Steve Demetriou, global chair and CEO at Jacobs, has taken over as co-chair of the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) influential Shaping the Future of Cities, Infrastructure and Urban Services steering committee at the forum’s annual meeting in Davos this year.
Demetriou is currently attending Davos to highlight how better designed infrastructure is the most important thing cities need to address the climate emergency by 2030. Cities account for 70% of the world’s emissions and the WEF has identified an “infrastructure gap” worth around $15 trillion.
The Jacobs CEO is focused on how new urban technological and design solutions can close that gap across both the developing and developed world, in a way that prioritises a low carbon future. Demetriou is keen to emphasise the importance of mobilising the private sector to work with governments and civil society to solve global issues.
Writing on the World Economic Forum’s website ahead of Davos, Demetriou said: “Tackling the crisis surrounding climate change is inextricably tied to every one of the economic, social and environmental challenges that our planet faces. Sharing knowledge of the solutions being implemented by progressive cities, in arresting and managing their carbon emissions, offers a way forward which will benefit everyone.”
Demetriou said there was a need to look at the development of cities in a new way that focused on them as a driver of economic growth while understanding the need for climate resilience. “Today we have an opportunity to look at cities in a new light, as the focus of future economic growth – where the next generations will live, work and play,” he said.
“Enabling our future cities to be resilient to the predicted impacts of climate change and to become carbon neutral will involve a different way of thinking. The greatest challenge we face is the need for unprecedented collaboration by all stakeholders. The creation or adaption of the next generation of resilient, sustainable cities will involve a sea change in approach – and that is our opportunity as global leaders in this space. We need to crack the opportunity to connect great solutions, collaborate across all sectors and promote a spirit of cooperation,” said Demetriou.
Having someone with over 30 years of global business leadership experience, including 14 years in the role of chief executive, in such an important global infrastructure role is a significant coup for Jacobs and the construction sector and no doubt Demetriou will make his presence felt in the months and years ahead.