My first visit to the UK as RICS President

‘Meeting so many passionate professionals who are committed to creating a more sustainable built environment was a highlight for me,’ says RICS President Clement Lau in his monthly column


  • Clement Lau

01 December 2021

As the calendar year draws to a close, it is normal for all of us to reflect on the past year and look ahead to the future year that is rapidly approaching.

It has been an absolute privilege for me to close out this year as President of RICS. For the last six weeks, I have been in the UK to represent RICS at some key events, and what an honour this has been. I thought I would use this month’s column to show some of the highlights and demonstrate the breadth of engagements on the presidential team’s calendar. 

First up was COP26 in Glasgow, where I was joined by Senior Vice-President Tina Paillet. We took a trip to the public Green Zone to join a roundtable session on commercial property. In the afternoon it was a great honour to meet some of our members in person to talk about the standards and tools we are developing to help embed sustainability in more of the work we do. We closed the day hosting colleagues from across the built environment at a CBI event, where John Kerry was the guest speaker. He spoke about the importance of the private sector in achieving net zero targets.

It was then across to Edinburgh to meet the first of the UK and Ireland Regional Boards before heading back to London for a series of stakeholder meetings and to pre-record my keynote speech for December’s Global Commercial Property Conference. It was a great pleasure to see Davina Goodchild, LionHeart’s CEO, in person for the first time in years. I have been a longstanding supporter of their work and look forward to serving as LionHeart’s Patron during my presidency. 

I visited the University College of Estate Management in Reading – where I once studied early in my career – to see the work they are doing to support the next generation of surveyors, attended the Women of the Future Awards to present the Real Estate, Construction and Infrastructure category and joined colleagues from around the world online at the Africa Future Summit to discuss the importance of Standards in promoting a prosperous built environment globally.

Richard Collins and I travelled to Belfast to meet with members, the Northern Ireland Regional Board, and other stakeholders. We visited several projects under way in the city focused on sustainability and heritage, including two impressive new projects at Ulster University and Queen's University Belfast. At Ulster, the university has committed £300m to create a new campus in the heart of Belfast City Centre, which will bring 15,000 students and faculty members into the city. Queen's University Belfast is investing in a new student centre and student union to improve the student experience.

Clement Lau headshot

“The Young Surveyor of the Year Awards was a highlight for me, meeting so many passionate professionals who are deeply committed to creating a more sustainable built environment”



President Clement Lau at COP26

The last week has been a flurry of Governing Council and more Regional Board meetings – sadly many of these had to take place virtually, but I very much hope to return to the UK next year and travel to more regions. Today, the RICS AGM will take place and I look forward to joining Members from around the world and hearing their views on the Institution’s future priorities before heading off to Wales to meet our Regional Board. I have one final, joyful occasion before I depart: attending the RICS and ICE Joint Carol Concert in Westminster Abbey. 

In my six weeks here in the UK, I have been so grateful for the hospitality that so many have shown me, and I would like to extend my thanks to all those who took the time to meet with me or share their thoughts on our profession. To those who I missed on this trip, I very much hope to see you in 2022. A Merry Christmas to all who celebrate it and a Happy New Year!   


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