Beca team to tackle UN Sustainable Development Goals at UNLEASH

Four inspiring young Beca professionals with a passion for sustainability attended the 2018 UNLEASH Innovation Lab in Singapore from 30 May - 6 June.

UNLEASH is a non-profit initiative developed as a global platform to tackle the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) agreed in 2015 by all United Nation members. The UNLEASH Innovation Lab 2018 will bring together 1,000 individuals from all over the world to develop real, scalable solutions to the SDGs by 2030.

Meet our four emerging leaders attending the event:

Cladian Andugula – Senior Business Development Advisor, Power

Q. What global challenge area / SDG is your #1 priority to solve and why are you passionate about it?

SDG 12: Responsible Consumption and Production.

I am passionate about responsible consumption and production, and the impact this has on the environment and the community. Current consumer behaviour represents a buy, use and discard culture. There is a need to think innovatively on how manufacturers design products, but also how we can influence and change behaviours of consumers to transition towards a ‘reduce, reuse and recycle’ culture.

This global challenge has amplified the need for circular thinking with manufacturers and product designers to re-evaluate their supply chain, business models and more importantly the materials use for production. Circular Economy can also be leveraged to help consumers reduce their footprint.

My personal goal is to make an impact in the world we live in and to positively change people's perception and behaviours toward a sustainable way of living. Being part of the UNLEASH programme, I hope to positively influence my colleagues at Beca to think about the bigger picture, to amplify and embed SDGs goals in how we operate as an organisation.

Francis Heil – Senior Process Engineer, Industrial

Q. Why are you passionate about Sustainable Development Goal 6: water and sanitation?

I am passionate about improving access to water and sanitation, and creating more sustainable communities through the use of technology, integrated planning, and stakeholder collaboration. This passion was spurred during my adolescence when Australia suffered its most severe drought in 100 years. I witnessed the devastating effects on my community, with businesses shutting down, families losing livelihoods, and farmers taking their own lives.

Through Engineers Without Borders (EWB) I have supported Rainwater Cambodia to improve the construction of ferrocement rainwater tanks, and I’ve supported EWB and iDE to develop a monitoring and evaluation plan for latrines in flood prone communities. I formed a partnership with the Australian Water Association, and have hosted three Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) workshops for water professionals, including a seminar highlighting EWB’s work implementing floating bio-digester toilets in Cambodia, and a seminar on WASH in schools in the Solomon Islands. In the WASH workshops, participants have actively engaged in exploring the challenges of providing services in disadvantaged areas, and I have used my experience to facilitate and steer groups to consider the strengths of communities when tackling complex problems, using a systems based approach.

I hope to embed sustainability into decision making, increase water resilience, and enact the principles of the circular economy by reusing and recycling water, and extracting value and energy from waste.

Natasha Neeve – Process Engineer, Water

Q. What global challenge area / SDG is your #1 priority to solve, and why?

SDG 6: Clean water and sanitation

Being from New Zealand, it's easy to take for granted our relative abundance of fresh water sources. My time as part of the Engineers Without Borders New Zealand (EWBNZ) committee exposed me to the community need and benefits of improved water and sanitation facilities. There are a vast range of issues faced by remote and indigenous communities, and I believe improving water and sanitation to these regions will have wide spread impact beyond making daily life easier and improving health.

However, there are complexities with organisations implementing water solutions in areas where they don’t have a thorough understanding of the local culture and other social factors. If not implemented properly, it is a waste of time, money and does not result in many long term benefits for communities. With the exposure I have had it is clear that development of local knowledge is critical to making projects effective. This will reduce the costs of maintenance and have other positive flow on effects such as employment and empowerment for the community.

I think an international and interdisciplinary approach will be the key to tackling most of the global issues we are facing today and achieve the SDGs.

Daniel Kjestrup – Mechanical Engineer, Industrial

Q: What insight you have had into your first priority SDG 12 – responsible consumption and production?

Heavy industries are a serious culprit when it comes to damaging our environment. Of the heavy industries we work in at Beca, mining is a particularly interesting one when it comes to managing our environmental impact. Mining can cause the destruction of habitat, large carbon emissions, minor earthquakes, and poses some serious health and safety risks especially for underground mining. What makes mining interesting is that we don’t have much of a solution to some of these issues. The energy industry is gradually moving towards renewables, the pulp and paper industry has become a lot cleaner and is largely carbon neutral, but mining new metal is still far more efficient than most forms of metal recycling and is very necessary for modern life.

Another problem facing heavy industries is that ethical purchasing of commodities is barely talked about when compared to the clothing or food industries. Consumers are gradually improving their choices to avoid sweatshop produced clothing or factory farmed meat, but there are little to no concerns over where the bulk products that make up most of our environment come from. Metals and oil are often purchased by large businesses or governments that are far removed from the actual users of the product. For these commodities, sales are purely dependent on price and quality with no regard for ethics. Metal being extracted with modern health and safety practices and with proper consultation of the local community is treated no differently than metal mined under poor conditions.

There would be a serious benefit to the industry if there was a more level playing field when it comes to the ethical and environmental behaviour of different mines.

Our team will be sharing updates from the conference during the week, so keep an eye on our Beca LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram.

L to R: Natasha Neeve, Cladian Andugula, Francis Heil and Daniel Kjestrup.


See also 2018