While the SDG’s predecessor, the Millennium Development Goals, were mainly aimed at governments and into developing countries, the SDGs are both global and aimed at government, business and non-governmental organisations alike.
Engineers have a key role to play in SDG Delivery
169 separate targets is a long, disparate and ambitious list. But six of these have been identified by researchers as essential to support delivery of the others. And engineers have a lead role to play in four of these key targets.
No country has developed without access to reliable and affordable energy. Access to safe water and sanitation is critical for healthy development. Effective, resilient transport and industry is essential to deliver productive growth.
Engineers must do more than just deliver the core projects
At the simplest level, sound delivery of transport, energy and safe water and sanitation projects is the core of what engineers do, so just in this alone, engineers support the delivery of the SDGs.
But beyond the core scheme design – the projects our clients pay us to deliver – engineers must do more to play a full part. Engineers need to design all of work with a view, not just for today, but also for the future as well. This ambition is crucial, so that schemes are reliable and resilient for tomorrow’s climate, society, technology and resources, supporting the long-term nature of the SDGs and recognising that many of the roads, power plants and buildings we design today will be there for decades. Our research shows that if schemes are designed to ‘standard’ design codes today, then they’ll be delivered to cover some future trends, but not all. Our research also shows that the total cost of ownership for flexible, adaptable, future ready schemes is lower than the traditional designs which are less flexible.
Are we Future Ready?
This innovative thinking goes to the heart of our WSP Future Ready programme; seeing the future more clearly and working with clients to design for this future as well as for today’s. And this approach is delivering results. Our UK Sustainability report for 2017, in which we align our own sustainability and corporate social responsibility activities with the SDGs, features a selection of the many projects for which we’ve delivered better outcomes by applying a Future Ready perspective. Our colleagues tell us they love the fresh challenge that Future Ready provides them with as well – being at the heart of designing a future ready, prosperous, resilient and sustainable society.
We’ve still got plenty to do. There’s still much work to be done on next generation designs which are super flexible and adaptable. There’s an enormous job to be done to adapt our existing infrastructure to the very substantial climate challenges which will begin to appear after 2050. But we’re making progress.
This blog was written by David Symons, UK Director of Sustainability, WSP