World Engineering Day for Sustainable Development
In 2019, UNESCO declared that 4 March would henceforth be celebrated as World Engineering Day for Sustainable Development. Starting today, the annual celebration presents a global opportunity to celebrate the profession and encourage the next generation of engineers to solve the challenges of the future. Last year we sat down with WFEO Past President Dr Marlene Kanga, who led the initiative, to hear her response to the announcement.
“Current engineering celebrations”, said Dr Kanga, “are small-scale and regional – often organised through institutions within that region”. “An international day with co-ordinated celebrations across the world will be an opportunity to increase the profile of engineering”.
WFEO’s initial proposed received around 80 letters from across the globe in support. These groups, in turn, represent an additional 23 million engineers spanning every continent. The numbers highlight the urgent need to increase the profession’s profile internationally.
It’s clear why: despite how much the world relies on engineering, we rarely consider the work that engineers perform behind the scenes and, if we do, often miscredit the work as the result of science. GPS, for example, is relied on by over 2 billion people around the world. But how many people stop to wonder how it works, or who made it?
As newly appointed WFEO President Gong Ke says: “science is about knowing and engineering is about doing”. As people around the world work to achieve the UN sustainable development goals (SDGs), it is engineers that will:
- develop and implement the technologies and systems needed to progress the UN sustainable development goals as they relate to water, energy, the environment, sustainable cities, and natural disaster resilience
- design and develop infrastructure resilient to the increasing number of weather-related events such as floods, cyclones, and bush fires (especially in developing countries that are most exposed to these risks)
- support the growth and development of essential infrastructure in developed and developing countries alike
- create more inclusive technologies and innovations; their work will help to address the currently unequal access to technology, leading to greater prosperity and quality of life for all.
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