ICE President: ‘today is our chance to really make a difference’

Professor Lord Robert Mair opened this week’s Global Engineering Congress (GEC) at the Institution of Civil Engineers headquarters in London.

ICE President Professor Lord Robert Mair speaking at the Global Engineering Congress in London. Image credit: Visual Eye
ICE President Professor Lord Robert Mair speaking at the Global Engineering Congress in London. Image credit: Visual Eye
The GEC gives engineers a “real opportunity to galvanise the global community and help improve the lives of millions of people,” ICE President Professor Lord Robert Mair said at the opening of the conference today.

The congress, organised by ICE in partnership with the World Federation of Engineering Organisations (WFEO), is running from 22 October to 26 October. It brings together more than 2,000 delegates from over 70 countries to help address the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

“Ultimately, this week’s GEC agenda is about solidarity and cooperation. It’s about how we share our skills and specialties and our economic and natural resources so that we can help to pave the way for economic development that leaves no one behind,” President Mair said.


Transforming lives

In his speech, President Mair talked about how engineers of the past transformed the health and lives of people living in Victorian London.

He talked about how Joseph Bazalgette, chief engineer of the Metropolitan Board, created London’s sewer network, building the pipes much larger than necessary to cater for possible growth in population.

“Bazalgette’s foresight meant that not only did he virtually eliminate cholera and decrease the number of typhus epidemics that plagued London, but his system of sewers accommodated this city for 150 years without need for expansion. He transformed lives in a major way,” President Mair said.

Challenges today's engineers face

Like engineers of the past, President Mair stressed that today’s engineers still have many problems to solve, and challenges to overcome. And the aim of the GEC is to open up conversations to achieve this.

“There are massive global improvements to be made in so many areas: from hunger to gender equality, global warming to sanitation. And we as a profession have the tools to tackle these challenges.

“This congress fittingly addresses the SDGs relating to water, energy, innovation, sustainable cities and climate change, but we’re also discussing the need for a more diverse profession and education for the engineers of our future.

“Today is our chance to really make a difference. Together.”