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WSP Executive Director Rachel Skinner concludes ICE Presidency

WSP Executive Director Rachel Skinner concludes ICE Presidency

 November 08, 2021

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WSP Executive Director Rachel Skinner discharged her final duties as the 156th President of the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE)during a virtual ceremony, passing responsibility to her successor, Ed McCann.

Calling for urgent action from the infrastructure community 

Rachel was the youngest president in the Institution’s 200-year history when she was inaugurated in November 2020 - the largest ICE event in history. Additionally, Rachel was only the second woman to hold the role.

“This past year has truly opened my eyes to the scale of the climate challenge that faces us and the real pace of change we need to deliver on the ground. Urgent action is needed today and every single person in the infrastructure community has a crucial role to play,” explained Rachel.

“We have to change the way we design and build, also how we value and improve the built and natural environment around us, and beyond that we must do more to transform how infrastructure systems are used by millions of people, every day.”

“I’m hugely grateful for all of the support given to me during my time as ICE President from the Institution, from WSP colleagues, and from friends and connections across the industry who have been in touch to share their thoughts and feedback. I’m an optimist; with enough creative engineering minds on this problem, I know we can come up with climate solutions that will make a real difference and benefit communities all over the world. That said, time is now very short,” she added.

“I said on the first day of my Presidency that this was not a one-year task, but I am excited and re-energised to know that my efforts this year have helped many more thousands of civil engineers and infrastructure specialists to ‘tune in’ to the climate crisis and begin to play their part.”

Focusing on the climate emergency

During her tenure, Rachel's singular focus was the climate emergency and in particular the crucial role that civil engineers must play in achieving net zero carbon emissions. With around 70% of global carbon emissions linked to infrastructure assets – through their creation and everyday use – Rachel laid out the serious responsibility and incredible opportunity for civil engineers to decarbonise designs, practices and projects through her ‘Shaping Zero’ campaign.

Challenging civil engineers to combat climate change

Through two films and dozens of industry keynotes and events held virtually across the world, Rachel challenged civil engineers to join in with both the attack to net zero and the defensive role, through better resilience and adaptation, that must be played by infrastructure due to onward climate change that lies ahead.

This focus has been particularly poignant during the United Nations’ Climate Change Conference – COP26 – where leaders from across the world gathered in Glasgow to reaffirm commitment to ambitious goals to tackle climate change.

Introducing Carbon Champions initiative

During Rachel’s term as President, a specific highlight was the introduction of ‘Carbon Champions’ and a celebration of the first cohort to come through the programme, designed to recognise best practice in decarbonisation efforts across the civil engineering community.

Encouraging global collaboration

Rachel also encouraged collaboration between professional institutions, with engineering experts and with stakeholders across the world, including the Mayors of Los Angeles, Stockholm and Melbourne, with the support of WSP's global network.

Creating dialogue with climate change experts

Through her two films, Rachel also opened dialogues with environment and climate experts, including Eden Project Founder Sir Tim Smit, Sir Ranulph Fiennes, the world's greatest living explorer, and Lord Deben, Chair of the UK’s Committee on Climate Change.

Creating dialogue with climate change experts

Rachel’s passion to drive climate action through the engineering and infrastructure sectors has pushed decarbonisation and climate resilience to the very top of the ICE’s strategic agenda, and encouraged thousands of people working in the built environment worldwide to ask what they are doing – and what they will do – to support climate action.

“Rachel’s presidency of the Institution of Civil Engineers has brought the climate emergency to the fore and substantially accelerated the conversation around net zero,” said Mark Naysmith, Regional CEO - WSP UK, CE, MEI & ZA.

“Engineers will play a key role in decarbonising the built environment and, as a Fellow of the Institution and a business leader in the built environment, I'm proud of the vigour with which Rachel has garnered international support and action for this global challenge.”

At WSP, drive positive change for people and the planet

Rachel Skinner is among  many WSP leaders using their knowledge and experience for good.

If you want to make a difference in your career, WSP provides a perfect platform.


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