Is that… is that light I see at the end of the tunnel? Since the EU referendum in 2016, it feels as though we have been in perpetual darkness.
What a difference a decisive Conservative victory makes. We start a new decade and an otherwise joyless January (you know things are bad when Greggs introduces vegan steak bakes) in the hope that, finally, the UK property market will get motoring again. Don’t take my word for it. Take your own.
In December, we put out our call to property’s leading lights for contributions to our annual forecast. We were overwhelmed by the response. Not only did you send us a record number of contributions – more than 100 – they were also longer than usual and, now the Brexit shackles have been loosened, more expansive and insightful, which is why we’re running the forecast over two weeks for the first time.
It will come as no surprise that the general election topped the list of talking points, with most of you cautiously optimistic about the year ahead now Boris Johnson has been given a clear mandate to deliver Brexit. However, coming up fast on the rails from way down the field is the climate crisis/ESG agenda. The question is whether this will be the year it evolves from being a talking point to a genuine action point.
I hope it is and that the issue doesn’t just prove to be the latest bandwagon for the woke to jump excitedly onto. It’s not people’s intent I doubt. I have a problem with some of the terminology, particularly the word ‘sustainability’. When I first wrote about sustainability almost two decades ago, it was little more than a euphemism for savage energy and waste cost-cutting. Accusations of greenwash were rife.
We have moved on. The word has been superseded by less nebulous and more meaningful terminology such as ESG, social impact and the climate crisis. Let’s use those terms – and let’s walk the walk as well as talk the talk.
With that in mind, I am delighted to announce that Property Week is joining forces with the UK Green Building Council to launch The Climate Crisis Challenge. Our mission is to help turn an industry that is currently a big part of the problem into a big part of the solution and we will be calling on you in the coming weeks to rise to the challenge, which I know you will. Just don’t expect it to be easy. There are no simple solutions to the climate crisis. If there were, we wouldn’t have a crisis.
Neither are there any simple solutions to the industry’s diversity problem, by the way. Interestingly, diversity features prominently in your forecasts for 2020, but not as prominently as in the past. Could an element of diversity fatigue be creeping in? I fear the debate has been reduced to furthering the cause of women at the expense of all others. That’s not the way forward. You don’t get rid of toxic masculinity by replacing it with toxic femininity.
That is why this year, Property Week will continue to drive the wider diversity agenda. We will also continue through our newly formed investigations unit to delve into the big issues that matter to you – rather than us.
Like most of you, we’re not interested in being right on, we’re interested in being spot on, so if you do frequent echo chambers, don’t expect to find us there.