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Gerald Lacey Lecture 2023: using the SDGs to improve the design & performance of water projects

Event organised by The Irrigation and Water Forum

02 May 2023

This event has now ended

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Join this year’s Gerald Lacey lecture, where ICE President, Keith Howells will discuss the reasoning for including the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UNSDGs) in the planning and design of water sector projects and highlight examples of how the application of this approach has improved specific projects in being more inclusive and sustainable, including:

  • Malpasset concrete arch dam;
  • Low Crosby flood alleviation scheme;
  • Flood alleviation engineering works taken in Kolkata, Glasgow and Peru.

In his 2022 ICE Presidential address, Keith proposed using the UNSDGs as a framework for identifying technical, social, and environmental sectors impacted by water and other projects. Using this framework has many positives, including:

  • Identifying an increased range of project benefits;
  • Improving the performance of projects by involving a wider range of affected actors in their planning and design; and
  • Shifting the focus from outputs to outcomes.

All of which lead to improved sustainability and better societies.

However, the reality of bringing together different disciplines has been challenging as integration proved to be far more complex than originally anticipated. Finding lateral approaches between different disciplines was difficult and sustainability remained elusive.

The Water-Food-Energy Nexus, in the last decade, have also emerged to bring together three critical components of water resource planning which was the theme of the Irrigation and Water Forum’s (IWF) February events addressing issues and approaches in the UK and overseas.


18:30 - 18:35

Welcome from Dr Ian Tod, Chair, Irrigation and Water Forum (IWF)

18:35 - 19:20

Presentation by ICE President Keith Howells – Using the SDGs to improve the design and performance of water projects

19:20 - 19:40

Q&A session

19:40 - 19:45

Summation from the Chair


Close of lecture


Keith Howells

Keith Howells

Institution of Civil Engineers

president 2022/23

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Keith Howells

Keith Howells is the 158th President of the ICE.

Having graduated in civil engineering in 1974, Keith joined one of the founder members of the Mott MacDonald Group and spent the first 10 years of his career in infrastructure design and project management, mostly in the water and transport sectors. On completing an MBA in 1986, he became involved with the planning, feasibility, and financial and economic analysis of projects, principally in the water and environmental sectors. Over the next decade he worked on numerous projects funded by the international finance institutions as well as by UK government bodies.

Keith has built career long experience in the planning, study and design of hydraulic structures, hydropower, urban drainage, sewerage, water supply and river engineering schemes. He has worked in numerous countries as well as in the UK. He ran the firm’s Water and Environment business from 1997 to 2002, before becoming the Group Managing Director in 2004, directing the firm’s expansion in North America and Australasia. Keith became Chair of the Group’s Executive Board in 2011, responsible to shareholders for the performance of the company and its strategic direction – a role he continued until mid-2019.

Keith was on the board of the Association for Consultancy and Engineering from 2011 to 2015, and its Chair in 2013; he was a member of the CBI’s Construction Council from 2013 to 2019; and a member of the Cranfield School of Management Advisory Board from 2012 to 2020.  He is a Fellow of the Institution of Civil Engineers, a Fellow of the Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management and a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering.

For more information please contact:

Daxa Bharadwa