Engineers hold many of the solutions needed to tackle climate change and achieve the United Nations’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). But championing these projects requires an ability to clearly demonstrate their value in economic terms.
A panel of experts will discuss this at an Engineers Australia webinar celebrating World Engineering Day (WED) for Sustainable Development on 4 March.
Chaired by Engineers Australia Non-Executive Director Lucia Cade FIEAust CPEng, the event will also consider the 2022 WED theme: “build back wiser, engineering the future”.
“To me, ‘build back wiser’ means appreciating that all the actions we take are interconnected, and acknowledging we therefore need solutions and decision-making frameworks that can deal with this interconnectedness,” Cade said.
“We will explore how we can engineer our way to a more sustainable world, demonstrate value in speeding up the transformation that is needed, and help businesses and industries make investments to achieve better outcomes.”
It is prudent to work towards greater environmental and social sustainability as these become increasingly important to customers, employees and investors, Cade said.
“Companies and whole industries are thinking about their impact on a lifecycle scale, from cradle to grave, within their own operations and also up and down the supply chain,” she said.
“It is not just due to regulation and government policy, both of which lag. It is because it is strategically important to long-term success.”
The lifecycle of an asset is extremely important to Engineers Australia member Nicole Brown MIEAust, who will join Cade on the panel. A structural engineer at AECOM, Brown is conscious that the infrastructure she designs and builds will have a lasting legacy.
“Nicole is committed to that legacy being sustainable, through things like working with clients to use more sustainable materials and designs that include liveability elements,” Cade said.
“As a young professional, societal fairness matters to her, as does equitable access to resources like education. She wants to be part of a profession, and an organisation, that contributes these things to society.”
Climate Change and Sustainability Services Partner at EY, Engineers Australia Fellow and Chartered engineer Terence Jeyaretnam FIEAust CPEng will also appear on the panel. He has seen a desire among investors to move rapidly towards more sustainable investments.
“As an engineer, Terence knows we bring the insights of what is possible, of potential technology and design options and what they might cost,” Cade said.
“This is essential for transforming the economy post-COVID to one that is built on innovation and ingenuity [and] that gets us to net zero without overspending our global carbon budget.”
Rounding out the panel is Brett Mitsch MIEAust, Managing Director at Steam Plains Capital, who will discuss the full lifecycle costs of the assets he invests in.
“Brett knows that investors … need the input from engineers to be able to properly evaluate their investment decisions,” Cade said. “To quantify and qualify what goes into the financial model so the asset is investable and bankable.
“Here are three mindsets that are big enough and thoughtful enough to handle the interconnectedness of the UN Sustainable Development Goals and the role that we engineers play in a sustainable future. I am really looking forward to the conversation with them on World Engineering Day 2022.”
Don’t miss Engineers Australia’s free World Engineering Day webinar at 12.00 pm AEDT on Friday, 4 March.