Here below the report I have presented to the full council of the ICEC:
Report by Gianluca di Castri, DIF, EIE/ICEC.A, Senior Vice Chair, to the full council of the ICEC (International Cost Engineering Council)
November 17.th, 2020
The main issue in year 2020 has been the pandemic due to COVID19 that has completely changed not only our way to working, but our lives too. Some of these changes will not be reversible, the pandemic has been the accelerator of processes that were already in progress, albeit the world was not yet ready for them.
As far as macro-economics are concerned, the pandemic is causing a general depression, with a substantial decrease in the GNP and PPP that will take years to recover. Paradoxically, as all pandemic and major wars in the past have done, this depression will be an equalizer: however, it will be a different equalizer from the one some economy planners in different countries were looking for.
The second consequence will be that, due to the politics of subsidizing people, that have been necessary in order to avoid that social unrest be added to the general health problem, a lot of countries will exit this year with a public debt that could be higher than the debt after the first world war, it means that in some way we, as well as the next generations, shall continue to pay for the costs after the pandemic will be over.
As far our profession is concerned, we should consider some changes in our way of working:
- The ICEC World Congress in Ghana, 2020 has been cancelled and the next congress will be in Rotterdam, 2022: the opportunity to meet in an emerging African country has been lost until 2024. All future congresses shall probably allow, at least in part, the participation of people remotely connected. The positive point will be that people from the opposite part of the World will be able connect without losing too much time and without supporting heavy expenses, on the other side this people will be only a listener, since they will lose all the possibilities given by an international meeting like ours, such as networking, interpersonal exchange of knowledge, making new friends like we have done in the past.
- The same applies in the daily working routine, a lot of us was already used to work from home some days per week, but extend this behavior for five days a week is changing completely our way of working: non-verbal communication is lost, we sometimes need to work with colleagues that we have never met, the level of attention in a virtual meeting is lower than in a face to face meeting, and so on. Furthermore, in meetings with people from different countries, culture and mother tongue, the comprehension can be lower than in a face to face meeting. In plain words, we lose everything that is connected to the “intuitus personae”
- In reality, the change is not relevant to remote connections for meetings only. The way we are working is changing, we are using common document repositories as well as common data bases, we are working together modifying a common document, every day emerging technologies are offering new opportunities as well as new challenges, that we must be ready to understand before deciding whether they are to be accepted and integrated in our working system.
- As ICEC Executives, we were already used to work through remote devices and we shall continue, however we must understand that we are losing something either worldwide or at regional and national level, albeit for the time being we know that no alternative is available. The next term for the Executive as well as for the Associations and their members, shall with all probability still be based on virtuality at least for a substantial part of year 2021.
- Relationship among associations and their member is at risk to become loser due to the lack of opportunities to meet. However, this is not the only cause: there is a general crisis of any kind of associationism started since more than ten years and whose effects are now becoming more and more relevant. There is a need of a strict cooperation among our professional associations, respecting the various identities and without trying to encapsulate each other. Unfortunately, after thirty years of globalization, we are shifting again toward localism and particularism, this does not help.
- As far as the ICEC is concerned, I believe that we should increase our level of activities in order to become the leading party, or at least one among the leading parties, in the creation and establishment of the so called “project profession”. With all probability, now it is the right time to start
Is this a progress towards the future or a dystopic event that is hindering our way of life? It’s something in the middle, to be realistic. There are positive aspects as well as negative aspects, there will be winners and losers: the losers will be the ones that will not accept the change as well as the ones that become fully acquainted to the change, the winners shall be the persons or organizations able to find the “proper mix of past and future”.
Gianluca di Castri