Zero-carbon. Sense of belonging. Mindsets. Bike rides – James McKechnie gets set for MIPIM 2020.
We caught up with James McKechnie, who as our national lead on transportation has a keen eye on what delegates at MIPIM will have to say about the future of placemaking and the zero-carbon agenda. James told us what he is looking forward to hearing and talking about at MIPIM:
James, what do you think will be most hotly discussed at MIPIM 2020?
Sustainability and the zero-carbon agenda, and in particular how this critical agenda integrates with the need to create quality places that promote social interaction, quality of life, wellbeing and a sense of belonging.
What are you most interested in hearing about?
I’m interested to hear a diverse range of views on how to address the zero-carbon challenge. It’s about understanding the gap between best intentions and delivery.
As I’ve said, I think this will be a hot topic. I think there will be some fascinating debate on how to achieve the delivery of quality places, sustainably, to enable social growth.
What’s the key thing you want to discuss with other delegates at MIPIM?
I’m really keen to see what the appetite is for something that in transport planning circles we call ‘decide and provide’.
There is such a focus now on designing places that people are proud to call ‘home’ and that are future-proofed to accommodate the technological advances being made to deliver low-carbon travel choices. In the world of transport planning, I firmly believe we need to confine the model of ‘predict and provide’ to history. It’s time to challenge an established norm which is that historical data should influence the transport solutions we put in place around masterplan developments. Instead we should be ‘deciding’ the future that we want, moving away from a reliance on fossil fuel travel and providing infrastructure to support electric vehicles, micro-mobility, for example, electric scooters, rail, and cycling. If we don’t do this, we’re simply delivering more of the same.
So, I’m interested to understand mindsets. Do we think we’ve reached a point where we can stop relying on historical, predictive data, and instead deliver the designs and create places that truly influence how we will travel, more sustainably, over the next 10 years?
James, you’ve been to MIPIM several times. What do you most enjoy?
I like the fact that it is a forum where everyone wants to talk and is free to talk. It means you get all sorts of engagement that you wouldn’t otherwise see in the normal run of your working life. It’s actually a real eye-opener in this regard. There’s no conference or event in the UK quite like it.
What’s your top tip for getting the very best out of the experience?
Don’t put too much in your diary before you go. You need some time available to take up the unexpected opportunities that present themselves which are a result of meeting people who you might not bump into back at home, and have the time to engage with you.
When you’re packing your case, what important item to you will be included?
My cycling kit because I’m very much looking forward to joining Coreus Group on their bike ride!
What will you turn to when you need a break from the networking?
It’s important to keep in touch with the family, so a quick call home each day. Apart from that – bed (MIPIM is full-on)!