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Holistic approach to sustainability needed

The engineering profession must be part of the solution to global infrastructure issues and not the problem. Sustainable Development Commission chair Will Day made the statement at the ICE/Halcrow Sustainability lecture.

He said that traditionally the engineering profession had built global infrastructure in response to the demands of society at the time. Day stressed the urgency for a new, more sustainable approach.

He said: “We find ourselves on an unsustainable path and I fear the term ‘sustainable development’ is becoming jargon. It must be about how we do things now − this is just as important as what we do.

“Water engineering is a perfect example. For engineers it is no longer just about pipes and pumps, but learning and understanding about the different sets of skills required for different solutions and recognising all the interconnectivities.

“The implications of such change on the engineering profession are huge but I know engineers are already very thoughtful on this.”

On climate change, Day said: “a massive response was required to a massive set of circumstances − but we need to change the perception that a low carbon economy will be a much worse place to be. There has been a collective failure to articulate a low carbon future attractively.”

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