There is a growing recognition and acceptance that society needs to develop new pathways to achieve a more sustainable future. This is driving elements of government policy, business strategy and technical innovation, recognising that the past and present strategies of industrial societies have led to unacceptable damage of the physical environment and inequalities both within “developed” communities and with the rest of the non-industrialised world. The goal is to achieve economic progress, ecological protection and social justice.
Engineers are responsible for providing fundamental services in the delivery of infrastructure as well as manufactures products synonymous with the modern world. There is now a professional duty on engineers to formulate systems, technologies and attitudes that will deliver a more sustainable approach across all these sectors of engineering. Anthropogenic climate change, resource depletion, waste generation and pollution, poverty and inequity are some of the difficult problems we face. Engineers have a special place in being able to develop solutions and new strategies to deal with these critical subjects, whilst also providing the necessary tools to address global issues. The challenge is in finding robust ways of implementing sustainability at a practical level.