I have now arrived back from Dalian and what an interesting and exhilarating few days it was. The world is certainly optimistic but it does seem that there is a lot that still needs to be done before it can be described as steady.
The Meeting’s ‘innovation’ theme was evident at every juncture. There is no doubt that the early adopters and adapters of technology will reap benefits from this approach, however innovation is not just technological; sometimes it is simply about outsmarting the competition.
The discussion I led on the Emerging Trends in Asian Real Estate was extremely interesting. The Planning Director for Dalian made a very compelling case for China’s continued growth, as did the Singaporean professor on the panel. Interestingly no-one had a contrarian view until the subsequent session on financing. Very little is known about how much exposure local China banks have to real estate and infrastructure, except that it is substantial. It is this that is proving the biggest concern for the finance community in the short term – not the rapid speed of building that is so often referenced.
In the breakout session, we discussed technological innovation for individual buildings. While we are now starting to see actual returns on investment from sustainable development, we need to ensure that national governments implement a more robust set of regulations to help drive these efficient technologies. We also need to see a greater partnership between building owners – it was here that Singapore was mentioned.
I spent the remainder of the day attending various discussion sessions and one-on-one meetings which all continued along the same theme and re-in forced my view that real estate is a hot topic and it is extremely rare to be the only “game” in town.
I thoroughly enjoyed my time at the Forum and have made some great contacts for the future. As the WEF has recently declared its intent to increase the profile of the Real Estate forum, we are uniquely positioned to help drive the agenda. What an excellent and exciting position to be in!