'Safe and sustainable space is not created by chance'

In her latest column, RICS President Ann Gray discusses inspirational stories from our profession, this year’s MIPIM in Cannes and Whole Life Carbon Assessment


  • Ann Gray FRICS

04 April 2023

Ann Gray leaning against a wall with arms folded looking at camera

Safe, sustainable and productive space is not created by chance. Nevertheless, the fact that the built environment is the fabric of our everyday existence means the professionals who make that space can often be taken for granted.

I see championing the contribution of RICS professionals and professionalism at large as core to RICS and my role as President. Building links with fellow professionals, both within and without RICS, is a vital step.

That said, I know our professional lives can be all-consuming, but I believe we can still draw strength from the collective story of our profession. By immersing ourselves in the long and varied history of our profession and its luminaries we can reconnect with the breadth of activity and depth of impact that our profession has made and continues to make on issues that matter to society.

Inspiring stories of women in the profession

Applying important lessons and being inspired by examples in the present can also help us push the boundaries of our work and re-imagine where we might take the story in the future. This is particularly true of the amazing women that have helped to shape that story.

In that vein, members may be interested in the perspective recently provided by Diane Dumashie FRICS, Lionheart Trustee and president of FIG. Diane spoke on Global Surveyors Day on 21 March of her pride in being a chartered surveyor, and the ongoing legacy of expertise and public service each professional generation bequeaths to the next. I would also like to highlight this fascinating article about Irene Barclay, the first woman chartered surveyor who went on to be recognised for her pioneering work with housing associations in the UK.

This latter story is particularly salient to the themes that came up across the many conversations that took place to mark Women’s History Month in March. This included a day-long programme to celebrate International Women’s Day, remarks from President Elect Tina Paillet FRICS, and a mentoring event at RICS HQ that I was delighted attend. I was inspired by the strides the women I met are making to change our sector for the better, with many still very early in their careers.


It was a pleasure to host a strong RICS presence at this year’s MIPIM gathering in Cannes. I enjoyed welcoming members at the RICS reception where we heard the latest on local members’ work and key policy developments in the region. Tina Paillet moderated a panel as part of the Road to Zero coalition, a thematic coalition of partners including RICS, focussing on decarbonisation, measurement standardisation and promoting biodiversity.

Susanne Eickermann-Riepe FRICS, chair of the Europe Regional Board, also assembled a fierce group of women for RICS’ first annual MIPIM Women’s Lunch. Although we only had a table this year, I am sure next year we will need a room.

In all these events throughout the week, I gained a sense of an extended professional family and truly felt the far-reaching impact of our industry on meeting the world’s social and sustainability goals. It was heartening to realise we are part of a broad-based collective of concerned professionals worldwide, putting all its energies into navigating the complex trade-offs involved in achieving Net Zero.

“I was inspired by the strides the women I met are making to change our sector for the better” Ann Gray FRICS, RICS President

Whole Life Carbon Assessment

One of the ways members can help address the Net Zero challenge is by feeding into the consultation on the second edition of the RICS Whole Life Carbon Assessment (WLCA) standard. This is a vital area of work, building on the achievements of the first edition, bringing visibility and transparency to the carbon impact of decisions at all stages of built environment projects. You can review the consultation materials here, with views welcomed until 18 April, and I encourage all members to share their insights and perspective.

Finally, a reminder that you can be part of the conversation on topics like this that are taking place every day on myRICS Community, and by checking in with your local board to see what events are taking place near you.

I hope you continue to build links and to benefit from the world of connection and opportunity that comes from being part of the unique professional network being a member of RICS affords.

International Women's Day event at RICS London HQ


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