Council update June 2021

In their April meeting, Council members discussed a range of topics including ICE’s carbon agenda. Read about the key decisions and activities that took place.

ICE President Rachel Skinner
ICE President Rachel Skinner

State of the Nation 2021 

Decarbonisation is a thread that runs through a great deal of what that the institution does, and you’ll know from the Shaping Zero film I launched at my inauguration that the theme for my Presidential year is climate action towards net-zero. To date the film has been viewed by tens of thousands of people, not just amongst ICE members but in workplaces and classrooms across the world. It’s encouraging to see that the topic of climate change and how to tackle it still resonates with the public. 

So, I was pleased that Council had the opportunity to hear more about the Institution’s plan for this year’s flagship State of the Nation programme at the meeting’s first strategy session of the day. Last year’s report looked at the policy changes that are required for the UK’s infrastructure sector to play its role in achieving net zero emissions by 2050. This year, the State of the Nation steering group will seek to explain how civil engineers can play a part in enabling low carbon choices.

A number of themes emerged that included looking at how people use infrastructure systems with a view to supporting the industry in designing those systems in more sustainable ways. To what extent civil engineers can ‘nudge’ the public into making more sustainable decisions in their everyday life was also debated. State of the Nation will launch later this year and I hope as many members as possible are able to attend the round table events that will be taking place across the year. Your insight, as always, is invaluable. 

ICE’s Strategic Plan for Carbon 2022-2026

I hope you have had a chance to look at some of the initiatives that the Institution has been working on this year including a call to build a community of ‘Carbon Champions’, who are people and teams already on the path to reducing carbon. This year’s programme is just the beginning of ICE’s longer-term work to help civil engineers demonstrate their competence in carbon, help industry with practical tools and offer governments across the world with best-in-class carbon guidance and advocacy. Council members participated in a second strategy session of the day to offer their input on how ICE should best prioritise these and other topics which will form ICE’s strategic plan for action on carbon over the coming years. 

Selection of the President 

The attributes and level of qualification that future ICE Presidents should possess is a subject that generates a good deal of debate amongst Council and the wider membership. Council members agreed that in order to be eligible for the role, the President should be able to demonstrate a significant or outstanding contribution in civil engineering and many suggested that in order to maintain Fellowship as the pinnacle of membership, it should be a requirement for future post-holders to have reached that level. Council and Trustees are keen to hear views and the regional and international committees will be asked to collate these over the summer.

ICE Awards

Winning an ICE Award is an impressive milestone for a civil engineer or project, providing the winner significant recognition within the industry. I am pleased that for the first time, ICE has refreshed the awards categories to reflect its commitment to enabling members and the wider industry to make real change for the good of the environment and society. Council is keen that Community Advisory Boards are used to recommend a shortlist for each award ahead of the Awards Committee’s selection panel in early July. 

Keeping the public safe 

With recent high-profile infrastructure failures at the forefront of everyone’s mind, it is ever-more critical that we can assure society that infrastructure professionals are properly competent. This is a key strand of ICE’s work. I was grateful to Council member Julia Bregulla for offering her insights into the progress that the industry is making in keeping the public safe and minimising the risk of infrastructure failure. Her presentation covered a number of areas including the incredibly effective work that CROSS have been doing to publish fire and structural safety reports, supported by ICE. 

Enabling a confidential reporting mechanism has been key to this success but there is a long way to go if we are to offer the confidence which the public is seeking. Ensuring that those working in infrastructure are professionally qualified is key – to date, of the three million who work in engineering industries just 10% hold such a qualification. 

I am delighted that Julia will be joining ICE’s Trustee Board from November and look forward to her onward contribution. 

Listening to the views of members 

As I head into the final six months of my tenure as President, I am looking forward to continuing to meet as many of you as possible through my regional and international visits. Although the pandemic has necessitated that these be held remotely, I am constantly impressed by the passion and enthusiasm that is so obvious across the membership, and I genuinely enjoy hearing your views and ideas. 

Council meetings are vital in ensuring that your views are heard at the very top of the Institution. Please do make good use of your local ICE network and share your thoughts on any of the topics I’ve mentioned in this update.

On that same note, please do make sure that you have your say by voting in the upcoming Trustee and Council elections and governance ballot.

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