Rachel is the youngest president in the ICE’s 200-year history and is only the second woman to hold the role.
Having served as an ICE Vice President and then Senior Vice President, Rachel succeeded Paul Sheffield as President of the ICE on Tuesday 3 November 2020 for a term of one year.
In her live-streamed inauguration ceremony today – the largest in ICE history and with a completely reinvented format – she set out the theme of her presidency and the direction of her leadership for the coming year.
Rachel chose to share the virtual stage with a stellar cast including a world-renowned explorer, leading influencers, engineers, innovators and scientists, and even serving Mayors from across the world.
Rachel’s singular focus for the year will be on the climate emergency and the vital role that civil engineers must play in achieving net zero carbon emissions. With 70% of today’s emissions caused by infrastructure assets and their everyday use – largely energy, buildings and transport – the responsibility and opportunity for civil engineers is clear.
Rachel Skinner, President of the Institution of Civil Engineers and Executive Director at WSP, said: “Reducing and then managing carbon emissions to a position where we can achieve a genuine net zero balance will be the challenge that defines most, if not all, civil engineers’ careers over the next 30 years. As a profession, we have played a proud role in enabling growth and connectivity over the last 200 years, but today we stand responsible for designing and building the assets that generate and enable a huge majority of the world’s carbon emissions, which are the primary cause of climate change.
“While there is progress to report in reducing carbon emissions, particularly from the energy sector over the last decade, it is not nearly enough. We must now plan, design, build and operate our infrastructure systems to ensure projects are sustainable and compatible with a net zero future. There is much work to be done through 2021, particularly as the UK looks forward to hosting COP26 next year.”
The ICE has 95,000 members across the world and is a driving force behind professional qualifications, education, ethics and standards for engineering globally, as well as pushing forward the interests of engineers with government, industry and academia.
Rachel will continue in her role at WSP and has been at the firm for 22 years, joining as a graduate in 1998 and progressing through numerous acquisitions. Rachel is renowned for her expertise in transport planning and remains instrumental in shaping future mobility strategy in the UK and beyond, having also played a key role in delivering the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic route networks and the early stages of major schemes including the Lower Thames Crossing earlier in her career.
Rachel Skinner continued: “To become President of the ICE is the most prestigious honour a civil engineer can achieve in their career and I’m so excited to start my tenure. My thanks must go to Paul Sheffield, as outgoing President, for his guidance and leadership, and to WSP for the support and encouragement I have received from colleagues throughout my career.
“Civil engineers should take front and centre stage in this challenge; I ask every ICE member – and beyond that every one of the millions of civil engineers across the world – to consider how they can be part of the solution to net zero carbon. Visible efforts to tackle this challenge head-on will be irresistible to the brightest young talent of tomorrow, especially those who are keen to choose careers that make a real difference to our collective future.”
Mark Naysmith, WSP UK Chief Executive, said: “I’m delighted and very proud that Rachel is the new President of the ICE. As a Fellow of the Institution myself, it’s fantastic to see such a close and passionate colleague taking on this important role, helping shape the future direction of the ICE and influencing the critical subject matter of a net zero carbon environment. I know she’ll excel in the role and wish her luck, with the support of her network of friends and colleagues around her.
“WSP’s global reach complements the ICE’s and I believe this is where Rachel will bring much value to the role. The climate emergency and achieving net zero carbon is a global challenge, not just the UK’s, and I’m confident Rachel’s leadership will garner international support and action.”
Dan Williams, UK PR Manager, WSP
[email protected] / 07341 681 673