Engineers from across the world are marking World Engineering Day for Sustainable Development today, the second annual UNESCO international day which highlights the achievements of engineers and engineering in our modern world and aims to improve public understanding of how engineering and technology is central to sustainable development.
With almost three-quarters of the Irish public citing that engineers have an ethical obligation to tackle climate change and biodiversity loss, Maurice Buckley, President of Engineers Ireland, commented: “Engineers play a critical role in shaping the world around us and are uniquely placed to help the world meet critical Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
“Our approach to sustainability includes the resilience of our built and natural environment in the face of extreme weather (climate adaptation), the need to reduce emissions related to our buildings, vehicles and infrastructure (climate mitigation), biodiversity protection and enhancement, and achieving the UN SDGs”.
Maurice Buckley added: “The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated our ability to make dramatic improvements for the good of society, including innovation in healthcare technology and how we work. In the midst of the pandemic we have a unique opportunity to build on this forced innovation and make significant and lasting changes to reduce emissions, improve our environment, and to slow climate change. There is an opportunity now to make sustainability and climate action central to Ireland’s recovery, in order to reduce human impact on the environment while improving our quality of life.
“Minister for the Environment Eamon Ryan said just last week that cutting Ireland’s carbon emissions by half over the next decade will be immensely challenging but is achievable, and it is encouraging to see the clear intention at EU and at Irish government level, to ensure that any new stimulus investment to recover from the pandemic is undertaken in an entirely sustainable way.
“Engineers Ireland recognises, and will respond to, the clear call for new and innovative engineering solutions to support this. The world right now is preoccupied with the pandemic. But as an engineering community, we need to get back to strengthening the focus on mitigating and adapting to climate change. We must build resilience to climate change into all our infrastructural investment now, as well as working with countries all around the globe, to reduce emissions and mitigate warming,” Mr Buckley added.
As part of STEPS Engineers Week 2021, Engineers Ireland’s members will join hundreds of secondary students and their teachers to virtually attend Engineers Ireland’s lunchtime event to mark World Engineering Day for Sustainable Development today, which includes a panel discussion involving the Chair of the Committee on Climate Action, Brian Leddin TD, on the contribution of engineering to climate action at home and abroad.
Mr Leddin commented: “As a working engineer myself before my election to the Dáil, I recognise the significant contribution that Irish engineers have made and will make to our economy and our society. On World Engineering Day for Sustainable Development, it is particularly important to recognise the central role that Ireland’s engineers will play in this country’s response to the climate crisis. I’m grateful to Engineers Ireland for their ongoing work in promoting the profession of engineering and its importance to Ireland’s sustainable future.”
Now in its 15th year, and taking place virtually for the first time, STEPS Engineers Week is coordinated by Engineers Ireland’s STEPS programme – funded by Science Foundation Ireland, the Department of Education and industry leaders Arup, ESB, Intel and Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII). Highlights of the week-long campaign include:
- Free-to-attend and on-demand virtual engineering shows for primary and secondary students by Explorium, Scientific Sue and other STEM professionals
- Free engineering resources and activities, such as teacher challenge packs for primary and secondary school students, engineering trails and quizzes, available in both English and Irish
- Meet an Engineer online events and podcasts, where students can hear from engineers at all stages of their careers and working in a variety of disciplines.
- The Irish premiere of the Emmy-nominated Mission Unstoppable series, featuring STEPS Ambassador and NASA Datanaut, Fionnghuala O’Reilly.
- Sustainability events and workshops to celebrate World Engineering Day for Sustainable Development on 4 March.
- Free documentaries, such as The Story of Water by Irish Water, which also includes accompanying worksheets which are perfect for school or at home.