23 July 2020

Four infrastructure trends that will shape our future

23 July 2020

The world is changing, and collectively we are underprepared for many of the challenges ahead. The Global Infrastructure Hub’s (GI Hub) vision for the ideal future is a world where sustainable, resilient and inclusive infrastructure works for all people; this will not only achieve positive social and environmental outcomes but also has the potential to deliver long-term economic outcomes compared with the status quo.

Our Infrastructure Futures Report outlines where we need to start. We surveyed more than 400 practitioners across 70 countries to gather the global sentiment across 25 megatrends. These trends are shown in the chart below, which plots the average scores for all 25 megatrends according to level of preparedness and level of impact across both mature and emerging economies.  

The highest risk trends (i.e. low preparedness / high impact) are those located on the bottom right corner of the chart. As can be seen, there is a consistency in the responses across mature and emerging markets in terms of the trends that present the highest risk to industry and these are:

  • The rise of climate change
  • The rise of natural disasters and resilient infrastructure
  • Ageing infrastructure
  • Urbanisation and population growth.

Two technology trends (in yellow) were also identified as having the biggest impact on industry – that of green energy sources and Internet of Things, sensors and smart infrastructure.

While these results are not hugely surprising, the COVID-19 crisis has placed a unique spin on these trends by accelerating their emergence in light of significant fiscal constraints.

 To achieve this ideal future, a transformation is needed in how the industry invests, designs and delivers infrastructure projects.

This means that we need to link quality infrastructure to economic, social and environmental impact, enable the financing and funding of these infrastructure projects and ‘do more with less’ using data and technology.

Our recent webinar, hosted with the World Economic Forum (WEF), shared insights from a global panel of experts on the challenges to achieving transformation and some potential solutions to consider in these areas.

Watch the recordings below for insights on the global industry sentiment across 25 infrastructure megatrends, explore the Infrastructure Futures Report's three extreme, yet plausible, scenarios for the future, and hear from our panel of experts.

  • Alternative futures and foresighting (6:30 mins): What type of future do you think we are moving towards? What are the implications of this future? What steps do we need to take to become more prepared for the future?
    Kristel van der Elst, Co-Founder and CEO of The Global Foresight Group (also the Director General of Policy Horizons Canada)

  • Inclusive infrastructure impacts (8:20 mins): What impacts have you seen from inclusive infrastructure? What policies or project approaches have really helped to drive impact? What role can non-government stakeholders play in accelerating the inclusive infrastructure agenda?
    Sue Barrett, Director, Head of Infrastructure for Turkey, Middle East & Africa, at the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development 

  • Data and digital transformation (6:20 mins): What role can data play in achieving the ideal future? What are some of the barriers to achieving this objective and how do we overcome them?
    Melissa Zanocco, Head of Programmes for the Infrastructure Client Group and the Digital Transformation Task Group

  • The future workforce (8:30 mins): What will the future workforce in infrastructure look like across the infra value chain? What impact will this have on the economy and society? What are the challenges and how might we overcome them?
    Anil Sawhney, Director of the Infrastructure Sector, Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors 

You can watch the full webinar recording here and read the Infrastructure Futures Report here.

We will be publishing a series of Infrastructure Future blogs in partnership with our panelists to deep dive into these trends so watch this space.

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