In a truly global gathering of ULI leaders and Trustees in Paris, there are several developers and investors from the U.S. National Capital participating in the thought leadership activities.  I caught up with several of them on day two of the conference and discussed their takeaways from the first day of the meeting.

Deborah Harmon, Co-Founder and CEO of Artemis Real Estate Partners in Bethesda, MD  attended a breakout session on Rapid Urbanization.  At this session it became clear to her that there is a critical need in the coming decades for every individual to consider themselves as citizens of the world and to share lessons learned across developed and emerging economies.  In addition, Ms. Harmon was stuck by the potential to leverage the reach of ULI through global partnerships.

Deborah Ratner Salzberg, President of Forest City Enterprises in Washington, D.C. participated in an Infrastructure break out session.  She was reminded how far ahead some areas of the globe are in providing extensive investment in infrastructure as part of creating new cities to accommodate the population migration from the rural areas to the cities.  Over the coming decades it will be critical for countries to monitor these systems since they are all being built and will age at the same time, likely encountering some of the same cyclical problems that are being encountered in the U.S. today.

A third D.C. area leader at the conference is Richard Perlmutter, Principal, Argo Development Company in Rockville, MD.  Richard attended the Retail breakout session on Thursday and was interested to learn that because of our society’s desire to have products delivered almost immediately, it is causing Amazon to lose money on delivery services in order to dominate the market and impact other retail operations.

From my own perspective, one of the most fascinating presentations was made by Sir Malcolm Grant, Chair of the National Health Service in England.  Several nuggets from the presentation:  Dr. Google is the most consulted medical professional in the world today, sitting is the new smoking and health is the new wealth.  Sir Malcolm showed a fascinating example of how to help people have a healthy lifestyle – a machine in the Mexico City subway which, if you do ten squats on it, will issue you a free ticket on the transportation system.  I plan to take this idea back to WMATA staff – if, in the future, you see such a machine in D.C.’s Metro, you can say you heard about it here first – and do your exercise to earn a free ride!