On a Thursday evening in February we hosted a dialogue around climate action and sector responsibility. “Reimagining the role of the technical sector in the face of climate crisis” was a sell-out event, a nod to the passion and dedication of our community to ensure engineering is a profession that cares about social and environmental justice.
We designed the agenda to be bold. We invited the panelists to become participants; CEO’s and students as peers. We broke classroom norms; 80 people gathered in a circle to share knowledge. And most importantly we invited people to be agents; to move beyond conversation and connect with their motivation to act.
“Yesterday I was proud to have an engineering degree… I saw a profession willing and able to be reflexive – asking what are we good at, what is our role here, and how do we step up to execute.” – Rachael West – Strategic Speaker Coach, Facilitator, Engineer
Club of Rome member and Breakthrough board member Ian Dunlop implored us to consider the starting point for climate change; we’re beyond tipping points and we need strong action quick. Alice Greenhill, sustainability manager at Yarra Valley Water, brought home the message to a personal level, “Everyone has a role they can play. There are so many ways to be an activist.”
Here are a couple of action-oriented takeaways from participants:
- The power of small actions: Never underestimate the positive impact of small actions. We are always role models for those around us; friends, family, peers.
- Push client thinking: ask your client what they want to be designing for, go beyond the standards, and accepted “design life” – explore what a 50 year design might actually mean, and can realistically be expected.
- Inform ourselves: educating ourselves so we feel more confident to engage in conversations around climate change will build our capacity to have a greater influence. Find your voice and use it!
- Seek out collaborators: working with multi-disciplined groups and teams is critical to strengthen advocacy, to identify and share opportunities to create change.