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Hear from WSP Technical Director, Climate Resilience & Adaptation

Hear from WSP Technical Director, Climate Resilience & Adaptation

 September 06, 2023

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Considering a career or new job moving into the area of addressing climate change through infrastructure? 

WSP is a fabulous company to work for, creating safer, more efficient and sustainable outcomes with modern methods of construction.

WSP provides organizations with the expertise they need to plan for the future, identify climate- and weather-related risks, and developing strategies to help organizations adapt and be climate resilient. WSP sets the standard for responding to climate change on the journey towards becoming Future Ready.

So let's learn more about this area by hearing from one of WSP's women experts working within this area.  

Making climate resilience and adaptation high on the agenda

Technical Director, Climate Resilience and Adaptation for WSP UK, Christine Wissink, has written about why climate adaptation must be on equal footing with climate change mitigation. Her insight is featured on The House, a politics, government and public policy focused website on the Politics Home platform delivered by media organization Total Politics Group.

Christine explains why climate resilience and adaptation need to be elevated up the agenda to sit alongside mitigation, and explains that tackling climate change has three key areas of focus:

  • mitigation – the steps being taken to decarbonise the way we live and limit the future impact of climate change
  • adaptation – actions and processes that help adjust long-term to the impacts of adverse changes to climate
  • resilience – the ability to quickly and effectively prepare for, respond to and recover from climactic events

"Meaningful action on these targets is crucial and currently the rate of delivery remains inconsistent, whilst the impact of global temperature rises becomes an increasing reality," says Christine. "However, whilst removing carbon from our transport, energy, buildings, industry, infrastructure and agriculture is vital work to make the world a more sustainable place for our children and grandchildren, the inescapable truth is that much damage to the climate and the environment we live in, has already been done."

Christine notes that climate change is already significantly affecting large regions of the world, noting devastating heatwaves and wildfires in Spain, Greece, Canada and Hawaii. "The damage to our climate is changing the way people will live forever, so our focus needs to shift to adapting to this new reality. As such, adaptation measures must now be put on an equal footing with mitigation to build our resilience to climate change," she says.

Adapting a way of life to a changing climate

WSP climate change

What is clear, according to Christine, is that consideration and decision-making today about infrastructure, buildings and economic growth must be based on a 30-year scope of climate change impacts.

"Every road, bridge, rail line, building and home must be designed with increasingly intense weather and broader changes to our climate in mind. Will the materials used bend, buckle or break when the thermometer reaches 40 degrees? Will a building be too hot to work or sleep in during summer? Will a rail line be stable when the ground beneath it swells and contracts due to excessive rainfall or drought?" suggests Christine. "These are all considerations we must take into account as we adapt our way of life to one with a changing climate. Decarbonisation is crucial but so too is adapting to climate change and building resilience into our systems and processes. As climate impacts start to affect the balance sheets of the private sector, it could be that economic investment in resilience measures finally comes, but we cannot wait forever as we could be fighting a losing battle on two fronts."

So, how are these aspects addressed?

One answer is adaptation planning and pathways which demonstrate how investment can be combined with regular asset management to build resilience, suggests Christine.

"By assessing the effectiveness of different adaptation measures, we can quickly identify actions that should be taken now versus those that can be taken later as our climate changes. If we apply this to our thinking and decision-making, no matter what the future looks like, our communities, economies and environment will continue to be great places to live, work and play," says Christine.

Looking for a sustainabilty-focused role addressing climate change?

WSP has many sustainability-focused careers on offer.

WSP works to help communities thrive. It's at the very heart of WSP's approach to sustainability. WSP facilitates long-term business success by enabling economic, environmental and social benefits that have a positive impact on current and future generations.

Find a dream role with WSP and apply.


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