Engineers play an integral role in shaping humanity’s interactions with the world around us. As a profession that has the power to transform the world for the better, engineers are uniquely placed to tackle global challenges, improve quality of life, protect the environment, and increase our resilience to risk.
At the same time, engineering has played a fundamental role in contributing to the unjust and unsustainable practices that dominate the world today. Evidence has shown that human development and the advancement of technologies are directly linked to increasing carbon emissions, biodiversity loss and human exclusion. As a result, we are now faced with the reality that our current way of life cannot be sustained for generations to come.
“There is no doubt that we have passed the point where we can afford to sit on the fence and wait for others. […] Global responsibility in engineering is not a choice if you believe in our collective long term future.” – Katie Cresswell-Maynard, Executive Director at Engineers Without Borders International
Through a study of existing literature and interviews with engineers working in the built environment sector, in this report, we highlight the existing understanding and role of global responsibility as a concept within the sector. We explore the following: What is understood by global responsibility in engineering, and what are some of the preceding concepts that have led to this point? How well is the urgency for adopting a globally responsible approach in engineering grasped? To what extent do engineers feel it is their responsibility to take action and what is accelerating or dampening that?
Alongside this, we explore the practical barriers holding back progress in day-to-day practice and draw recommendations for practice and future work.