Looking back to her ambitions when she took over the role in September 2020, Méka Brunel, former CEO of Gecina, tells us about the outcomes of her involvement as EPRA Chairwoman and shares some insights on the challenges ahead to be faced by her successor.
How will your Chairwomanship of EPRA be remembered?
Well, probably as a Zoom mandate due to the pandemic. More seriously, when I took up my position as Chairwoman, I wanted to put the EPRA at the heart of two major issues in our industry: the battle for female inclusion and the urgency of climate action.
Women represent more than 50% of humanity and can also be part of different minorities (ethnic, social, LGBTQ+, disabled, …). I am grateful to the Board that we put the Diversity Programme, our mentoring programme, in place. The female inclusion of profiles is a formidable lever for fostering innovation and the global challenges we face. We cannot cut ourselves off from half of humanity to rethink our production models.
We must also highlight our collective work on corporate social responsibility and improving the EPRA Sustainability Best Practices Recommendations (sBPR). We are now working on the issues of governance of the EU Taxonomy, which might be a challenge and will also be a huge opportunity for our collective actions to preserve our planet.
Our industry can and does contribute positively to the transition for which all our economies and societies are expected to work.
When taking over the EPRA Chairwomanship, you named COVID-19, environmental transformation, metropolitanisation and digital revolution as some of the main challenges and trends in the listed real estate sector. How has this evolved during your tenure?
COVID-19 has urged us to question our relationship with time, space and nature. It is impossible to deny this. After decades of urban sprawl, cities will experience a new age of centrality and density at the heart of transport hubs and services. But also, of sobriety.
Indeed, we can no longer escape the imperative of environmental sobriety. Legislation reminds us of this. We must continue anticipating and taking the lead because there is no plan B; the earth is not one country.
Finally, the digitalisation and automation of many tasks have also accelerated, threatening administrative jobs and reinforcing the most qualified jobs and service jobs. Paradoxically, human relations are becoming even more essential, and our industry must adapt.
A word of advice for the next Chairperson?
The last few years have forced our industry to think about reinventing itself; they have led to questions about our practices and have ultimately helped us improve.
We are entering a different period, a dark period where uncertainty remains high, but we should not lose sight of the major issues. And I am thinking in particular of the climate emergency. Climate change is one of the biggest challenges of our times, and we must continue our transformation without wavering.
This is not advice but food for thought. And I wish all the best to my successor and also the Board and Advisory Board and, as such, the whole of the EPRA membership, existing or future.