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Vernon Harcourt Lecture 2022: Flood-risk management – a just transition to a climate resilient future

Event organised by ICE

08 March 2022

This event has now ended


Join us at this year’s Vernon Harcourt lecture, which will be delivered by Sally Sudworth, global head of sustainability and climate change at Mott MacDonald.

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.

Are we doing enough?

Come along, join the discussion in person, and better understand your role in making a difference.


18:00 - 18:30


18:30 - 18:35

Welcome and introduction

18:35 - 19:10

Keynote by Sally Sudworth, global head of sustainability and climate change, Mott MacDonald

19:10 - 19:45

Panel and Q&A

19:45 - 19:50

Closing remarks and session close


Paula McMahon

Paula McMahon

Sir Robert McAlpine

#TheLine founder and regional supervising officer

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Paula McMahon

Paula started life as a civil engineering apprentice with her local Council straight from school.

She is currently the regional supervising officer for Sir Robert McAlpine’s Northern region where she oversees the professional development of future ICE members.

She also manages the Social Value for the A19 DBFO Project, is an employee representative and sits on several Affinity and leadership groups.

Her career has been wide ranging and varied and has included significant roles on high profile projects including the Thames Barrier, Hinkley Point C and DUBAL Aluminium. She is a Chartered Fellow of the ICE and Chartered Management Institute as well as being a Fellow of the Women’s Engineering Society and Royal Society of Arts, Commerce and Manufactures.

Paula is currently the North East Chair and Honorary Editor and Panel Chair for the flagship ICE Proceedings: Civil Engineering. She also sits on several strategy groups including the North East Chamber of Commerce Transport Forum and Teesside University’s Engineering Board where she is also a visiting lecturer.

Paula strongly believes in inspiring our next generation of civil engineers and educating everyone to work towards an equitable and sustainable future.

She is the driving force behind Engineering Together which brings together a wide selection of UK and International Engineering Institutions and bodies to work collaboratively to raise awareness and understanding of engineers and engineering.

She set up Primary Voices to impress the need for urgency climate action whilst providing everyday solutions to help tackle the climate crisis.

She is regularly invited to speak at national and international events on a range of topics including engineering, diversity and sustainability.

Paula’s work in the industry and education has earned her many Awards and accolades including the prestigious European WICE Award Lifetime in Engineering for 2021.

Micheala Chan

Micheala Chan


Civil Engineer

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Micheala Chan

Micheala Chan holds a BA and MEng in civil, structural, and environmental engineering from the University of Cambridge and is a civil engineer at Arcadis specialising in water and resilience.

Driven by a strong belief in the importance of meaningful youth engagement, Micheala served as a UK Youth Delegate to the G20 Indonesia 2022, advocating for policies to ensure a sustainable and liveable planet.

Currently, she leads the National Policy workstream for the Engineering Organization's Future Leaders/Young Engineers Working Group on Climate Action and co-leads the Commonwealth Sustainable Energy Transition Youth Action Group. Throughout this work, her objective is to empower young engineers to take climate action, building their capacity and influence.

Meshi Taka FICE

Meshi Taka FICE

Waterman Aspen

associate director

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Meshi Taka FICE

Meshi is a chartered Civil Engineer predominantly focused on water, flood risk and infrastructure spanning 20 years. In that time she has worked in a variety of roles across client and consultancy design delivery teams.

A longstanding volunteer for the ICE in the northeast and nationally, Meshi is an active champion and advocate for workplace EDI, STEM ambassador and Supervising Civil Engineer. Meshi can usually be found speaking to industry on allyship, inclusion, enabling, and promoting inclusive dialogue with everyone. She is committed to promoting inclusion in the workplace and attracting diverse talent into engineering and sustainability in design and net-zero action. Having collaborated with schools and professional organisations both within the region and nationally, engaging with and empowering girls through direct dialogue and visible representation; she has been influencing change by sharing her own experiences to help break down barriers and misconceptions, celebrate diversity and underrepresented groups without alienating the mainstream groups.

She also holds national ICE commitments as a serving member and vice-chair of the ICE’s Fairness Inclusion and Respect (FIR) committee (Diversity and inclusion, Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE)) and a member of the editorial panel for the ICE journal. She is also a technical contributor to the ICE’s Knowledge hub on flood risk and water.

For more information please contact:

Gabriella Lai