With so many pressures on our planet today – pollution, ozone depletion, global warming, population growth and so on – an 'environmental' approach to solving these problems is arguably not sufficient. What many believe is now needed is a model for sustainable development which addresses current needs without compromising the needs of future generations.
The Engineering Council is a British organization set up by Royal Charter to regulate the engineering profession in the United Kingdom. It has produced a document entitled Guidance on Sustainability for the Engineering Profession, targeted at engineers but useful for any applied science professional wishing to take a pro-active approach to protecting the environment and fostering sustainability in the course of their work.
The guide lists six principles to help guide and motivate professional engineers when making decisions for clients, employers and society which could potentially affect the environment and compromise sustainability. These principles are:
- Contribute to building a sustainable society, present and future
- Apply professional and responsible judgement and take a leadership role
- Do more than just comply with legislation and codes
- Use resources efficiently and effectively
- Seek multiple views to solve sustainability challenges
- Manage risk to minimize adverse impact on people and the environment.