UK SECRETARY OF State for international development Clare Short has become the first active minister to accept an Honorary Fel lowship of the ICE.
Short was inducted and signed up to her Fellowship at an ICE meeting 'Engineering the way out of poverty'.
Short said 'It is a great privilege to be made an Honorary Fellow of your Institution. I have always admired engineers. They were the driving force behind the industrial revolution in our own country and through their pioneering work on the provision of drinking water and sanitation in the 19th century, they made a tremendous difference to the health of our citizens.'
Short urged civil engineers to use their skills to tackle poverty in developing countries. She outlined the three targets set out in the White Paper published when the new Labour government came to power:
To halve the proportion of people living in extreme poverty by 2015;
To achieve universal primary education and appropriate health care;
To reverse the downward trend of environmental degredation;
Short pointed out that there was still a long way to go.
The minister called for more private investment: 'Investment in infrastructure must come from the private sector in the future. We (the Department for International Development) have been working to see how we can encourage this and there is now a new public-private advisory system in the World Bank to advise governments of the best ways to attract investments in their country's infrastructure.'
Short also stressed the need to train local engineers in developing countries. 'Sustainable development relies on there being appropriately trained and motivated local people, not simply expatriates brought in to solve problems in the short term.'
Short commended the ICE for its commitment to working with DFID. 'Shortly after I took up my job, I was approached by various engineering institutions and the Royal Academy of Engineers to see how they might work with us to eliminate poverty.
'I have to say that the ICE is still the only professional group that has taken this initiative (forward) and I am extremely grateful for the efforts being made by your profession.'
Also making presentations at the conference were director of Water Aid, Ravi Narayanan, director of the Register of Engineers for Disaster Relief Bobby Lambert, trustee of the Telford Challenge Tony Roche and members of the British Consultants Bureau.