On Wednesday 12 June 2019, Turner & Townsend hosted the bi-annual UKGBC Infrastructure Forum, which this time focussed on climate resilience, green infrastructure (GI) and biodiversity. Fortuitously the forum took place the day after Theresa May announced the UK pledge for net zero (greenhouse gas) emissions by 2050.

The UK has taken the global lead in this commitment, being the first major economy to introduce a legally-binding target. However, the climate will still change even if this ambitious target is met. To tackle the multifaceted challenges faced by our environment we need to start taking action to adapt. We can do this in a way that enhances the natural environment by utilising GI and promoting biodiversity.

To meet this ambition stakeholders need to work together. This means not only working with clients, designers, consultants, contractors, and the many other stakeholders involved in our projects and programmes, it also means working in partnership with our peers. UKGBC is one platform that provides us with that opportunity.

During the forum we heard from a range of speakers, representing the Environment Agency, the Building Research Establishment (BRE), Heathrow and our own Gareth Brown (Principal Risk Consultant) who provided an overview of the M6 J13-15 Smart Motorways Project for Highways England.

The discussion focused on ensuring infrastructure is climate resilient and enhances ecosystem services, exploring the ways to overcome barriers to achieve this.

We are seeing an increase in climate change risks materialising in the built environment, with 5.2 million homes and businesses in the UK at risk of flooding already. Climate change adaption strategies are being actioned to ensure we are resilient to climate impacts. The roundtable agreed that any strategy should include:

  • Visionary leadership, political will, and accountability;
  • Better functioning networks, enabling knowledge sharing and collaborative solutions;
  • Changes to contractual arrangements to support a culture of collaboration and further embed whole life/circular economy thinking;
  • Targets aligned with the findings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES).

The built environment offers some of the biggest opportunities to create resilient places, communities, and ecosystems. From a personal perspective, I am excited to have joined Turner & Townsend at this watershed moment and look forward to further embedding sustainability into our business through the projects and programmes we work on with clients.

For information on the UKGBC Infrastructure Forum and to join its mailing list click here

For more information about UKGBC’s work on Climate Resilience click here

For more information about UKGBC’s work on Nature & Biodiversity click here

For more information about Turner & Townsend’s approach to Environmental Stewardship click here