Spotlight: RICS President Amanda Clack

Q: In 2015, the RICS Futures programme looked at some of the challenges facing infrastructure in the next 15 years. What were the biggest ones?

AC: One was a $57 trillion infrastructure gap through to 2030 that needs to be filled. Globally, we've underinvested in infrastructure. We also looked at city trends. At the moment, 54 percent of the world's population is in our cities. The United Nations is predicting a global population of 9 billion, of which 66 percent will be living in our cities, by 2050. So it will be a huge densification of our cities. You need the infrastructure both to make the cities work and also create the connectivity between cities.

Q: What is the goal of the paper RICS will present in May?

AC: This paper is looking at the North American market to see the trends, predictability, and level of finance available for the key projects emerging from that market.

Q: Is North American infrastructure in worse shape than other parts of the world?

AC: No. I think this is a global problem. And each country, each continent, has a unique profile. But I think governments have woken up to the fact that you have to be investing in infrastructure in order to stimulate and sustain economic growth and to maintain a country's place within that profile.

Q: Do you think US policymakers are finally serious about tackling the country's infrastructure needs?

AC: Yes. Investing in infrastructure allows for a wider economic benefit in the surrounding areas. It allows America to be competitive on a global stage. It is going to help cities develop and grow and be a place where people want to live, work, and play. So you have to have good infrastructure in order to have a great economy.

Q: In the UK, has Brexit raised red flags for infrastructure investors?

AC: Not that we see. Looking at foreign direct investment into the UK, infrastructure – and particularly roads and airports – has been attractive for foreign investment and that is not withstanding the Brexit environment. Uncertainty is not good for infrastructure, whether it's political leaders, or changes in governance. All of that uncertainty will invariably have a level of impact. But we are not specifically seeing much as a result of Brexit as of yet.

Q: Do you see a move towards a greater role for the private sector in infrastructure financing?

AC: In short, it's a mix around the world, but you have to have a blend. There are different models that work in different countries, so the P3 environment is definitely one that is very popular here in North America.

Q: Is there a lot of capital waiting on the sidelines for opportunities to invest in infrastructure?

AC: Definitely. Pension funds, really came to investing in infrastructure. You're seeing a lot of Canadian pension funds, and others, out there looking at global investment.

Q: As a RICS Governing Council member since 2000 and now the president, what made you get involved in the organisation?

AC: RICS is the world's leading professional body for people working in land, construction and property, and for me that professional qualification is invaluable. It is like having a passport that allows you to work and operate anywhere in the world. It is really well regarded by clients and governments. We are advising governments on policy setting. I wanted to be part of that professional network of 125,000 qualified members and it is fantastic to be leading it now.