As the Head of Resilience and Climate Change Adaptation at Sydney Water, Engineers Australia member Penny Joseph MIEAust is responsible for leading a range of programs designed to help the utility be more resilient to a diverse range of challenges.
An engineer with an MBA, Joseph joined Sydney Water in 2013 as a Business Planning Manager having previously worked in several transformational roles in the solar and aerospace industries.
She will speak about the complexity of climate change, the advantage of taking a multi-disciplinary approach and why the contribution of engineers is important at the Climate Smart Engineering conference in November
“When it comes to climate change, there are a lot of moving parts. Climate change will impact everything from droughts to coastal inundation,” she said.
“The complexity comes from a variety of places — political contexts, plausible climate futures, asset investment cycles, financing, technology changes, multi-disciplinary approaches, and the community.
“These wicked problems are not easy to solve, and you often need to experiment and break them down in order to progress.”
She will also deal with turning climate change from crisis to opportunity.
“It’s important to offer hope for the future, because without hope, you really don’t have anything,” she said.
“How do we reframe climate change adaptation from being something that costs you money to being something that makes you money?
“In the water industry, like many others, there’s significant opportunities to create new businesses, because of the changing context.”
An example is Sydney Water’s partnership with Jemena on a biomethane project. From 2022, Sydney Water will generate zero carbon emissions and create high-quality biomethane gas from its wastewater processes to meet the gas demand of 6300 houses.
Joseph will draw on her experiences at Sydney Water, where she oversees projects on climate change adaptation, as well as broader issues of resilience and emergency management.
“What’s interesting about my role is I have to take a short-term view and a longer term view,” she said.
“The combination of those two things is actually quite interesting because you can learn and iterate.”
Joseph hopes that fellow engineers can join her in having faith that it is possible to find solutions to manage global warming.
“People, including engineers, can freeze when they’re under stress — I prefer them to see the opportunity, what we can create and how we can break problems down to take action,” she said.
“Engineering in the next few decades is going to be really interesting.” she said.
To hear more from Penny Joseph, don’t miss her presentation at the Climate Smart Engineering conference.