NEW YORK — One year on from the formation of the International Coalition for Sustainable Infrastructure (ICSI), the ICSI Virtual Symposium brought together its founding members — WSP, American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) and ASCE Foundation, The Resilience Shift and the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate & Energy (GCoM) — along with new partners, to review progress made in the first year and set the agenda for the year ahead.
Reinforcing the Coalition’s progress, the UK-based Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) president and WSP senior vice president, Rachel Skinner, reiterated the announcement from her inaugural presidential address that ICE is joining ICSI, with both organizations putting engineers at the heart of climate action, sustainable infrastructure and building resilience.
Formed to identify the biggest barriers to infrastructure climate adaptation and resilience and to understand how the engineering community could act as a catalyst for sustainable action, ICSI shared the progress of its Action Tracks, along with keynote presentations on the work being done to set the resilience and net zero agenda ahead of COP26.
The board members for each of the founding organizations each had a speaking role, including Tom Lewis as the ICSI board member for WSP who led the closing agenda element and related discussion and questions on “Building Toward Our Vision of the Future.”
These speakers were joined by guest speakers:
- Rachel Skinner, President, Institution of Civil Engineers and Senior VP, WSP
- Meredith Adler, Executive Director, Student Energy
- Gonzalo Muñoz, Chile COP 26 High-Level Climate Champion
- Nigel Topping, UK COP 26 High-Level Climate Champion
As President of the ICE organization with a global community of over 95,000 built environment professionals, Skinner walked attendees through why she has made the role of engineers to achieve net zero the singular focus of her presidency.
Coalition building and innovation was also the theme of Student Energy Executive Director, Meredith Adler’s keynote. Meredith outlined the progress Student Energy has made building up a network of 50,000 young people from over 120 countries to generate innovative energy solutions and train the next generation of energy leaders. Student Energy is set to collaborate with ICSI partners and governments to continue the work on energy innovation, particularly involving youth from around the globe.
COP-26 High Level Champions, Nigel Topping (UK) and Gonzalo Muñoz (Chile), led attendees through the work they are doing to build a global coalition of businesses, government and advocacy organizations on the net-zero carbon goal.
Speaking at the time of the ongoing ‘Race to Zero Dialogues,’ organized by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the High-Level Champions said ICSI was uniquely placed to help realize net-zero and climate resilience as engineers were natural problem solvers. Nigel and Gonzalo agreed there was a need for engineers to avoid letting a risk adverse mindset hamper innovation.
Summing up the motivation for change, Topping said, “People need to be inspired — they are creating an exciting future they can be proud of and it is engineers who will build that".
ICSI action track leaders updated attendees on progress made across the Coalition’s innovation, funding and finance, leadership and whole-of-life costs, and guidance, tools and standards tracks since they were launched in April 2020. While work on communicating the technical aspects of the ICSI action tracks continues, there are already success stories:
- The City Climate Finance Gap Fund, launched by GCoM and its major partners in September, looks to bring in engineering and technical experts to advise in the early stages of infrastructure funding proposals to ensure that resilience and sustainability are ‘baked in’.
- The Climate Resilient Infrastructure Guidance Project, developed by The Resilience Shift, will be working in partnership with ICSI over 2021 through to COP26 to create a framework for resilience across the value chain for infrastructure systems. By doing this it will build on and connect infrastructure guidance initiatives that already exist, reducing fragmentation by promoting systems thinking across all parties.
ICSI can build off a strong first year to deliver on their mission to make resilience and sustainability a cornerstone of every decision in the infrastructure lifecycle in every community around the globe. With stimulus spending now a priority for governments around the world the opportunities to promote best practice in infrastructure project planning and funding make the ICSI mission even more pertinent.
About WSP USA
WSP USA is the U.S. operating company of WSP, one of the world's leading engineering and professional services firms. Dedicated to serving local communities, we are engineers, planners, technical experts, strategic advisors and construction management professionals. WSP USA designs lasting solutions in the buildings, transportation, energy, water and environment markets. With more than 10,000 employees in 170 offices across the U.S., we partner with our clients to help communities prosper. wsp.com
The International Coalition for Sustainable Infrastructure is committed to driving practical sustainable infrastructure solutions to combat the effects of climate change around the globe. It aims to identify and address the biggest barriers to action and break down silos that have contributed to our collective failure to adapt and mitigate. Its shared vision is to engineer a more sustainable, just and resilient future by mobilizing a global engineering-led multidisciplinary, multi-sector coalition to make resilience and sustainability a cornerstone of every decision in the infrastructure lifecycle. https://sustainability-coalition.org/
Download press release