Milan, May 16, 2018 – “Let’s plant the seeds of the future for the generations after us. The concept of work has to go back to being able to plan and build. Innovation, change and skill are the key elements of a winning strategy in a competitive global market that is ever evolving,” said Pietro Salini, Chief Executive of Salini Impregilo during “Future Trends in Infrastructure”, a panel discussion organised on May 15 by the Group at the Triennale di Milano museum. Salini said innovation brings together two key elements: people with know-how and ingenuity, and technology, whether it be digitalisation, artificial intelligence or the Internet of Things. These go from being simple tools to key elements for business to improve productivity and cost efficiency.
In addition to Salini, the other participants in the panel discussion about future prospects for the infrastructure sector were Stefano Boeri, president of the Triennale di Milano and founder of the architectural firm behind Milan’s Bosco Verticale (Vertical Forest) that won the Best Tall Building award in 2015; Andrea Goldstein, economics professor at the Catholic University of Milan; Marta Dassù, Senior Director of European Affairs at the Aspen Institute; and Riccardo Monti, Senior Partner & Managing Director for Boston Consulting Group in Milan.
“Skills keep growing with people, who build unique infrastructure works and are our base of knowledge. Our Group intends to keep growing by relying on three key elements: the skills of the people who work with us, the new technologies that keep improving the sector’s competitiveness and the ability to adapt to change,” said Salini. “The know-how that we have acquired from some of the biggest public works in the world is today helping us take on new challenges such as the United States, which is becoming ever more our domestic market.
“We believe so much in our people that we have decided to celebrate their work with this photo exhibit at the Triennale,” Salini added. “Cyclopica has a unique collection of images of our past that sets the stage for our future.”
Stefano Boeri touched on the issue of sustainability and the role infrastructure helping create the cities of the future. He said cities were the first to cause climate change but also the first to suffer from it. He called for a concerted effort to develop more renewable energy and reforestation. Cities would would benefit, improving not only the quality of life of its residents but also the climate. In Italy, four million out of 12 million homes are degraded, obsolete and energy wasteful. A campaign to renew housing would regenerate cities and give a boost to the construction industry, providing jobs to thousands of people.
Andrea Goldstein said infrastructure was also important for job creation and the development of human capital to narrow socio-economic disparities. Within the framework of the social development goals set out by the United Nations in 2015, infrastructure is earning a growing recognition for its role in sustainable development.
Marta Dassù spoke of the outlook for the United States, saying President Donald Trump has taken an unconventional approach to revive the economy with tax cuts and economic nationalism. And it appears to be working. But if Trump were to loose in the mid-term elections, the political and geopolitical uncertainties would multiply. Another effort he is doing to improve the economy is his proposal to Congress to invest more than $1 trillion in infrastructure with the help of private investors.
In the United States, for example, there are about 15,000 dams that need to be modernized, explained Riccardo Monti. The country’s cities were becoming more interconnected thanks to complex infrastructure like big bridges and tunnels, creating more opportunities for the entire sector. Monti said the sector nevertheless needed to improve productivity through the use of new technology and innovative processes, allowing them to keep a competitive edge. He did not think technological innovation would destroy jobs but rather create the need for new professions with a positive impact on employment.
The panel discussion was followed by a concert by the Cameristi della Scala, the chamber orchestra founded in 1982 and comprised of musicians from the Orchestra of Teatro alla Scala. Protagonists of the most prestigious concert halls in the world, the Cameristi closed the evening performing Vivaldi and Piazzolla.
Salini Impregilo is one of the leading global players in large, complex civil infrastructure with a presence in 50 countries. It is specialized in the water segment, for which it has been ranked leader for five years in a row by the U.S. industry magazine, ENR. It is also a leader in other sectors like rail and metro, roads, bridges and highways, civil and industrial buildings and airports.
The event was an initiative by the Group to promote a debate about infrastructure and have it enter the political agenda in Italy. “Cyclopica”, which runs from May 1 to June 3, has already received a large number of visitors, celebrates work and the scale of infrastructure projects throughout the world. It offers an immersive, multi-sensorial journey enriched by the Group’s heritage of more than 1.2 million photos and 600 videos that document the history of work and the challenges that have often appeared impossible to overcome, such as the transfer of the temples of Abu Simbel in Egypt, the construction of the Trans-Iranian Railway, the new canal in Panama and some of the world’s biggest dams.
FUTURE TRENDS IN INFRASTRUCTURE