International consulting engineers this week challenged governments around the world to start to take the issue of climate change seriously and start to invest in sustainable infrastructure solutions.
Speaking at the 2009 FIDIC annual Conference in London, FIDIC president John Boyd said that many of the global challenges facing society were “well within the remit” of engineers and urged the profession to persuade clients and government to invest in sustainable solutions.
“Our interface with society is changing so that our responsibilities now extend beyond our clients to society,” explained Boyd. “We have to look beyond the limits of our programmes in terms of the impacts on society. Our successes will have a profound effect on our species.”
“Our interface with society is changing so that our responsibilities now extend beyond our clients to society.”
John Boyd, FIDIC
The 2009 FIDIC conference “Global challenges: Sustainable solutions” brought together over 600 engineers from around the world to discuss the challenges facing modern infrastructure designers. Critically the conference also set out to seek actions for the profession to take forward.
“There is no doubt about the scale of the challenge we face,” Association for Consultancy & Engineering chairman and Scott Wilson chairman Geoff French said. “The solutions must be implemented globally and be sustainable. We need to learn from the good things that we do but also identify what hasn’t worked.”
The scale of the challenge
FIDIC also used the conference to launch its new State of the World report underlining the scale of the challenge facing nations worldwide when constructing, upgrading and maintaining infrastructure required for an ever-expanding population.
The conference comes just three months ahead of the critical COP15 climate change summit in Copenhagen this December and is therefore seen as an ideal platform for ensuring the views of the engineering consulting profession are passed on to world leaders.
“We should be demanding that there is an agreement [reached at Copenhagen].”
Keith Clarke, Atkins
“The issue that we should be demanding is that there is an agreement [reached at Copenhagen],” said Keith Clarke, Atkins chief executive and chairman of the Construction Industry Council
“Our role is to demand an accord that they pay attention to and not [allow leaders to] say it’s all too difficult.”
He added: “It’s fundamental. If enough intelligent people say we need the agreement then it could happen.”
The next 10 years were critical, he told delegates, and said engineers had to start taking action even before they knew all the answers. “We need a process over the next 10 years of getting it increasingly right.”
- A full report of the FIDIC conference, its outcomes and actions will be published in NCE on 1 October.