“We need to dream to drive a greener future”

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The trillion-dollar global investment challenge can shift the dial to drive more sustainable infrastructure solutions.

FIDIC’s first 2021 State of the World report, Time to $Tn-vest, recommends that a renewed and massive global effort is undertaken to improve infrastructure spending to meet the investment challenge facing the world. This would amount to a doubling of current infrastructure investment to at least $7 trillion and presents some major opportunities for the engineering and construction sector.

Tracey Ryan, managing director of Aurecon, New Zealand and the chair of FIDIC’s sustainable development committee, believes that far from being deterred by such large investment numbers, her industry should grasp the opportunity of influencing a real step change towards sustainable infrastructure spending that has the potential to transform the world.

“The trillion-dollar infrastructure challenge has opportunity written all over it,” she says. “As an industry, we have an amazing opportunity to shift the dial on sustainability by directing the investment towards more sustainable infrastructure solutions.

“For infrastructure owners, the opportunity is to think about the legacy you want to leave from this infrastructure boom. The speed of investment and economic recovery necessary will provide a temptation to simply do things how we’ve always done them. But engineers are entrepreneurs, problem solvers and inventors. All we require is sufficient time, latitude and the right policy framework and solutions can be redefined, new options can be identified which take us towards a more sustainable, net zero future.” said Ryan.

Aurecon New Zealand’s managing director says that the scale of the challenge may be large, but the engineering industry needs to rise to it to play its part in one of the key issues facing the planet. “We need to dream, we need to believe, we need to push to make our voices heard and be creative with solutions that drive a better future,” says Ryan. “It’s all within our hands and we need to grasp the opportunity for the sake of future generations,” she says.

Ryan is also looking forward to FIDIC’s sustainable development committee playing a crucial role in the global discussion, debate and actions around climate change. “Environmental sustainability is one of the most important issues facing our planet and I believe that engineers play a vital role in helping our governments and communities tackle this complex challenge,” she says.

“A key aim of our committee going forward will be to assess the potential impact of climate change and provide a meaningful forum for consulting engineers to share ideas on how they can enable mitigation, adaptation and resilience to climate change and develop and maintain buildings and infrastructure assets that are truly sustainable in the broadest possible way,” says Ryan.