Background

During my year as ICE President I have worked with 12 young engineers from around the world to develop an eingineer's toolkit for international development.

My 12 President's Apprentices - from the UK, Nigeria, Ghana, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Sri Lanka, China and Hong Kong - visited and studied a number of infrastructure development projects in Durban. They also attended a series of training workshops in London and Durban and at UNESCO's HQ in Paris, led by eminent industry and development professionals. I have been helped in this project primarily by Charles Ainger and Ron Watermeyer but also by many others from the worldwide civil engineering and related communities to whom I am enormously indebted. Without them - and the incredible commitment of the Apprentices - none of this would have been possible.

From this experience the Apprentices have defined the key elements of an Engineering Project Delivery Plan for International Development and the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (UN MDGs) which have been captured in this toolkit. This is a first in the civil engineering field as an open-source set of materials and ideas to help engineers plan and deliver infrastructure for international development, poverty alleviation and the UN MDGs.

Paul Jowitt
Past ICE President (2009-2010)

Toolkit Overview

Project delivery sequence

Economic and technical progress over the past 200 years did not anticipate the wider physical and non-physical consequences at a systems level. It was never anticipated that human activities would lead to impacts on a global scale that could threaten the environment and humanity’s place in it. It is now becoming clear that the earth is no longer able to withstand and rebound from human activity. It has limits. We now know differently – and we must respond accordingly, to determine the actions required to achieve agreed social and environmental objectives. A more systems view of the world is needed and solutions at a systems level need to be developed to address the following two issues of truly global proportions:

  1. Engineering the world away from an environmental crisis caused in part by previous generations in terms of greenhouse gas emissions and profligate resource use
  2. Providing the infrastructure platform for an increasingly urbanised world and lifting a large proportion of the world’s growing population out of poverty

Sustainable infrastructure i.e. the services and facilities necessary for an economy to function, need to be planned, procured, constructed, maintained and disposed of in a manner which is consistent with the principles of global sustainable development and which contribute to the attainment of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (UN MDGs).

This engineer’s toolkit for international development maps out responses to the challenges faced in international development. It poses searching questions and suggests appropriate actions across a range of issues which fall within the infrastructure delivery cycle (see Figure 1).

Civil engineers have an advocacy role to play in informing the public of the unintended consequences of unsustainable development in all its forms, influencing government to do the right things and in advancing the political will for change.