skip to content

MPhil in Engineering for Sustainable Development

global challenges, engineering solutions

Risk Management as a Framework for Applying Sustainability Concepts on Infrastructure Projects

Kristen MacAskill

Risk Management as a Framework for Applying Sustainability Concepts on Infrastructure Projects


This dissertation makes a case for integrating the concept of sustainability into project risk management for early phases of infrastructure projects.  This has the potential to re-conceptualise decision structures for sustainability from bespoke assessment to becoming a standard part of the project decision-making process.  There is no widely practised approach for objectively considering the environmental and social context of projects alongside the more traditional project risks regarding time, cost and quality.  A risk-based approach will not solve all the issues associated with current sustainability assessment, but it does place sustainability concerns alongside other key risks and opportunities, integrating sustainability with other project decisions.

This dissertation also proposes a need to address project risks (and opportunities) systematically, which requires an understanding of linkages between risks.  This concept is promoted in the International Standard for risk management (ISO 31000) and other risk and sustainability literature but it has yet to be widely adopted in practical application.  To address this absence of a systemic approach, social network analysis software is explored as the basis for a tool that allows assessment of risk and opportunity relationships.  A case study is modelled using the software to illustrate the insights gained from considering risk links, and the potential application of this tool on projects.


Course Overview


The need to engage in better problem definition through careful dialogue with all stakeholder groups and a proper recognition of context.


An ability to work with specialists from other disciplines and professional groups acknowledging that technical innovation and business skills also must be understood, nurtured and combined as precursors to the successful implementation of sustainable solutions.


An understanding of mechanisms for managing change in organisations so future engineers are equipped to play a leadership role.


An awareness of a range of assessment frameworks, sustainability metrics and methodologies such as Life Cycle Analysis, Systems Dynamics, Multi-Criteria Decision making and Impact Assessment.