This article is the next instalment in a new series where two of ACE’s Emerging Professionals explore what sustainability means to them.
To celebrate Earth Day, which this year is taking place on Friday 22 April 2022, Katie Dixon, environmental consultant at Mott MacDonald, and Alice Tidswell, assistant environmental scientist for Atkins, share what sustainability means to them.
“I have been in the industry for six years and a lot has changed”
As an environmental consultant, I have worked on a wide range of projects across multiple sectors including transport, water and the built environment. All sectors are faced with their own challenges, but most are now all wanting to be more sustainable and act more sustainably.
I have been in the industry for almost six years, and it feels like a lot has changed, with more and more people, businesses and governments, around the world realising the scale and urgency of challenges that we face such as climate change resilience and adaptation, becoming Net Zero and resource inequalities and scarcity to name a few.
The future doesn’t look great, but the industry is an exciting place to be at the moment for sustainability professionals and enthusiasts. Technical expertise is evolving to become less focused on “tick box” exercises and focusing more on positive outcomes. Services such as nature-based solutions, natural capital, environmental and social governance are all developing to provide better understanding of good environmental, economic and social outcomes.
For me this is what sustainability is about. Innovation for positive change and bringing everyone together to achieve outcomes that enhance and protect our environment, provide social benefit, promote equality for all and are economically viable long term. So this Earth Day I encourage everyone to consider whether they are positively contributing to the outcomes that they want to see.
Katie Dixon, Mott MacDonald
“We have the power to influence decision-making”
As a climate and environment consultant working in infrastructure, I work with businesses across the water, energy and transport sectors to ensure that they are actively considering the impacts that climate change and the transition to a low-carbon economy with have on their business’s.
Initiatives such as the Taskforce for Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) test an organisation’s capabilities to manage their climate-related risks and demonstrate how through a strong governance framework, good risk management practices and a robust business strategy they are able to respond to, and find opportunities arising from, the climate transition.
This Earth Day, the theme is Investing in our Planet which highlights the relationship that our global economy has with climate change. Through TCFD, we help businesses realise the financial impacts associated with a business-as-usual approach in the current political and social environment in which they operate. It is no longer sufficient for an organisation to simply state its ambitions, with inaction proving costly in the climate transition. The rapid uptake of initiatives like TCFD signals a shift in corporate outlook, with increasing value being placed on an organisations sustainability credentials when it comes to investment.
As consultants we have the power to influence decision-making and support businesses as they pivot to more sustainable business practices, that benefit both the planet and the economy.
Alice Tidswell, Atkins
Read the previous article in the series on water sustainability.