Over 20,000 attendees made their way from across Europe and further afield to Cannes for the annual real estate conference, MIPIM. With the theme of this year’s event being “Better Places, Greater Impact, Stronger Business”, there was a particular focus on Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG), decarbonisation, innovation and business efficiency. To understand what the main conversations and takeaways of the event were, we’re looking at the main discussion points that were covered over the four day event, and where the industry is focused for the immediate future and beyond.

Sustainability and ESG

It’s no surprise that environmental and social impact were high on the agenda for this year’s conference as the sector continues to focus on reducing the carbon emissions from property industry and the importance of placemaking and positive impact on communities. Our Real Estate partner, Reena Patel, gave her insights from the conference:

“There is growing demand for sustainable properties, so much so that anything not meeting high EPC and sustainability thresholds is impaired in the disposal market and will need to be significantly discounted to be sold. The best-in-class office buildings with high ESG credentials will be compelling in the UK office market as demand from occupiers for office space generally reduces, but requirements for energy efficient and sustainable workplaces increases.”

“On the S of ESG, there was a lot of talk at MIPIM about social purpose and the regeneration of deprived UK cities, with levelling up being crucial to the UK PLC agenda and how best to deliver it. Homes England held a panel session around leveraging a multi-stakeholder approach to create high-quality places, where they made it clear they are open to speak to the private sector about partnering to deliver regeneration – not just housing and affordable housing, but provision of education, healthcare and creating sustainable communities.”

Economy and investment

With the recent collapse of Silicon Valley Bank, there was understandably much discussion about the implications on the broader real estate market and whether investment priorities might shift. That said, as the sun shone down on Cannes, there remained a buoyant mood amongst investors, developers, local authorities and government officials. Investment opportunities across UK cities appear to be abundant, as a number of regions exhibited at the conference. The West Midlands Pavillion showcased over £15 billion of investment, while Derbyshire presented hundreds of million pounds of investment opportunities to create homes and commercial spaces on the Invest City Focus event, held at the EG Pavilion.

The role of tech in real estate’s future

Technological advances have changed the face of the industry in recent years, and tech was a key topic during the four-day event. Particularly, how technology can play a vital role in achieving ESG targets. From green concrete that helps to reduce embodied carbon in construction, to alternative cooling and heating solutions becoming more mainstream, there’s obviously a clear focus and ownership on shaping a more sustainable and resilient built environment.