Global Construction Accords

Why, and how, Governments and Construction Industries around the world should embrace construction Accords.

Hew is facing the camera wearing a suit and tie.

Hew Edgar

Associate Director - Policy

Last updated: 30th June 2021

In April 2019, New Zealand pioneered a new approach to construction and launched the Construction Sector Accord.

It was developed in collaboration with the Prime Minister of New Zealand, Accord Ministers, and an industry Accord Development Group (comprising thirteen sector leaders across industry and Government) and established a joint “commitment from the New Zealand government and industry to work together to create a high performing construction sector”  by meeting the key challenges facing the sector. These include issues such as: skills shortages, unclear regulations, a lack of leadership, an uncertain pipeline of work, and a culture of shifting risk.

CIOB believe this is a sound approach for construction in New Zealand, and that other countries around the globe should look to emulate this new approach. Specifically, at a UK Government level, there have been consistent calls for greater  collaboration and communication between Government and industry and while relationships among sector bodies have undoubtedly grown closer over the last 18 months, a structure which makes it clear there is a shared set of priorities can only help drive collaboration forward.

In Spring 2021, sectoral discussions began with a view to emulate this Accord with a Scotland-specific Scottish Construction Accord. The advantage of emulation is the opportunity for enhancement, and there are few areas that could further the Scottish version, establishing it as a blueprint for engagement.  As a public interest body, CIOB is well placed to make a significant contribution to the Accord development, and we have made representations accordingly.

Flexibility over Prescription 
Issues within the construction sector are ever-changing: what is a key issue now may be tackled within a short time frame, thus sectoral considerations can be focused elsewhere; similarly, there may be a prevalent issue that arises due to unforeseen circumstances. Few doubt may would have predicted a global pandemic – and subsequent lockdowns – in 2018.

As such, it is important that the existing, and future, Accords – not just in Scotland - are not prescriptive and focused on commitment to action, approaches, and considerations. This will allow for flexibility, and assurances of Accord reviews and appraisals should also be embedded.

Committing to Mental Health
CIOB has long held the view that more needs to be done to tackle mental health issues in construction. Indeed, our recent research report, published in March 2020, indicated that the stresses of construction can contribute to poor mental health and well-being, resulting in mental ill health being a silent crisis within the construction industry
CIOB recently made representations to Scottish Construction Accord drafters, advising that mental health is a prevalent issue that requires a joint Government and industry action, and offered a raft of recommendations that were lifted from our report. We are hopeful that the next iteration of the Accord will include these measures.

Enshrining UN Sustainability Development Goals (SDGs)
The New Zealand Construction Accord is a welcome commitment that covers all prevalent sectoral issues, however, it fails to reference the UN’s SDGs. 

As such, and with Scotland following the example of New Zealand, there is an opportunity for the Scottish Construction Accord to emulate and enhance the New Zealand template by enshrining the SDGs, and we have advised of this notion to Scottish Construction Accord developers.

Whilst there are 17 SDGs, not all of them are directly linked to construction. However, we believe a commitment to adhering to the following SDGs should be enshrined in the Scottish Accord: 

6: Clean Water and Sanitation 
7: Affordable and Clean Energy
8: Decent Work and Economic Growth
9: Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure
11: Sustainable Cities and Communities 
12: Responsible Consumption and Production
13: Climate Action

By enshrining the SDGs in the Accord, the Scottish Government can solidify its commitment to the initiative, showcasing how the construction industry can be used as a delivery mechanism for these far-reaching goals. 

Proliferation of the Accord Notion
Within a few months, the world will have two Construction Accords (New Zealand and Scotland), but CIOB is keen to see other national Governments and construction sectors embrace the concept. 

We will work with our members and stakeholder partners to build the case and implore Governments to recognise the many benefits Accords can bring the sector, market, and countries in which they are established. For further information, please contact [email protected]