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FIDIC 2009: State of the world

FIDIC used the London conference to launch its new “State of the World” report which takes a critical look at the needs of infrastructure around the globe. Jo Stimpson reports.

The FIDIC “State of the World” Infrastructure Report 2009 looks at infrastructure on a global scale and the major issues impacting upon it − our lifestyles, the economic downturn, climate change, urbanisation, population growth and natural disasters.

The report makes proposals for how the engineering community should meet new challenges and ensure the global success of infrastructure. The recommendations are made in eight areas. Each section identifies the most important issues with the challenges and constructive solutions identified.

Sustainable development

The report identifies nine “Concurrent Requirements for Achieving Sustainability”, including “Sustainable Design and Implementation Practices” and the establishment of a “Technology Roadmap”. Progress must be made on all nine to reach a sustainable society − failures in any one will preclude overall success.

Economics, urbanisation & infrastructure

Governments are recognising the need to invest in infrastructure, but not the need to fund maintenance, upgrading and asset management. The public purse cannot fully fund this − new forms of public-private partnership will probably have to evolve. Project financing methods will have to be innovative.

Energy resources

There has been a slowing of investment in new energy infrastructure despite rising energy demand. Engineers must promote energy efficiency and the use of smart technology, and work to pursue carbon capture and sequestration (CSS). Carbon pricing systems will help us move towards non-CO2 emitting energy sources.

Waste and waste management

Population growth and urbanisation will bring tremendous growth in waste production. We must formulate solutions that comply with the challenges of climate change and global energy demands. Engineers must strive to improve energy-from-waste systems and to promote life cycle assessments of technologies.

Water and wastewater

Capital expenditure on water infrastructure is significantly lower than the amount required. Climate change and a shortfall in engineering graduates − especially in developing countries − will make the situation more difficult. Alternative supply sources, consumer conservation measures and energy efficient domestic technologies are promising solutions.

Transport

Different transport modes need to be better interconnected to facilitate multi-modal journeys. Road use should be optimised through use of technology systems for road management. Airport expansion is increasingly contentious due to climate change, and in developing countries airport growth is constrained by the limitations of the construction industry. Engineers will be instrumental in finding longterm solutions.

Buildings and built environment

Energy efficiency should become a primary driver in construction. The design life of buildings and structures is typically too short to achieve sustainability. Adaptive re-use of structures (whether the whole structure or its component parts) is desirable, and planning for future re-use should become a core requirement for building design. Legislation, innovative building solutions and energy efficiency will be vital.

Disaster risk mitigation and adaptation

Engineers must develop mitigation initiatives and find innovative solutions by exploring shifts in paradigms. We must work with nature rather than against it. Technological solutions alone will be insufficient − we must also interact with society to communicate the importance of preparedness for a response to disaster.

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