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WBEF summit calls for common standards for ‘One Belt, One Road’ programme

Technology, innovation and shared professional standards are seen as central to building a sustainable future while achieving growth and integration

Shanghai was the location for the World Built Environment Forum
Shanghai was the location for the World Built Environment Forum

Common professional and technical standards are a prerequisite if China’s ‘One Belt, One Road’ (OBOR) initiative, which aims to improve its connectivity and cooperation with the rest of the world, is to prove successful.


These are among the findings of the World Built Environment Forum’s annual summit held in Shanghai, China last week.


More than 700 participants from 20 countries and 73 cities participated in the high-level platform convened by RICS, a global professional body working across land, real estate, construction and infrastructure.


Forming the backdrop for discussions at the two-day summit was how should cities respond to the ‘new normal’ of geopolitical shifts and an economic environment of low growth, low inflation, low productivity, low oil prices and low interest rates?


Other ‘globally significant challenges’ that were explored included: how can cities become resilient and smart; and how can innovations within the built environment drive productivity gains and spur growth?


China’s OBOR initiative seeks to fund corridors of road, rail and energy infrastructure to create a modern-day ‘Silk Road’ to improve economic and trade links.


Participants recognised that OBOR could raise the prosperity of an estimated 4.4 billion people living in the 65 nations along the Belt and Road routes. To achieve this potential, the summit heard that infrastructure projects had to be properly scoped, carefully planned and professionally implemented.


With this in mind, Ivy Yin, executive vice president, Shanghai Oriental Investment Supervision Co, called on industry and governments to “strengthen the connection between Chinese and international standards” to ensure a consistent set of definitions and benchmarks for projects spanning national borders.


Meanwhile, Vincent Lo, chairman of Shui On Group and the Hong Kong Trade and Development Council, emphasised the central importance of uniform standards and international recognition of professional qualifications to deliver OBOR projects as efficiently as possible.


“With technology, innovation and shared professional standards, we can build a sustainable future while achieving growth and integration,” he added.


The annual summit offers a regular meeting place for the World Built Environment Forum to discuss some of the most pressing global challenges and identify solutions by engaging leaders across the built environment sector.


Held in a different urban hub every year, the summit looks at the sector through a holistic lens, bringing together stakeholders from all aspects of the sector to explore common issues. The third annual summit will be held in London next year.



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