Engineers not politicians will need to sort out climate challenge, FIDIC president tells Singapore conference

11 Sep 2023

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FIDIC president Tony Barry gave an upbeat assessment of the engineering, construction and infrastructure industry in an opening address to FIDIC’s Global Infrastructure Conference in Singapore, which opened on 11 September 2023.

Barry said that the industry should be proud of the resilience it had shown over recent years as it weathered the Covid crisis and then increasing economic and geopolitical headwinds. “The world faces some significant challenges in the future and chief amongst them is the growing climate crisis,” he said. “With all due respect to the politicians though, it is the engineers at the end of the day who will need to figure things out,” said Barry.

Barry also said that the challenges of the climate crisis, increasing geopolitical tensions and the digital revolution were testing the industry and its people like never before. “We are having to reframe and rethink the way we work and adapt our business models to cope with new economic and social conditions, we may not have seen coming,” he said.

Amid so many complex issues, Barry said that the industry was also having to grapple with the changes needed to address the crucial impact of climate change and climate-related events. “The time has come where the world is looking to engineers for the solutions that are achievable and sustainable and I know that our industry has the wherewithal, resilience and ingenuity to rise to the challenges in front of us,” he concluded.

Earlier, in his opening address to the conference, FIDIC CEO Dr Nelson Ogunshakin said that the conference theme of Infrastructure – there’s no time to lose: Sustainable global (and local) strategies to build a better world, would stress the urgency of the need to invest in infrastructure in a sustainable way at a local and national level around a common aim of improving the global environment that everyone depends on.

Ogunshakin said that industry needed to work in partnership to address the key issues and challenges the world faces. “We cannot solve everything on our own but without our industry’s involvement the world cannot succeed in dealing with some of the existential issues it faces,” he said.

The opening session of the conference also included a special video address to FIDIC delegates from Saadia Zahidi, managing director of the World Economic Forum, who set the macroeconomic context for the conference.

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