The past year has been one of profound change for our profession. The world has been adapting in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and chartered surveyors have been playing a critical role, responding to the challenges impacting our industry and wider society. This work has not simply been about short-term recovery but using this year as an opportunity to build back better in the longer term.
For more than 150 years, RICS has been supporting the profession as it sought to address the major challenges of its time. To remain relevant into the future and ensure we can continue this role, RICS needs to continue to change, building on this historic legacy. At this critical time for our profession, when climate change requires an urgent response and technology is transforming the way we work, RICS must be resilient and future focused.
Our priority must be to respond to the Levitt Review and act upon its recommendations. This includes a wide-ranging independent examination of purpose, governance and strategy. As President, I recognise that we must reflect on this report – alongside the feedback received as part of the Defining our Future consultation earlier this year – and work with members to move forward positively.
Governing Council has unanimously accepted all recommendations within the independent review in full, and we have resolved to implement them as quickly as possible, openly and transparently.
Governing Council has also committed to holding itself accountable for the delivery of change. This includes an external review of the purpose, governance and strategy of RICS to ensure it is fit for purpose. RICS will continue delivering standards and regulatory functions, provision of training, CPD, thought leadership and member engagement to provide professional development and market insights that enable members to excel in their work and deliver with confidence.
I know everyone within RICS is committed to creating positive change for the profession, and all of us are working towards the same goal: a better built environment for future generations and an inclusive global profession where everyone can thrive. In the coming year, the Presidential Team will be strong advocates, working to promote the role of the profession across three key areas:
Given the built environment accounts for 40% of the world’s global greenhouse gas emissions, we simply cannot meet our targets for net zero by 2050 without taking action. RICS members already play a pivotal role in addressing the challenges of climate change – by pioneering sustainable practices and providing the data to drive decarbonisation across the whole lifecycle of the built environment.
But in the years to come, this role will accelerate. We can only meet our climate targets if we can accurately measure progress towards them. As we start to plan the pathways to meeting high level sustainable targets, measurement will become increasingly critical. In our recent Annual Sustainability Survey, more than half of respondents stated they currently make no measurement of embodied carbon emissions in their projects. The third version of the International Cost Management Standard (ICMS3) will be launching in November, and this represents the first globally consistent method for carbon life cycle reporting across construction projects.
RICS has an ambitious programme of work planned for COP26, and the sustainability space more broadly. From launching ICMS3 and the Built Environment Carbon Database, to shaping government regulations around the world, RICS and its members will be essential in enabling the net zero transition.
Technology is already transforming the built environment. In the next few years, we are likely to see technologies like digital twins become more mainstream, allowing operators to optimise their buildings and policymakers to develop more sophisticated urban planning tools. The growth of 5G will allow access to bigger datasets and new automation opportunities. RICS will support responsible digitisation, ensuring the profession remains relevant into the future.
We are currently consulting on a new standard, the International Building Operation Standard (IBOS), which recognises technology and sustainability concerns are impacting the ways we value buildings. IBOS will support building owners to develop a holistic approach to building management, recognising that high quality user experience is a key benefit of technological advancements.
To solve the world’s biggest challenges, we will need the world’s brightest talents. We will continue our efforts to build an inclusive global profession where everyone can thrive. In the coming months, we will be launching the first RICS Global Diversity and Inclusion Strategy to ensure our profession can reflect the needs and experiences of the diverse societies we serve. This is the only way we will successfully address the challenges we face in the built and natural environment, which are becoming ever more complex, global and interconnected.
In the year ahead, I look forward to meeting as many members as possible and hearing your views. I am confident that together we can build a stronger institution: one which is more resilient and ready to face the challenges of tomorrow.