The UK’s Real Estate Investment and Infrastructure Forum (UKREiiF) is embracing the aims of the Government’s Build Back Better initiative and making it a major theme.

Launched yesterday, UKREiiF has laid out a programme of new initiatives which will build towards a three-day networking, exhibition and conference super event in Leeds next year, the perfect environment for the private and property sector to meet and help each other.

Like Build Back Better, the forum will also have a special focus on radically improving sustainability in the built environment, creating innovation through having a diverse and inclusive working environment and developing skills to ensure the industry is provided for in the future.

UKREiiF creator Keith Griffiths said: “In last week’s budget last Rishi Sunak reaffirmed the importance of the government’s Build Back Better initiative to the UK’s future recovery plans. A policy paper published on the same day (March 3) has promised £100bn of capital spending over the next 12 months with investment in road, rail and cities key to the plan. So there are a lot of opportunities.

“But the recovery also needs to be done responsibly and with sustainability at its heart. Taking on climate change and the 2050 net zero target requires the industry to appeal across the board to all sections of UK society. The property industry has not led the way in embracing the need for diversity which is why this issue will be another main theme of UKREiiF.”

UKREiiF Advisory Group member Paul Pavia, who is head of development at property development and management specialists MEPC, believes the pandemic has brought into focus the dangers of events that threaten our way of life.

“There has been a sea change since the pandemic in terms of the awareness and need to accelerate our progress towards the net zero carbon target,” said Paul. “No longer is it something we are trying to do but must do.

“A year ago we would have never envisaged shutting down the whole country. It has happened and, if that can happen, then all the warnings about the impact of climate change on the planet have now become more real. The unreal has become the real.

“Property is one of the biggest contributors to carbon. 40 per cent of the UK’s carbon generation comes from the creation or operation of property. Therefore the property industry has a huge collective responsibility to find solutions and it’s events such as UKREiiF that will allow us collectively to share our experiences and challenges and solutions because this challenge is not about businesses in isolation to gain commercial advantage over competitors. It’s about making our industry sustainable.”

The industry has also been working hard to improve its image around diversity and UKREiiF has embraced the need for this element to be given the consideration it deserves.

UKREiiF Advisory Group member Sharon Slinger’s career-long battle with diversity issues led her to form Constructing Rainbows.

She said: “Being somebody who feels different within the construction industry can be a daunting experience. I noticed this from the very start of my quantity surveying career when studying at university, when I would go into lectures with predominantly male students and I felt like I didn’t quite fit in. It can feel quite isolating, which can lead to difficulties striking up those meaningful conversations that become very important when building teams.

“And this continues when you join the industry itself. Even now, 20 years later, at industry events I can really feel the difference being a woman. This is why I am excited that UKREiiF is going to be different. The aim is to create an event that feels inclusive to everyone, where that awkwardness is replaced with friendliness, where everyone gets opportunity to join conversations easily, and we embrace difference as a positive.

“Networking events are really important for individual careers and business, and if you are missing out on these, or you are not being your true self when attending, it can have a negative impact. As places where many relationships are formed and you can find out about new business opportunities, it can often mean that those from underrepresented groups miss out on major opportunities. We all have a role to play.

“Businesses should take an inward look at who are attending these events, do they represent the vibrant diverse group of people within your organisation? Attendees should consider whether they are being open and welcoming to new people. Why? Because ultimately diversity brings new experiences and different ideas and perspectives, meaning the conversation is much richer.”

Amos Simbo, founder of Black People In Construction (BPIC), is another who is lending his weight of knowledge to the UKREiiF cause as a member of the Advisory Group.

“There are a lot contributing factors in UKREiiF’s favour. The pandemic itself has brought into focus how things need to be done plus there are opportunities Brexit will bring about. People are having to look at their workforce and consider whether European labour can still fill in the gaps? They are having to reassess what talent’s available in the UK and we have a lot of untapped talent which, traditionally, was ignored.

“Also in the past, places like MIPIM can come across as remote/elitist. It also cuts off a lot of people before it even starts because of the costs. There was little aspect of bringing young professionals into it to gain exposure. It felt so distant. The best thing we can do is involve everybody and UKREiiF will help people realise they can achieve something because the opportunity it affords is within reach for a lot more people.”

For those wishing to find out more about UKREiiF, an ‘introduction to’ webinar is being put on next week (Wednesday, March 17). For more details on this free event click here. For further information about all aspects of UKREiiF visit

MEPC’s Paul PAvia
Sharon Slinger from Constructing Rainbows
BPIC’s Amos Simbo

For full details on all UKREIIF’S partnership packages click here