The ICE, SDGs and Highways UK – a story

I’m loving the challenge of my role as Local Authorities Manager for Highways UK 2019. The research for each of the 8 sessions on the Ringway Local Authorities Hub, supported by ADEPT and LGTAG, has been fascinating.

With 4 weeks to go until the show (6-7 November at the NEC) I thought I’d help you get the best out of your visit by sharing a few of the deeper insights I’ve learnt with you as the programme has developed.

Today we explore why we’ve brought together the ICE, Contented Ltd, Southampton City Council, Balfour Beatty and LGTAG to deliver the session ‘What colour is your Umbrella? – Climate change readiness’ on 7th November at the Ringway Local Authority Hub.

As you’ll see in weeknotes #2, I’ve been on a mission for the last 10 years to find ways to help the local highways sector gather its voice, represent the fantastic work that teams deliver every single day, and make some progress in conquering the storytelling gremlin.

So in this blogpost, we’ll explore why the Institution of Civil Engineers embraced the UN Sustainable Development Goals, and how ‘Telling the Story’ made it into their Sustainability Route Map.

Story for Engineers, here we go….

Planning for the Global Engineering Congress in October 2018, the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) were looking for something that would work as a universal touchpoint, that would enable focus of effort that all could buy into.

The United Nations Sustainable Development Goal (SDGs) provided this shared framework, as something that is universally accepted.

The five-day congress brought civil engineers together from around the world to share their work and explore how this might connect with the UNSDGs.  The strapline for the event was: ‘Mobilising the global engineering community to deliver the Sustainable Development Goals.’

Feedback gathered throughout the week-long congress informed the ICE’s three-year Sustainability Routemap, launched in May 2019, which is being delivered through three working groups: 

  • 1) Measuring, monitoring and reporting – translating high level things down to practical, measurable progress at project and programme level
  • 2) Systems approach – moving from silo to broader impacts
  • 3) Knowledge sharing – increasing SDG knowledge through education and continuing professional development (CPD)

As the graphic of the three-year routemap shows (below), the activities of the working groups, together with national and international partners, falls under three broader categories:

  • Capacity building
  • Leadership, Advocacy and Collaboration
  • Telling the story
ICE Sustainability Route Map summary, click for source

Ask anyone in local highways what the biggest barriers are to them doing their jobs effectively, and they will say lack of funding, specifically for maintenance, and loss of skills, staff and expertise.  

Another recognised barrier is the lack training to enable them translate the value of the work they do and convey its impact to others on society and the environment.  

The ICE team behind the development of the Sustainability Route Map recognised similar challenges facing the engineering community. They realised that for engineers to be able to connect the value of our work to improving society and others lives, ‘Telling the Story’ would need to be an essential component of the plan.
So its fantastic to see the ICE, the professional institution which many of our infrastructure staff are members, setting out a framework that includes ‘telling the story’  as a core component.
To think I might not have come across this if it wasn’t for the challenge set in May 2019 by Felicia Jackson, of Contented Ltd, to explore the relevance of SDGs in our own sphere of work.

You can listen here to the 15 minute introduction to the business opportunity around the UN SDGs that Felicia Jackson of Contented gave to participants in the Contented 2019 ONTENTE programme. The three-month summer programme helps those who want to communicate better to learn the skills and experience necessary to do so.

‘What Colour is your Umbrella? – Climate change readiness’ on 7th November 2019 on the Ringway Local Authorities Hub at Highways UK brings together the work of the ICE on the Sustainability Route Map, Contented’s Felicia Jackson sharing insights on in low carbon tech and sustainable finance, Contented’s work to improve story for business, and the priority that LGTAG face in helping members respond to the recent declarations of Climate Emergency by local councils.

For further details see this LGTAG blogpost: What Colour is your Umbrella? – climate change readiness at Highways UK

There are many more local authority focused sessions at Highways UK, offering over a hundred speakers, making it one of the largest and most significant events for local authority highways professionals in the transport calendar.

Highways UK is all totally FREE to attend and accredited for CPD by CIHT. Register here for your free place today.

Related blogposts:

ICE – Measuring Infrastructure Project Impact across the SDGs
ICE – How gamification can help us achieve the SDGs
Contented – Addressing climate change and other complex issues

Image credit: Institution of Civil Engineers Sustainability Route Map.