We have a vision to see society balance the needs of all people with the needs of our planet.
We urgently need to balance the needs of all people with the needs of our planet. Together, we will put global responsibility at the heart of engineering, ensuring a safe and just future for all.
Society balances the needs of all people with the needs of our planet.
The role of engineering
As we look ahead to the 2030 deadline for the UN Sustainable Development Goals, it is time for the engineering community to proactively consider how we can address the destruction of global ecosystems and the current failure to meet the basic human rights of everyone.
There needs to be a rapid move towards globally responsible practice. This means critically reflecting on the role of engineering in society and understanding the social, environmental and economic impacts engineering has, both locally to where it is implemented and globally through supply chains and operational outputs.
To achieve social and environmental justice, we need those working in and around engineering to commit to global responsibility. Our 2021-30 strategy sets out four key principles of global responsibility; responsible, purposeful, inclusive and regenerative, that we want to see adopted across the engineering community and embedded in the culture of how all engineering is taught and practised.
How we drive change
We are proud to be part of a movement of over 60 unique Engineers Without Borders organisations across the world who believe that engineering can be a critical enabler of change that allows the planet, including all people and living beings, to thrive.
At Engineers Without Borders UK we are committed to putting global responsibility at the heart of engineering to contribute to this change. To be part of this movement, we invite individuals, teams and organisations, across education and industry to develop their competence in global responsibility to ensure a safe and just future for all.
Examples of our work include the Engineering for People Design Challenge, reaching over 70,000 students across the world, supporting undergraduate students’ understanding of their impact as engineers on both people and the planet through a project based learning challenge. We work with professionals across the sector to develop advocacy skills through the Advocate programme aimed at evolving skill sets to accelerate company growth plans, sustainability commitments to balance the needs of people and the planet in their solutions. We contribute and lead on research reports including the UN Global Compact Network UK report, which revealed how the UK is only performing well on 17% of the targets relevant to the domestic delivery of the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
Engineers Without Borders started when a group of engineers gave their time and their skills to help people in Ethiopia during the famine of the early 1980s. Now there are 60 organisations around the world.
Our organisation, Engineers Without Borders UK, emerged at the beginning of the millennium, during an era of greater global consciousness, which saw the world commit to the Millennium Development Goals.
In 2001, a group of students at University of Cambridge were inspired by one of the founders of Engineers Without Borders Canada, and set up the organisation in the UK.
We became a registered company and charity in 2004, but the big shift came in 2006 when we went from being a group of volunteers to having permanent professional staff.
During this period we provided the opportunity to deliver pro-bono engineering support around the world increasing access to clean water, improved sanitation facilities, reliable energy resources and resilient built environments.
In 2011, we began to make an impact on the UK’s education system. Our award-winning Engineering for People Design Challenge prepares students, the engineers of the future, to become globally responsible engineers.
In 2016, we launched our five year ‘Engineering Change’ strategy, which introduced globally responsible engineering and our intention to transform engineering so that it benefits everyone.
In 2019, after delivering over 200,000 hours of pro-bono engineering we took the decision to end our international placements. They remain an important part of our history and the journey we went on to evolve into the movement we are today. But the number of people they’ve helped either directly, or indirectly, is relatively small compared to the size of the global challenges we face. We took time to assess our work and realised that we can positively affect many more lives by using our influence and educational programmes to encourage change on a much larger and strategic scale. As such our focus has moved from running individual pro-bono projects to creating systemic change.
Today, we continue to grow in size, reach, impact and ambition. We are now focused on reaching the tipping point where global responsibility becomes integral to the way all engineering is taught and practiced.