FIDIC – taking the lead in positive change

Nelson Ogunshakin reports on the FIDIC 2015 conference in Dubai

from now represent a turning point in the organisation’s history, a point of modern reflection of the industry as well as strengthen the integrity and sustainability of the FIDIC brand. The conference renewed aspirations and hope for the high potential of FIDIC, as a chief driver for positive change within the industry.

The FIDIC 2015 conference took place in Dubai, which is itself not without significance. Dubai has in the past seven years adopted a cautious and pragmatic development programme, which is principally driven by the needs of Expo 2020. 

With projects such as its metro system extensions, completion of master plans for various end user cities, as well as an extended investment in the World Trade Centre’s recurrent income generated asset base, the projects under development for Expo 2020 are estimated to comprise approximately 30 billion USD worth of investments made over the next five years. It is pleasing that for such projects, there are many UK based professional consultancy and engineering firms involved.

Association for Consultancy & Engineering was represented at the conference by myself as ACE CEO, Vice-Chair Gavin English, and past chair Geoff French. Among the FIDIC award winners were Arup and IMC Worldwide both winning FIDIC project Merit Awards. Philip Jenkins of Atkins was honoured with a prestigious special FIDIC Award for his contribution to the industry.

Founded in 1913, the same year as ACE, the International Federation of Consulting Engineering known as FIDIC has a membership composed of national associations of consulting engineers, and currently covers 97 countries around the world. With the mission ‘to work closely with our stakeholders to improve the business climate in which we operate and enable our members to contribute to making the world a better place to live in, now and in the future’, FIDIC sets many global standards for industry business practices. 

As such it is vital that FIDIC, as a global voice of engineering consulting, is fully representative of the industry within the composition of the board and governance structure. This year’s FIDIC elections were a step forward in this regard, with the first Asian President, together with the first Vice President from the African continent.

New FIDIC President Jae Wan Lee from South Korea called for a change in the FIDIC governance structure to reflect the diversity within the industry. It is hoped that within this revision of governance structure it is not only regional or gender representation that will be discussed. 

Representation issues are also key - members of FIDIC are national associations, yet there is a lack of national association representatation on the FIDIC board which is composed of individuals from companies. 

Another main point within the new president’s speech was the desire to promote the FIDIC brand as being representative of best practice, integrity and sustainability. With the increased level of international collaboration on projects, it is increasingly important to ensure that best practice standards are maintained, and the integrity of contracts or other official representations of FIDIC standards are properly assured around the world.

The 2015 FIDIC elections and the resulting efforts of those elected regarding the revision of the governance structure will be an essential factor as to whether FIDIC will truly be the representative global voice of the engineering and consultancy industry in the future. The potential of FIDIC’s influence, if the governance is adjusted appropriately, is immense. As such FIDIC is likely to remain one of the key drivers for positive change within global industry standards.