COVID19 has exposed the policy and funding gaps that handicap many countries and economies.

These critical gaps exist in infrastructure investment and delivery in developed and developing country alike. As populations grow and the need for more and better housing increases, so does the pressure to provide quality infrastructure to boost economic and social growth. To close these gaps a collaborative approach is needed by all infrastructure participants, no more so from central and local government decision-makers.

A country’s, a region’s or a city’s infrastructure investment enabling environment is a major driver of investment decisions and outcomes. The enabling environment for investment is the broad set of frameworks, actors, institutions and practices to develop and deliver viable and high-quality infrastructure projects. Good governance and trust are important.

This environment is driven by economic, political or business conditions, legal and regulatory frameworks, governance and institutional capabilities, and the depth and stability of financial markets. While these are a broad set of factors, they all contribute to infrastructure investment outcomes to varying degrees. A good financial environment is important.

In the UK, we have nuances that impact each one of these. At the regional level, we have counties, districts, regions, cities and ‘greater’ cities. Each one of these comes with its own negotiated hard targets.

I sense that there is a disconnect, however. Some risks, like climate, are systemic. They require a systemic response. A stress test will give a good check for resilience, of infrastructure, of political systems, etc.

This stress test might reveal what we already know, that we our cities, exist in a crowded space for energy transition and for decarbonisation. It’s a crowded space and our attention spans are far too short. It’s a big surprise we’ve hung onto the COVID19 crisis at the top of the news cycle for as long as we did. In some cities, COVID simply exacerbated existing problems of effective waste management and the fortification of flood defences, ensuring that these will come back to haunt those in power, or in charge. For not everyone in charge has power! I am minded to talk about the race to run Brighton and Hove City Council this week. But I won’t.

But if I were, I would tell my colleagues on the Council that they cannot spend their way to net zero, now with a worse case scenario for the deficit at £39m, or even at the more optimistic £17m.

What my colleagues should do is attract private capital to invest in the net zero world in the city so we can hot our hugely ambitious net zero by 2030. The Chancellor a couple of weeks ago offered £3bn to increase the efficiency of buildings but we do not know as a city how much investment we need to retrofit our own residential building stock, or even our public sector buildings.

The Government can provide more clarity, of course it can, and more money.

We need a route map to COP26. Our city and our cities need this road map to highlight the way to adaptation and resilience. There is a lot that we can do as individuals, as organisations, and as cities to collaborate and show leadership ourselves. Are we up to the job? Are we able to align our green growth and our industrial strategies to plug that infrastructure gap?

More on this some other time.