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MPhil in Engineering for Sustainable Development

global challenges, engineering solutions

Making the international emergency response to shelter following natural disasters build towards safer and more sustainable futures

In this report it is demonstrated that a 'sustainable development' approach to relief would offer some additional benefit in comparison to the existing approach, with greater emphasis on environmental issues and participation in particular. However, as it is currently construed the sustainable development concept fails to accurately account for the risk of natural hazards.

Investigation into an alternative concept, 'safe development' found that little significant work on the subject had been done. A compromise framework which attempts to integrate safety and sustainability concerns in relation to disaster recovery was selected to test the validity of an integrative approach (UN-HABITAT's concept of Sustainable Relief and Reconstruction). Testing was done using information gathered from qualitative techniques, namely inductive interviews with four purposefully selected participants from the humanitarian sector.

The framework was found wanting, lacking in several key areas and significantly underdeveloped. Investigation progressed to whether or not an integrative approach is at all appropriate, finding the later, that it is not. It is concluded that sustainable development and safe development are best addressed separately, though links should be emphasised to leverage the popularity of sustainable development for the benefit of neglected risk related concerns.

With some evidence collected to support the assertion that independent safe and sustainable development approaches would be beneficial, the potential for mainstreaming these approaches was investigated.


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.