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Why collaboration is essential to achieving the net zero target

07 June 2021

During her visit to the East Midlands region, Rachel Skinner highlighted the importance of stronger partnerships.

Why collaboration is essential to achieving the net zero target

A joined-up approach to climate change will ensure the East Midlands meets the legal net zero carbon target by 2050, according to a roundtable attended by ICE President Rachel Skinner.

This was the conclusion of the roundtable discussion held as part of the ICE President Rachel Skinner’s Shaping Zero themed visit to the region.

Skinner said: “It was great to hear more about the diverse examples of action within the East Midlands to work towards a net zero carbon position by 2050.

"It is clear from the roundtable that collaboration, particularly between the private and public sector and with communities, as well as equipping civil engineers with the right skills and technology, are vital if we are all to start making a real difference.

"I do hope that by bringing key people together during my visit and encouraging fresh debate, we are helping to lay the foundations for continuing close working and stronger partnerships.

"There has never been a more urgent call to change what we do than this climate emergency. The time to act is now," she added.

The visit comprised three open events, attracting ICE members and delegates from across the region, as well as closed roundtable discussion with infrastructure leaders and senior stakeholders.

Collaboration, legislation, technology and education

The roundtable took place on the first day of the visit. A number of infrastructure and senior leaders, from a range of key organisations including local authorities, local enterprise partnerships and universities working in the region, came together to discuss the carbon net zero challenge.

The attendees agreed, while work is already being done at a regional level, there is still an opportunity to improve cross-sector collaboration and best practice sharing: not just regionally, but nationally and internationally too.

The role technology can and must play was also discussed. The attendees examined how national frameworks would help ensure a consistent approach and prioritising sustainability and private-public joint ventures is vital. All agreed that the time to act is now.

Skills and education will continue to play a major part. It is up to civil engineers to change the way they work today by adapting existing infrastructure and future-proofing new projects to be resilient to climate change. They also need to inspire future generations to enter the profession to take up the mantle. The importance of aligning education and skills with the future job market was also highlighted.

Sharing knowledge

Two knowledge events also took place during the ICE President’s two-day visit.

In the first, 'Blue-Green Infrastructure: the theory and practice: North East, East Midlands and beyond', Skinner was joined by presenters, Nanco Dolman, from Royal HaskoningDHV, and Dr Emily O’Donnell, from the University of Nottingham's School of Geography. They focused on the blue-green infrastructure leaders in the UK, how this can help achieve the net zero target, while reducing carbon in infrastructure and make it more resilient to climate change.

The second event looked at Nottingham’s ambitious plan to become carbon-neutral by 2028. Wayne Bexton from Nottingham City Council, the transformation project lead, discussed what provisions towards greener transport, energy and decarbonising the city have already been made.

Ben McGrath, ICE East Midlands regional chair, said: "The need for various local and regional authorities to work together has never been more important. I am excited that we were able to facilitate meetings for Rachel with our regional infrastructure leaders and to showcase what our region is doing to ensure we meet this target.

"It is vital that civil engineers are part of this approach and continue to work together, across sectors and industries, to discuss what challenges and opportunities there are to create a greener and more sustainable East Midlands,"he added.

  • Magda Baldwin, marketing and communications executive at ICE