“We are pleased to announce these commitments and join other organisations in leading the way on urgently tackling climate change,” stated Alexandre L’Heureux, WSP’s President and Chief Executive Officer. Through this net zero pledge, WSP will also join the Race to Zero, which brings together a coalition of leading net zero initiatives, to build momentum around the shift to a decarbonised economy ahead of COP26, the 26th United Nations Climate Change conference taking place later this year.
“The net zero announcement and promise are well aligned to our ethos as an organisation,” said Mathieu du Plooy, Managing Director for WSP in Africa. “Our 2020 Global ESG Report, for example, demonstrates our ongoing efforts to accelerate meaningful change and we are already reporting 43% clean revenue – defined as revenues earned from services that have a positive impact on the environment and support the UN SDGs – across our international business. We have also been recognised by World Finance Magazine as an ESG leader for the third year in a row.”
Of course, for WSP in Africa to contribute to achieving net zero, it must take into account local nuance for the African-based business. “With heavy dependence on fossil fuel-based power generation, high unemployment rates and the critical importance of the mining, manufacturing and other industrial sectors to both employment opportunities and GDP/economic contribution overall, some might argue that we have more pressing issues to worry about,” du Plooy said, “however we disagree with that.”
Du Plooy believes that the transition to a low-emissions society can create opportunities to address the socio-economic challenges for a number of markets across Africa. “For example, we know that addressing the ageing building stock, and ensuring green building principles are applied to new developments, is a key area in terms of cutting emissions. By leveraging energy retrofits and applying green and efficient energy designs to new builds, we can rapidly create easily accessible jobs, cut emissions and provide more liveable cities,” he pointed out.
“We’ve seen other developing countries like Chile take advantage of the decarbonisation agenda to drive domestic renewable energy initiatives and create jobs and business opportunities,” he adds. “Climate change plays a lesser part compared to the improvements in living standards for Chileans, but the result in terms of emissions is the same. And the challenges faced in African markets are not that dissimilar that we couldn’t adopt similar thinking.”
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said, during the third formal meeting of the Presidential Climate Commission (PCC), that a just transition – one that takes the interests of our people into account – offers our country a great opportunity for innovation and investment into the green economy. In other words, the transition can create much-needed jobs if it is inclusive and incorporates planning to ensure that those whose livelihoods depend on cheap and plentiful hydrocarbon-based energy are not left behind.
“So, for WSP in Africa, the drive to achieving net zero is about more than our own omissions; it’s about being a responsible corporate citizen and bringing our engineering and environmental expertise to bear in all the markets we operate in, where we can help to drive the transition,” du Plooy says. “That means working with our clients to further their transition agendas as well, bringing energy efficiency and environmental sustainability into all our projects.”
WSP is one of the leading environmental consulting firms in Africa. It has been involved in several renewable energy projects, including solar and wind power generation, and is a founding member of the Green Building Council of South Africa.
“Helping our clients reduce their emissions has been, and remains, a primary objective of our work, both for environmental reasons and to promote positive social impact. We believe that embedding our Future Ready® approach throughout our project delivery process has the potential to make a significant contribution to climate change mitigation,” du Plooy concludes.
WSP in Africa is hiring! To find out more about available opportunities check out the Careers page on the website or look out for updates on LinkedIn, @WSPinAfrica.
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As one of the world's leading professional services firms, WSP provides engineering and design services to clients in the Transportation & Infrastructure, Property & Buildings, Environment, Power & Energy, Resources and Industry sectors, as well as offering strategic advisory services. WSP's global experts include engineers, advisors, technicians, scientists, architects, planners, environmental specialists and surveyors, in addition to other design, program and construction management professionals. Our talented people are well positioned to deliver successful and sustainable projects, wherever clients need us. For more information about WSP, please visit www.wsp.com.
WSP is a proud Level 1 B-BBEE contributor in South Africa.