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Setting sustainable goals

The objective at the heart of the built environment profession is to provide solutions to people’s needs.

Nathan Baker, Director of Engineering Knowledge, Institution of Civil Engineers
2 July 2018

The objective at the heart of the built environment profession is to provide solutions to people’s needs. Whether that’s building homes for families, providing road and rail links for commuting workers, or developing energy infrastructure to keep the lights on, the industry seeks to serve communities around the world.

But in the 21st century, one in eight people live in extreme poverty. Billions of people still live in slum accommodation and go every day without clean water and sanitation. Nearly 800 million people still suffer from hunger. These statistics are unacceptable and we need to build a world that meets everyone’s needs while ensuring a sustainable future.

The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs) were created and adopted to try to do exactly that, addressing social needs and promoting prosperity for all while also protecting the planet. SDG 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities calls for access for all to adequate, safe and affordable housing; access to safe, affordable, accessible and sustainable transport systems; and inclusive and sustainable urbanisation. SDG 9: Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure sets targets for developing quality, reliable and resilient infrastructure and promoting inclusive and sustainable industrialisation.

These goals should not be unfamiliar. They are goals that all built environment professionals are already working towards. We should not limit our ambitions. We are uniquely placed to answer the many challenges the world faces, delivering practical solutions for societal issues.

Where we can, we must develop solutions which meet the dual challenges of rising populations and climate change. And these solutions must be sustainable so as to safeguard the future and preserve the planet for generations to come.

The work that we do not only has a significant impact on the SDGs most directly linked to our industry but can enable progress across all SDGs. A better, sustainable built environment will lead to and propagate better health, education and employment outcomes while contributing to action on targets such as waste and carbon emissions reduction.

Global Engineering Congress

Join the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) and the World Federation of Engineering Organisations at the Global Engineering Congress in London, October 2018.

The World Built Environment Forum facilitates industry leading discussions harnessing the enormous potential of the 21st century's people and places.