4 March marks the inaugural World Engineering Day for Sustainable Development which will be celebrated every year as a UNESCO international day, celebrating engineers and engineering.
The World Federation of Engineering Organisations (WFEO) proposed 4th March as World Engineering Day, as an opportunity to celebrate the important contributions of engineers and engineering to sustainable development and modern life.
Organisations and offices of the United Nations, governments, civil society, the public and private sectors, schools, universities, and society, are expected to make the international day a springboard for awareness-raising actions.
“Engineers aren’t very good at articulating the value of engineering and the impact that engineers and engineering have on society. This is a wonderful opportunity to talk about these aspects and engage the community in the work of engineers”, said Dr. Marlene Kanga, the Past President of the World Federation of Engineering Organizations, who led the proposal for the day.
The celebration of World Engineering Day is also about promoting engineering as a career and how it is an opportunity to change the world for better. There is a great deal to be done especially to achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals in countries where support is most needed and to ensure that everyone has access to clean water, sanitation, reliable energy, and other basic human needs.
In all countries, there is also a great deal to be done – to deal with the impacts of climate change, environmental issues, our growing cities and the challenges of new technologies including artificial intelligence. There are many opportunities and the day can be used to engage with young people and say “If you want to change the world for the better, become an engineer.”
What is WFEO
The World Federation of Engineering Organisations is an international, non-governmental organization representing the engineering profession worldwide. Founded in 1968 by a group of regional engineering organizations, under the auspices of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisations (UNESCO) in Paris, WFEO brings together national engineering organisations from some 100 nations and represents more than 30 million engineers from around the world.
ICE and WFEO
ICE has been a member of WFEO since their first meeting in 1968, in fact from 1989-1997 under the secretary general Sir John McKenzie, we shared the same HQ, One Great George Street. Since 2015 we have chaired their Committee on Engineering and the Environment (CEE), one of their key standing technical committees(STC). We also are represented on their Energy STC, their Women in Engineering STC and have an advisory role to the WFEO president.
The Committee on Engineering and the Environment
WFEO has fully embraced the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) with each WFEO STC being tasked to focus on one or two key Sustainable Development Goals. The CEE’s chosen SDG being 13 Climate Action: “Take urgent action to tackle climate change and its impacts.”
I succeeded Jean Venables as CEE chair in November last year. One of my first actions to tackle SDG13 was to introduce a climate change declaration which was announced at COP25 in Spain, and has since been signed by the many of the WFEO member organisations.
Echoing similar declarations made by the engineering community last year, the WFEO Climate Declaration will be used to strengthen working practices and create engineering outcomes that have more-positive impacts on the world around us.
In a recent interview with the WED organisers I spoke of the role engineering has to play: “Climate change is a problem that is affecting all of us, wherever we are based in developed countries, developing countries, living in an area of high flood risk or in the risk of droughts. Therefore I see and climate change as the topic where we will need lots of creativity from engineers because so far we’ve been using our time and investment on creating awareness and acceptance of the problem, but I think now is the moment of taking action.”
The CEE will also be present at this year’s COP26 in the UK and will be promoting the role that engineers play in tackling climate change, both through mitigating the carbon produced in the design, construction and operation of infrastructure as well as adapting the places we live, work and socialize in to increasingly uncertain climatic events.
- Find out more on the WFEO CEE
- Listen to Davide's podcast
- Read CEEQUAL Director Ian Nicholson's insights from the Sustainable Development Goals Workshop
- Read our blog on implementing sustainable development goals through engineering