Engineering for A Healthy Planet
Engineering is one of the keys to sustainable development, and in order to unlock all its potential, there needs to be more equality in the world.Audrey Azoulay
UNESCO proclaimed the World Engineering Day for Sustainable Development and is celebrated worldwide on 4th March every year since 2020. The day was chosen to recall the World Federation of Engineering Organizations (WFEO). It is one of the latest additions of observations led by international organisations like UNESCO and the UN. It is an opportunity to highlight the importance of engineering achievements and engineers’ contributions to transforming societies. Engineering and technology are central to achieving sustainable development. Engineering has always had an essential role in the development and human welfare. Ensuring that future generations of engineers and scientists will design solutions for local and global challenges is critical. Technology is the gateway to the future. Several countries observe engineer’s day on various dates of the year. In India, it is celebrated on 15th September to pay tribute to the greatest Indian Engineer Bharat Ratna Visvesvaraya.
A lot is yet to be done to achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals. More importantly, in developing countries. The World Engineering Day 2021 will focus on celebrating the launch of 2nd UNESCO Engineering Report on “Engineering for Sustainable Development: Delivering on the Sustainable Development Goals”. Ten years after the publication of the 1st report, “Engineering: Issues, Challenges and Opportunities for Development”, the new report highlights the crucial role of engineering in realising sustainable development goals. The day is also an opportunity to engage with the government and industry to address the need for engineering capacity and engineers’ quality around the world. UNESCO is placing a high priority on promoting engineering awareness as a career and the importance of youth studying science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).
The challenges are many. Some of them are: Inclusive and gender-equitable engineering profession, understanding the regional trends and achieving global cooperation with multiple stakeholders to promote all-round development. Women have been historically underrepresented in engineering fields (10-20% of the engineering workforce). Even though the numbers of women studying STEM have increased in some countries, it has not got translated into more women entering the workplace.
India has the largest numbers of engineers and the largest number of engineering education institutes and infrastructure in the world. Even though India annually produces one million engineering graduates, there is a significant skill gap. Employability is a challenge the country is facing.
The world is currently going through a time when it is forced to kneel to the threat of the COVID-19 pandemic. The speed with which it has spread, leaving no country on the globe untouched. Researchers, health professionals and many have taken the battle to the boundary of containing and conquering. The success achieved in finding a vaccine at such a short duration gives hope. If the world unites, it can find solutions to many unsolved problems the world is facing. Observations days like these are to reassure what we have done in the past and can do now.
Engineers are not very good at articulating the value of engineering and the impact that engineers and engineering have on society. This is a wonderful opportunity to talk about these aspects and engage the community in the work of engineersMarlene Kanga
Former President of the World Federation of Engineering Organizations
Developments in the domain of science and technology have been changing the world. With new technologies like Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, CRISPER, gene editing, humanity is at the crossroads of great opportunity for positive transformation that leaves no one behind. It is the responsibility of all those in the decision making to ensure the growth is all-round equitable and reduce the disparities.