Topic 2: Sustainable engineering and engineering as soft power

The concept of sustainable development was introduced by the Brundtland report, Our Comman Future, of the United Nations World Commission on Environmental Development of 1987. It defines as Sustainable growth: “meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”. Engineering is generally understood to be the designing, building and maintenance of structure, machines, devices, systems, materials and processes.

In keeping with these two ontologies, sustainability engineering involves the embedding social, environmental and economic considerations into in meeting human needs.

Socially responsible investing is one of the biggest changes the investment industry faces today. But responsible investment in development is not enough, we need all societal actors to engage. Of course, it will change the functioning and probably also the way of understanding problems and of discussing problems. If we want to go towards a knowledge society, this is what it is about use the knowledge that is widely there in society and not only restrain us to scientific knowledge. To create right conditions, we need women engineers, women policy makers to engage.

As the world population nears eight billion and living standards continue to raise, engineers find themselves under increasing pressure to meet unlimited demands of humanity with limited sources of the earth.  Sustainable Engineering, as a practice, places a strong emphasis on the design, development, and improvement of engineering systems, processes, and products with minimum environmental impact and maximum social and economic benefits. In accordance with Neil Postman’s proposition in his book ‘The Surrender of Culture to Technology” it should be achieved by carefully considering the initial problem, the number of people affected by that problem, potential adverse consequences of the technology employed to address the problem and the trade-offs involved, including what is gained and what is lost through these changes. Anticipation is a crucial aspect to achieve this goal.