This is a letter of response to the recent Guardian long read by Kate Raworth, ‘The planet’s economist: has Kate Raworth found a model for sustainable living?’.

The themes in the article on Kate Raworth’s theory of Doughnut Economics are very familiar to us at Engineers Without Borders UK. We have been utilising its principles for many years – using it as a vital visual tool for our membership.

Engineers have been responsible for many of the great leaps forward humanity has taken. But the planet is paying the price for this progress, whilst millions of people are yet to reach a basic quality of life. 

As Raworth has highlighted, every decision comes with a consequence. Our aim is to equip the current and future generations of engineers to understand the considerable and far-reaching impacts of their work and ensure every measure is taken to maximise the benefits for all people and the planet. 

Data from the Institution of Engineering & Technology reported that only 7% of companies surveyed had the necessary skills to deliver their sustainability strategy. If we are to avert climate disaster, engineers must be empowered with the skills to address global challenges with a truly sustainable, equitable and ethical approach that transcends traditional silos and proactively involves communities impacted by decision-making.

With this in mind, we recently launched our Global Responsibility Competency Compass with support from the Royal Academy of Engineering, and with endorsement from the Engineering Council. The Compass provides a template to create a sustainability skills action plan for individuals and teams – providing confidence that responsible engineering principles are being embedded at every level.

Closing the global responsibility skills gap in our profession is a collective responsibility for all engineers, and Engineers Without Borders UK, its partners and supporters are committed to upskilling at least 250,000 individuals by 2030.

Engineers are perhaps uniquely placed to support a more ethical economy. Our profession has the ability to offer practical solutions to the complexity and uncertainty of pressing global challenges – but only if we can dramatically shift our perspective. 

Author: John Kraus, CEO of Engineers Without Borders UK

Explore the Compass

The Global Responsibility Competency Compass points practitioners to the capabilities needed to stay relevant and provides practical ways to develop themselves.

Read more