As the inaugural Global Leadership Forum Summit approaches, we asked FIDIC CEO Dr Nelson Ogunshakin (NO) about the significant industry response to the biggest challenges the world faces.
IG: Last year you announced you would bring global infrastructure leaders together to set a strategic direction on international challenges. That summit takes place in Geneva next week, So, how big is this step for the sector.
NO: “This is the first summit of its kind for global infrastructure, and I have been overwhelmed at the determination of the industry to make it happen. We have been approached by leaders across the whole infrastructure ecosystem seeking to collaborate on real solutions to generational challenges.
“Our Global Leadership Forum (GLF) has been supported by more than 100 global leaders in its first year – leaders from leading companies in finance, investors, multilateral development Banks (MDBs), technology, design, asset ownership and operators – along with major innovators and policy makers. This summit is the culmination 12 months’ work and I hope it will help shape the direction of travel for the industry for years to come.
“That is the most pleasing aspect for us at FIDIC as we organise the GLF summit 2023, collate the submitted papers and assess the research work undertaken and underway. The drive shown by industry leaders to grasp this opportunity and work together in a true collaborative approach to set clear direction in how we address the great challenges of our age is symbolic of just how important it is to act, not just talk.”
“outcomes will span digital, energy and circular economy transitions and decarbonisation of all types of infrastructure. They will also address interconnected issues like cyber security, economic outlook and international development”
Dr Nelson Ogunshakin OBE
IG: You mention the great challenges of our time and you announced this summit in the wake of COP27 calling for “delivery, delivery, delivery”. Is the climate issue galvanising collective approach?
NO: “Absolutely. Climate change is an existential crisis for humanity and the world is looking to infrastructure sector for solutions. Leaders joining this summit have been very up front with us as organisers though, that this isn’t a mere show of support for climate action. The summit must also generate real outcomes and address wider challenges that all influence how we work.
“To achieve that, we have commissioned groups of leaders and their teams to work together to present papers on what needs to happen next – papers that will facilitate debate over the two days of the summit and help arrive at clear outcomes.
“Those outcomes will span digital, circular economy, and energy transitions and decarbonisation of all types of infrastructure. The summit will also address other interconnected issues like cyber security, economic outlook and international development because it is only by acting as a whole infrastructure ecosystem that we can deliver for eight billion people around the world.”
IG: With such a bold ambition and with leaders coming from across the globe, how do you shape such a summit?
NO: “We were clear from the start that this would be the premier gathering of influential infrastructure industry leaders in 2023. Global leaders will hear from world-renowned experts and pioneers in the infrastructure industry who will provide valuable insights and share their experiences in a non-competitive environment.
“Those set to lead the discussions include Bertrand Piccard, the renowned explorer and innovator who has created a new platform for more than 1,000 new solutions to ease sustainability adoption. Andre Schneider, CEO of Geneva Airport, will set out the complexity to be addressed in the cyber-security of vulnerable assets and we will also hear from Chris Lewis, global head of infrastructure at EY, who will address the investment paths needed for net zero.
“But just as important as those who lead the discussions are the leaders who take part in them. CEOs, presidents, senior executives and other global leaders are not joining us to just listen. They are joining the summit to help inform each other about their experiences, successes and challenges. Those conversations will shape the summit outcomes that will in turn reshape the world into a more sustainable, prosperous and secure place.”
there is a collective and individual responsibility to take your part fully as we work together to tackle major challenges.
Dr Nelson Ogunshakin OBE
IG: The summit takes place from 27-28 April in Geneva. For those who want to engage, what would your advice be?
NO: “My advice to industry leaders and key stakeholders not already involved is to get in touch and join us but be prepared for some real work if you do.
“The Global Leadership Forum is a great opportunity for leaders to network and gain access to dedicated research. And that research is led and undertaken by members, so there is a collective and individual responsibility to take your part fully as we work together to tackle major challenges.
“The summit will be no different to that as we aim to arrive at some clear strategic objectives over the two days. So, you can register for an invitation from the forum, and if you do, we would ask that you please bring with you the insights and challenges that, in your experience, will help us arrive at the most valuable outcomes.
“Ultimately, we would like to make this and future GLF summits in Geneva the annual ‘go-to’ convening meeting destination for industry leaders, policy makers, financiers, investors, governments and asset owners to discuss and agree concrete actions to be taken to address the challenges facing the global infrastructure, built and natural environment industry.”