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​​UK Built Environment Advisory Group

Launched in 2016, at Habitat III in Quito, Ecuador, the UK Built Environment Advisory Group (UKBEAG) is a collaboration between the Royal Institute of British Architects, the Royal Town Planning Institute, the Institution of Structural Engineers and the Landscape Institute. Its purpose is to provide a more effective conduit for globally sharing built environment expertise. This is done together with humanitarian and development agencies such as the UK Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) and UN-Habitat, on a non-profit basis and for the public good

Recent surveys have evidenced a critical lack of capacity among built environment professionals in many of the countries that are urbanising most rapidly and are among the most vulnerable to climate impacts. This is combined with a corresponding lack of educational capacity and a perceived weakness in built environment policy, eg planning policy and building code.

With a projected increase in the world’s urban population of 2.5bn by 2050 (95% of which will be in Africa and Asia), over 70% of carbon emissions are attributable to cities and 65% of the 169 targets underlying the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals linked to territorial and urban development, the UKBEAG brings together the collective skills and expertise of over 100,000 built environment professionals in more than 150 countries around the world to support countries facing a range of issues associated with challenges such as rapid urbanisation and climate change.

Governance Arrangements & Secretariat

The UKBEAG was established as a voluntary collaboration based on an agreed Terms of Reference. Responsibility for Chairing the group rotates on a biennial basis, with the Chair-in-Office taking responsibility for administrative matters. The current Chair is occupied by IStructE, the RIBA and RTPI having previously held the role.

Global Future Cities Transition and Training Dialogue week, September 2018, held at RIBA - 66 Portland Place, London

Case study: Global Future Cities Programme

The UKBEAG was an active contributor to the FCDO Prosperity Fund Global Future Cities Programme (GFCP), which began in 2017 and was completed in early 2022. The aim of this £80m ODA-funded programme was to promote prosperity and reduce inequality in 19 rapidly urbanising cities in 10 countries in South America, Sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East, and Southeast Asia. The programme comprised a total of 30 interventions organised around three pillars, transportation, urban planning, and resilience. Working closely in collaboration with UN-Habitat in their role as strategic programme partners, the UKBEAG was appointed to develop and deliver the strategic capacity development component the aim of which was to use the projects as an opportunity to engage with some of the broader challenges faced by the cities, helping to better position the programme for success upon completion.

The methodology associated with the strategic capacity development component was developed in collaboration with The University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership and the work was delivered over four years with a range of industry partners including the British Standards Institution, Connected Places Catapult, Design Council, HM Treasury Infrastructure & Projects Authority, the International Growth Centre, the Met Office, Ordnance Survey, Transport for London and the UCL Development Planning Unit, among others. It will be noted that all of these partners represent professional, independent, non-dividend distributing organisations offering independent, impartial, expert advice. In the absence of any form of legal entity, the contract for the GFCP was initially executed between UN-Habitat and the RIBA on behalf of its members.

Looking Forwards

As a result of its engagement with the GFCP, the UKBEAG has established its reputation with organisations such as the FCDO and UN-Habitat as a one-stop shop for access to the UK-built environment professions and its extensive network of partners. It is well positioned to become a trusted partner for advice and expertise in the built environment for the UK government’s international development activities globally, the UK government’s overseas missions, and the UK government’s partners in this space.

Global Future Cities Transition and Training Dialogue week, Argent King's Cross Regeneration Project site visit, September 2018

Further information

Contact us here for more information on the UK Built Environment Advisory Group .

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