The Bartlett School of Sustainable Construction


UCL partnership with OECD inspires a new expert Network of Professionals in Infrastructure Delivery

16 February 2024

For the first time after 17 years the OECD is launching a new Network, dedicated to Professionals in Infrastructure Delivery. This builds upon the partnership between UCL and the OECD signed in 2022 to advance social and economic development through infrastructure delivery.

The Millau Bridge, in Southern France, crosses the Tarn River in the Massif Central Mountains as part of the A75 Motorway.

Photo by Vladan Raznatovic on Unsplash 

UCL is investing significant resources to advance the science in infrastructure delivery globally, launching in 2023 a ground-breaking new MBA in Major Infrastructure Delivery at the Bartlett School of Sustainable Construction.

The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) provides a unique and tested platform to facilitate cooperation among member countries, leveraging experience and evidence. The overall objective of the Network is to address current and hands-on problems major public infrastructure clients are facing in the domain of project delivery. It may also pursue areas, which strongly interface with the delivery dimension, such as permitting. The OECD will work collaboratively with the participants to produce practical take aways that could be implemented by the members and transform infrastructure performance.   

The new Network of Professionals in Infrastructure Delivery complements and enriches the ongoing Senior Infrastructure and PPP Officials Network (SIP), advancing the needs of public infrastructure clients, responsible for the delivery of major infrastructure projects through PPPs or public financing. An objective of the new network is also to keep the high-level policy makers aware of the challenges at the policy implementation level, advancing the needs of public infrastructure clients. At the OECD, the SIP represents the interests and needs of the 38 member countries in the space of infrastructure governance.

In the Network of Professionals in Infrastructure Delivery, the programme of evidence-based thinking will be executed through several instruments:

  • Facilitating dialogue and peer learning through OECD led expert meetings. 
  • Developing targeted research, guidance, and tools.
  • Training on the use of practical tools (i.e. Support Tool on Effective Procurement Strategies - STEPS).

UCL’s partnership with the OECD helped to advance research and evidence-based thinking in major infrastructure delivery, strengthening the urgency to enable the delivery and provision of infrastructure at scale to societies around the world. UCL’s participation in expert meetings with representatives from 38 countries and keynotes are examples of knowledge sharing and activities that inspired the creation of the Network of Professionals in Infrastructure Delivery. 

An example of how relevant the above issues are is an expert meeting hosted in 2023 titled: “Construction Risk Management in Infrastructure Procurement: The Loss of Appetite for Fixed-Price Contracts”. Fixed price contracts such as Design & Build or Engineering-Procure-Construct contracts for example are two major formats through which major projects are delivered. They are also a fundamental vehicle, which insulates investors from cost overruns and delays (i.e., construction risk) and are a first condition to make PPPs possible. On the occasion, Dr Juliano Denicol shared UCL’s award-winning research on megaprojects with a presentation on how to build client capabilities to deliver megaprojects.

The expert meeting above is just one of the examples how the OECD is contributing to shape the global debate and help sharing knowledge between member countries, while expand its already existing base of evidence and experience to steer policy and decision making, also at the level of project delivery. Based on member countries identified priorities and evidence regarding the challenges facing the delivery of infrastructure programmes, the OECD is establishing an innovative Network of Professionals in Infrastructure Delivery, with an inauguration event on the 09th of April in Paris.

Dr Juliano Denicol, Director of the MBA Major Infrastructure Delivery, said: 

Infrastructure provision is critical to unlock economic growth, create social value, and enable our societies globally. Yet, major infrastructure projects are complex to deliver and often suffer from significant cost overruns and delays. We need to urgently improve infrastructure delivery by tackling the causes of poor performance, as suggested by UCL’s award winning research. The OECD’s new Network of Professionals in Infrastructure Delivery will create a platform for evidence-based thinking that will transform the implementation of tools and research across the 38 member states.   

Dejan Makovsek, Procurement Strategy Lead, OECD Infrastructure and Public Procurement Division said:

The establishment of the new Network dedicated to infrastructure delivery builds on our efforts to support OECD member countries in improving their infrastructure governance frameworks in line with the 2020 OECD Recommendation on the Governance of Infrastructure. As an example of strategic tools developed to improve infrastructure globally, the OECD recently rolled out the Support Tool for Effective Procurement Strategy (STEPS), an innovative evidence-based tool helps build procurement strategies for major infrastructure and bespoke projects. State-Owned Enterprises or public sector agencies who might be interested and who did not yet receive a call through government channels are invited to contact the OECD at (govinfoipp@oecd.org) for more information.

Professor D’Maris Coffman, Vice-Dean Innovation and Enterprise, The Bartlett Faculty of the Built Environment said:

The OECD has acted boldly in establishing a new Network of Professionals who will strive to build the capabilities of member states to deliver high-quality major infrastructure projects which will generate economic and social value for all stakeholders. At UCL, we are proud of the work that the Bartlett School of Sustainable Construction is doing to rise to the challenges identified by the OECD and to change the narrative around the delivery of major infrastructure globally. Mobilising resources and building state capacities on a scale needed to address the climate emergency while meeting the unmet demand globally for infrastructure provision are crucial to delivering on the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals and the Grand Challenges facing all human societies.