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Last edited 30 Aug 2020
Sustainable Development Goals and the triple bottom line
Sustainability could and should be seen as the biggest opportunity for business. As stated by Isabelle Linden during her keynote address at the Major Projects Association annual conference, sustainability can bring an additional US$12 trillion revenue per annum to the global economy.
There are many opportunities available. However, the question we should all be asking ourselves is which side of history do we want to be on?
 A need to change business models
A wide range of industries, including infrastructure and the built environment, are slowly realising the need to change their business models to grasp benefits across the value chain, moving from a linear model to a circular model.
Many questions remain:
- How to create a business case for the triple bottom line? (social, environmental and economic)?
- How to design with circular and sustainability in mind?
- How to plan, design, deliver, manage and decommission infrastructure to minimise its negative impacts and maximise its economic, societal and environmental benefits?
First, it is necessary to understand the scale of the problem. This is why the ICE gathered a very diverse cohort of engineers for the Global Engineering Congress (GEC) last year, which resulted in the creation of three workstreams constituting the Sustainability Route Map:
- Education and capacity building.
- Systems approach.
- Measuring, monitoring and reporting impact on SDGs at project level.
The research prior to and after the congress clearly showed a need to fill the perceived gap with a framework and a set of guiding principles. These would enable engineers to collect the relevant data to demonstrate how their project will be delivering long-term outcomes.
It is apparent that more time and investment must be spent during the very early stages of the project initiation phase to clearly define project success and move away from short-term focus to long-term environmental, social and economic benefits.
Paul Mansell, major projects advisor and PhD researcher, was the instigator of the research behind the suggested impact value chain model as a method to effectively define project success. It uses systems of systems theories, log frames and other guidance tools to determine what a project’s long-term outcome will be and ensure data can be collected to measure its impact.
 MPA SDG prioritisation workshop
Due to their extensive work in this area, Paul and ICE were invited to run a workshop as part of the MPA annual conference dedicated to sustainability and the circular economy. The fully immersive workshop supports project teams to determine how the SDG Impact Value Chain (IVC) can help define a project’s successful SDG impacts.
It allows the participants to play a role at the start of a project with other stakeholders to determine which SDG global goals are relevant for them and to identify a few key targets to measure against.
- What are the drivers for reporting SDGs at organisation and /or project level?
- What are the priority SDGs for your business / project?
- Where are the gaps and what do we need to do as project teams to deliver on the SDGs?
- Doing the project right (during delivery) and its outcomes (post-delivery).
- Setting criteria to validate water/sanitation projects.
 Join the discussion
Readers who would like to join the discussion or have some suggestions to enable the shift that is needed, are kindly asked to contact uk [email protected]uk to share their stories on how they are improving sustainability.
 About this article
 Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki
- An interpretation of the SDG's for use at an infrastructure project level.
- Climate Change Act.
- Climate change science.
- COP21 Paris 2015.
- Culture: Urban Future.
- Environmental policy.
- Globe temperature.
- Interactive CEEQUAL and Sustainable Development Goals mapping.
- Kyoto Protocol.
- QSAND and the Sustainable Development Goals.
- Research and development in disaster response.
- Sustainable Development Goals and civil engineering.
- What has the UK done about carbon reduction since the Paris Agreement?
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