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Last edited 30 Mar 2022
Vernon Harcourt Lecture 2022
As it stands, entire economies still revolve around fossil fuels, with people around the world relying on them for not just their livelihoods but also their way of life. Making the switch to a sustainable way of living won’t happen overnight, but green infrastructure can play a huge part in creating a cleaner, greener, healthier world.
As we look forward to COP27 for climate and COP15 for biodiversity, the debate about whether COP26 was a success continues. We, as engineers, are a community of professionals that is uniquely placed to do something positive. This is as exciting and rewarding as it is demanding.
We must safeguard the globe’s precious resources, creating balanced outcomes against the UN Sustainable Development Goals. We have a duty to ensure, to the best of our ability, that the infrastructure we deliver for our clients will be resilient to the impacts of climate change from wildfires, drought, extremes of temperature (freezing conditions to heat domes) to flooding. But resilience is just part of it, we also have need to factor in carbon reduction, making a conscious effort to reduce the amount we are locking in, both in construction and operation.
Not knowing exactly what’s needed to fight climate change isn’t a reason to delay action, a sustainability expert has argued. “It’s okay not to have all the answers at the outset. If you’ve got a vision and know where you want to go, just make a start,” said Sally Sudworth, global head of sustainability and climate change at Mott MacDonald.
The lecture, Flood-risk Management – a Just Transition to a Climate Resilient Future, linked engineering activities to the increase in climate disasters.Sudworth, who also spoke at COP26 last year, encouraged the audience to find ways they can contribute to climate action, personally and professionally.Before the lecture, attendees were asked whether they felt able to deliver resilient and sustainable infrastructure.
At the start, 52% said yes. By the end of the event, and following the speakers' calls to action, this figure had increased to 76%.
 Discussing the attitudes towards climate change and net zero
They fielded questions from the audience about developing a specific framework for the water sector and whether net zero is achievable by construction firms.They also discussed the socio-political aspects of a just transition to net zero, and how engineers can use lived experience to build better.
Taka and Chan echoed Sudworth’s call for engineers to take action.
“Take this as a personal challenge and hold yourself accountable,” said Taka.
 Picking up momentum
 Get involved
To support the ICE in its commitment to sustainability and tackling climate change, apply to get involved in the Knowledge Networks. These are groups set up to identify and address key infrastructure challenges facing the profession.
- BRE flood resilient repair project.
- Building flood resilience.
- Catchment flood management plan.
- Changing attitudes to property flood resilience in the UK.
- Coastal defences.
- Dam construction.
- Elevated construction.
- Fighting flooding in the 21st century.
- Flash flood.
- Flood and Water Management Act.
- Flood defences.
- Flood Insurance.
- Flood level.
- Flood mapping key to future development in Wales.
- Flood plain.
- Flood recoverability.
- Flood resilience.
- Flood resistance.
- Flood risk assessment.
- Flood risk.
- Flood risk management plan.
- Flood warning system.
- Flood zone.
- Future flood prevention.
- Future Water, The Government’s water strategy for England.
- Natural flood management.
- Planning for floods.
- Property flood resilience.
- Submersible bridge.
- Sustainable urban drainage systems.
- Temporary flood defences.
- Ten years on - Lessons from the Flood on building resilience.
- Types of flood.
- Water engineering.
- Water table.
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