of both full-fibre and 5G communications infrastructure, as well as greater active travel provision for cycling and walking, were also recommended.

The report was carried out by the Institution on behalf of the ICG and saw around 100 organisations and stakeholders respond to the call for submissions.

Nirmal Kotecha, Chair of the Infrastructure Client Group Management Board, said: “It was imperative we conduct this project, to ensure we start off on the correct footing as we plan the recovery. As infrastructure owners and operators, we have a duty to ensure the infrastructure system is managed and developed with clear societal outcomes in mind. These recommendations provide a framework to ensure that happens in a way that is focused, aligned across supply chains and strategic in the end goal.”

Recommendations outlined in the paper will be taken forward by the ICG and ICE through their relevant workstreams, with action on delivery primarily being driven through the Construction Leadership Council’s Infrastructure Working Group, which will be Chaired by Paul Sheffield.

You can download the White Paper at: https://www.ice.org.uk/news-and-insight/policy/covid-and-new-normal-for-infrastructure-systems


This article was originally published on the ICE website on 13 August 2020. It was written by Matthew Rogerson.

--Institution of Civil Engineers

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