Responding to climate change is wickedly complex, which is why engineering more sustainable tech and systems is only half the battle.
As momentum on meaningful climate action builds, it is becoming increasingly clear that reaching our goals depends upon an unprecedented degree of collaboration.
Solar Victoria CEO Stan Krpan sees the trend playing out both on an individual and an industry level.
“I see that in professions like engineering those that are succeeding the most are the ones who are not just technically competent but also have a really broad worldview as well,” he says.
“It’s those that read broadly and educate themselves, and put themselves at the intersection with other professions or disciplines, so they can learn from others and keep pace with the speed of change.”
Krpan says the same trend is also at play in the success or otherwise of organisations such as Solar Victoria, tasked with dramatically increasing the number of Victorian homes using renewable energy.
“We’re not out there in the market doing installations but instead we are influencing and shaping the market, and developing the workforce to power it. So we pride ourselves on being really well connected and a good partner for the industry,” he says.
For Krpan, this means fostering trusted relationships with key stakeholders.
“Having built relationships and trust, it makes it easier to pick up the phone and get insights in a really dynamic market. Or to ask for support when you need it too,” he says.
Krpan says that is why he sees events such as the November’s Climate Smart Engineering Conference so powerful for leaders.
“By attending these sorts of events, you’re often creating intersections that are more organic,” he says.
“And those intersections, which can sometimes be a little bit random, can cause you to think about your work in a different way, or create a connection that you might not have thought of.”
By bringing together practicing engineers and senior decision makers from government, industry and academia, the event will serve as one of the year’s primary arenas for sparking and fostering the relationships that will help engineers lead efforts to respond to climate change.
Jorge Chapa, Chief Impact Officer at the Green Building Council Australia, says for leaders such as himself the networking potential is at least as important as the speakers and ideas being discussed.
“It’s so valuable, particularly after coming out of COVID, to be able to rebuild relationships where you haven’t had as much face-to-face interaction as you usually would,” he says.
“We just had our own conference and I was able to meet a large number of people in person for the first time, and that is so beneficial in continuing to build the relationships that help us deliver the solutions we need.”
“There’s no replacement for those personal relationships when you’re trying to work with others to bring them together and build a consensus.”
CSE23 will highlight projects and case studies from a wide range of sectors, including the renewable energy and water sectors, and the transport, infrastructure, mining and manufacturing industries.
These will be profiled at the conference, providing opportunities for delegates to learn about advancements in their industries and in others that may have application to their own.
Engineers Australia CEO Romilly Madew AO says CSE23 will bring influential policy makers, industry, and corporate leaders together in person, sparking new connections and deepening existing relationships.
“Engineers Australia’s flagship event is a significant opportunity for organisations to come together and discuss the latest in world-leading views on climate action, boosting the circular economy and upholding the principles of sustainable practices to mitigate, adapt and deliver on new technologies for a clean fuel and energy future,” she says.
Systems thinking, regeneration business and social management are themes being investigated at CSE alongside the more traditional technology and innovation, resilience, adaptation and mitigation topics covered at previous CSE iterations.
The circular economy and the energy transition will also feature strongly at the conference and will be the main topics of the plenary sessions, where the emphasis will focus on acceleration and timely adaptation and transition.
Finance, skills shortages, the indigenous perspective, projects, accelerators and other important business topics will also strongly feature in the plenary sessions.
Although the main conference is on November 29-30, CSE23 will be officially launched on Tuesday May 23 at the Grand Hyatt Melbourne. The launch event is an early opportunity for senior decision makers to connect and reconnect.
To learn more about how your organisation can get involved, email Engineers Australia National Corporate Engagement Manager Amanda Rodgers.