As we approach the festive season, I have been thinking that we often hear about global challenges. Climate change and global warning usually comes towards the top of the list. This is because of the need to tackle the rising global temperature caused by greenhouse gases and principally through the burning of fossil fuels and the resulting carbon dioxide emissions.
Indeed, the United Nations (UN) Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has warned that we only have about 10 years remaining to ensure the global temperature does not exceed a 1.5°C increase, which if it does, could lead to a range of serious consequences for the world, including greater risks of floods and drought as well as more extremes of weather and further negative consequences. But there are other global challenges too. An increasing trend of people migrating to cities and the resulting overcrowding and other social issues. The rising cost of healthcare. The need to become more sustainable and reduce the amount of waste generated by society. The list goes on.
On this matter, the UN has set out the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). These global goals were adopted by all member states of the UN in 2015, and they can be regarded as a universal call of action for countries and people to work together in order to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure all people can live a healthy and peaceful life by 2030. There are 17 SDGs, ranging from ‘Goal 1: End poverty in all its forms everywhere’, through to ‘Goal 17: Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development’. The figure bellow provides an overview of the SDGs.
The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – courtesy of the United Nations
The question is, why have I started this newsletter introduction with a discussion of global challenges and the SDGs? The answer is that achieving these goals will of course require many actions, and by many people, but there will also be many cases and situations where engineering managers and the discipline of engineering management can help. This could be through, for instance, using systems engineering to improve our understanding of the move to a circular economy as well as the need for more renewable forms of energy. Or devising techno-economic models to measure the performance of carbon capture, utilization and storage (CCUS), and understanding how to manage large infrastructure projects more sustainably. As engineering managers, including researchers, students and practitioners, we are developing the supporting knowledge, tools and techniques to work alongside others and tackle the SDGs head-on. Although these global goals are certainly challenges they can also represent opportunities that we can pursue through applying our engineering management knowledge and tools.
Finally, as we head towards the festive period, I hope that you can all have some time with family and friends. Where possible spend time away from the daily pressures of work and other commitments, so that you can be rested and recharged to tackle the challenges and goals for 2020.
Simon Philbin, ASEM President