PMI UK Chapter

Energy Transition

As part of COP26 and the PMI UK Net Zero conference, Arup and PMI UK collaborated on developing a thought leadership series covering the four COP26 goals of

1. Energy Transition

2. Development of Low Carbon Transport

3. Climate ready liveable cities

4. Blue-Green infrastructure – nature-based solutions.

A series of videos was developed to provide practical case studies of societies response to the challenges and also examples of the project and programme managers role which can inspire others and see what they can do to participate.

The videos are intended as a record of what is happening, to stimulate further thought leadership and action – and in particular set the scene for further opportunities to learn and share learning across the PMI UK community during 2022    

From Jo’s perspective, what could COP26 success look like?

For 26 years global leaders have been getting together to talk about climate change and what that means for mankind. Six years ago, COP21 reached an agreement, known as the Paris Agreement whereby global leaders recognised that we were approaching a real climate crisis and committed to keeping global emissions low enough so that global warming didn’t exceed 2 degrees above pre-industrial levels.

A successful COP would be if all countries in the world collectively agreed to transition away from fossil fuels very rapidly. 

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'We have an opportunity, through every project, to make a positive contribution to repairing the health of the planet, and to contribute to the health of society. We tend to think about the outputs, a building, a road, a bridge - these are outputs and project managers tend to monitor the progress of the creation of those outputs. The big difference we need to make is really focus on outcomes, what is it that we are ultimately trying to achieve through the projects we deliver' 

Projects as enablers for essential change

 As an industry the built environment has a major role to play, and we as consultants in that Industry whether we’re operating as project managers, designers, or planners. We all have a really important role to play.

The biggest difference we can make is through our projects with our clients.

Arup’s approach is to focus on four UNSDG objectives, the biggest difference and impact we can have is in relation to the goals that relate to the built environment which is our core business (6 – clean water and sanitation,7 – affordable and clean energy ,9 – industry, innovation and infrastructure, & 11- sustainable cities and communities) 

A critical call to action for project managers

Everyone has a role to play, whether you’re a new graduate or a project leader. Each of us, within our own sphere of influence has a responsibility to think about and understand the difference we can make to reduce carbon on every project that we are involved in.

A starting point is, introduce whole life carbon costing on projects, starting at project inception stage. Project managers play a very powerful and influential role. When bringing design teams together they are key agents of change in putting climate change firmly on the agenda and making sure that everyone within the project team is contributing their best.

Using your skills and expertise to reduce suffering and save the planet is a choice – make the decision to commit to change now – there is no time to waste. ‘Think of being on the Titanic and choosing either to continue dancing in the ballroom or manning the lifeboats’.

About Jo da Silva

Jo is the Global Director of Sustainable Development at Arup, leading Arup’s activities to address the climate, biodiversity and equity crises through creating safe, inclusive and resilient communities whilst safeguarding the planet.

She has earned global recognition as an engineer who has applied knowledge and design expertise to improve safety, promote inclusivity, and enhance resilience of communities, cities and infrastructure globally. She has led the planning, design and implementation of a wide range of buildings, infrastructure, and urban regeneration projects for Arup, and have also worked extensively in crisis and disaster contexts for non-governmental, UN agencies and multi-laterals.

Jo has authored numerous papers and publications and received an honorary doctorate in humanitarian engineering from Coventry University. She was previously a Fellow at Sydney Sussex, Cambridge University lecturing in Engineering for Sustainable Development and contributed to the guest Faculty for the Cambridge Programme for Sustainability Leadership.

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