Open letter to health officials in governments, states, and cities responding to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic

Special to Ontario Construction News

We are writing on behalf of the Governors of the World Economic Forum Infrastructure and Urban Development Industry Community, comprised of Chief Executive Officers and other senior leaders of the industry, who are partners of the World Economic Forum. The Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is causing an unprecedented human and economic impact in all nations around the world.           The greatest toll is occurring in our cities, where healthcare systems are strained by shortages of hospital facilities, especially intensive care beds, to treat the overwhelming numbers of new patients. Government officials in many jurisdictions have started efforts to expand much needed hospital capacity, but the public sector cannot do this alone.

As leaders of preeminent engineering, construction, and development companies in the infrastructure and real estate sectors, we are well placed to lend our expertise and resources, in a co-ordinated manner, to assist in the immediate expansion of hospital capacity and post-crisis recovery to enhance the health and wellness of our built environment. Throughout history, advances in urban planning and infrastructure have had a profound effect on public health. The true value of our work is not limited to the built environment but is instead rooted in the health and resilience of the people and communities that inhabit our cities. This is our call to action.

In response to this ongoing crisis, our community proposes support of two measures to assist in the expansion of hospital capacity through partnership with the World Economic Forum’s Platform for Shaping the Future of Cities, Infrastructure and Urban Services and the Forum’s COVID Action Platform:

  • Assisting Governments, States and Cities with the expansion of hospital facilities by repurposing existing buildings and constructing new medical facilities; and
  • Supporting the Connected Units for Respiratory Ailments (CURA) initiative, whose objective is to construct and deploy mobile Intensive Care Units housed in modular shipping containers.

Our businesses have already begun mobilizing in selected countries, states and cities, and we are ready to combine our resources with your political leadership to ensure that all communities are prepared to provide an adequate response to this rapidly changing crisis. By working together, we can embark on a coordinated effort to best utilize public and private sector resources in order to contain COVID-19.

In the coming days, our companies will issue press releases and public announcements in the countries, regions and cities in which we operate, providing additional details and specific contact information for each location. General inquiries about the Infrastructure and Urban Development business community’s partnership with the World Economic Forum may be directed to the Infrastructure and Urban Development (IU) team at

Sincerely yours,

Steve Demetriou, chair and CEO, Jacobs; Coen van Oostram, founder and CEO, EDGE Technologies/OVG Real Estate; John Beck, chairman, Aecon Group Inc.; Frank Roseen. executive director Capital Markets and member of the Board of Directors, Aroundtown SA; Alan Belfield, chairman, Arup Group; Mads Nipper, group president and CEO, Grundfos Holding A/S; George Oliver, chairman and CEO, Johnson Controls; Christian Ulbrich, global CEO and president, Jones Lang LaSalle Incorporated; Philippe Delorme, energy management business CEO, Schneider Electric; Eric Rondolat. CEO, Signify; and Ian L. Edwards, president and CEO, SNC-Lavalin.

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