Globally, a number of professions are tackling the challenges that the sustainability agenda presents. This is important, not only because professional bodies directly engage and influence education and training provision, but also because of the vital role they play in wielding influence through professional advice to private sector and public sector clients.

In the chartered surveying profession, this is being played out on a global scale as many surveying firms, which practise internationally, now accept the fundamental principle that land and buildings should be managed to promote sustainable development. This is not only a key principle in providing the basis for running their own businesses, but also in offering advice to clients.

This is important as land and property is a key asset in many global businesses: the building and construction sector is worth 10% of global GDP, employs 111 million people (75% of those in developing countries), and the total global "investible" property is worth approximately $16trillion.

The scope of surveying advice (which could range from acquisition, disposal, purchase, development or management and maintenance) stretches across a variety of property owners and user organisations, varying in scale from multi-million corporate owners and occupiers, large-scale public sector bodies and international pension funds, through to the small and medium enterprises sector. The professional advice that surveyors offer has a huge potential to influence the climate change and low carbon agendas at national, city and building level, because the built environment also contributes to some 40% of global carbon emissions.