New opportunities in uncertain times

More than 20,000 delegates representing 90 countries gathered in Cannes for the 34th meeting of MIPIM – the global trade fair that brings together investors, political leaders and the real estate community to forge new relationships and find solutions to the challenges facing the built environment

With a growing number of stands and pavilions (340) taking up more space (19,500 sqm) and with new delegations from North America, the Middle East, South East Asia and elsewhere, MIPIM 2024 nevertheless proved that there are still a significant number of opportunities amid all the geopolitical, environmental and socio-economic uncertainty.

The event continues to attract representatives of the world’s largest institutional investors, such as pension funds, mutual funds, insurance companies, university endowments and sovereign wealth funds. Overall, it welcomed investors managing over EUR 4 tln of assets. And it was the most sustainable meeting to date, distinguished by four commitments to making the event cleaner, greener, more diverse and increasing our social impact. As part of this ongoing decarbonisation journey, MIPIM has signed up to the Road to Zero Alliance of high-profile businesses, including PwC and real estate investment trust Icade, to take faster and more effective environmental action.

The discussions that took place at the event highlighted new areas of opportunity and optimism. According to Alexander Misev, the head of property at Aware Super: “Now is one of the best times to be deploying money and it’s not a time to retreat. Some really interesting deals are going to pop up in Europe and the UK and we want to be ready for them.” While Barry Gosin, the CEO of Newmark, commented: “It’s our intention to be fully built-out across Europe. The primary markets where the majority of transactions occur are the UK, France and Germany, so we expect that to be one of the top two or three in each of those countries. And if you intend to make yourself available to clients and the European market, this is the place to do it.”

Nevertheless, the urgency surrounding climate action and the built environment’s pivotal role in the green transition was at the top of all discussions, and the world’s political leaders made their own cases for doing so. As former Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin insisted in her keynote address: “Without a green future, there is no future. When you do things first, you create opportunities. To this audience, I would say that it is smart to be a frontrunner in areas like green steel and green cement, in technology, and in finding new ways of living.” On the Road to Zero stage, Sophie Hæstorp Andersen, the Lord Mayor of Copenhagen, added to this that: “Climate action needs strong public support. We have a huge task ahead of us and we cannot do it without public support and collaboration – we need everyone on board.”

The dynamics surrounding capital flows into new and emerging asset classes were reflected in all the discussions, speeches and panels. With the continuing housing crisis in mind, a new platform was launched – Housing Matters! – for discussing the innovative solutions required to address it. Confirming the significance of this issue, housing ministers from France, the UK and Germany – MIPIM’s three largest markets in terms of delegate numbers – all took part in this platform with the aim of attracting investment into their own markets.

Elsewhere, other sectors, such as life sciences, renewable energy and infrastructure, were given an increasingly prominent role in the programme, which as a result featured speeches from a wide range of political leaders. Michal Mlynár, the UN assistant secretary general and acting executive director of UN-Habitat, stressed that: “We have to mobilise support to address the issue of adequate and affordable housing globally – 96,000 new, affordable homes need to be built across the world each day. Rapid urbanisation calls for sustainable solutions – and improving the housing conditions in societies is crucial to fostering individuals’ health, education and economic achievements.” Speaking on her specialist field, Joanne Henderson, the head of life sciences at CBRE, told us: “There’s lots more to play for in terms of real estate creating life sciences clusters. We’re doing more than just building labs and facilities. Developers are getting more involved in this sector and putting their own cash into it.”

With such crucial challenges facing the sector, the fair saw the launch of the MIPIM Challengers initiative to both attract the next generation of real estate leaders to the event to find new solutions to overcome these issues. Muyiwa Oki, the president of RIBA and one of the jury members of MIPIM Challengers, revealed that: “We had more than 150 entrants from across the globe and selected 16 of them. Some of their ideas aren’t necessarily new, but they tend to languish in university curricula and aren’t broadcast to wider audiences – such as urban farming and how it could work in places like South America. Our hope is that people at MIPIM are inspired by these proposed solutions to real-life problems and don’t just maintain the status quo.”

Wrapping up MIPIM 2024, Nicolas Kozubek, the director of MIPIM, announced that: “This year’s fair provided the global real estate sector with a platform to discuss new approaches for addressing the most important challenges facing our cities and societies. During the pre-opening, we held the Housing Matters! conference for the first time. The main message I will be taking away from MIPIM is one of hope. The fresh ideas provided by our future leaders at MIPIM Challengers and the inspirational speech from Sanna Marin show that if we act now it won’t be too late and we will all be able to benefit together in the long run. I look forward to hearing from the sector on how their MIPIM went and to start planning for another successful global fair in March 2025.”

MIPIM returns to the Palais des Festivals in Cannes on March 10-14th 2025.