Editor's comment: World Engineering Day...

Author : Mark Gradwell | Editor | EPDT

04 March 2020


Today marks the inaugural World Engineering Day for Sustainable Development, to be celebrated annually every March 4th from 2020. This UNESCO international day of celebration highlights the achievements of engineers & engineering in our modern world, aiming to improve public understanding of how engineering & technology is central to both modern life & sustainable development.

A version of this editorial was originally featured in the March 2020 issue of EPDT magazine [read the digital issue]. Sign up to receive your own copy each month.

The 40th General Conference of UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific & Cultural Organization) adopted a resolution to proclaim 4th March every year World Engineering Day for Sustainable Development in November 2019. Impetus came from a September 2015 UN General Assembly resolution announcing its 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, with 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). These SDGs look to take an integrated approach to future global development, combining progress in economic prosperity and quality of life, equal access and social inclusion, and environmental sustainability.

The World Federation of Engineering Organizations (WFEO), an international non-governmental organisation representing the engineering profession worldwide, proposed the date (its founding date) as part of its 50th anniversary celebrations in 2018. The WFEO received some 80 letters of support from international, national and regional engineering institutions (including the UK’s Royal Academy of Engineering), representing 23 million engineers around the world. The resolution was also backed by member states of UNESCO, with support from more than 40 nations.

Engineers aren’t always 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 engineers”, said WFEO Past President, Dr Marlene Kanga.

Mark Gradwell, Editor, EPDT
Mark Gradwell, Editor, EPDT

Engineering must play a key role in achieving the UN  SDGs, utilising STEM principles to develop practical applications in food, water, energy, infrastructure and environment, sustainable cities, natural disaster resilience and other areas crucial to all mankind. It is also vital to the development of new technologies enabling the 4th Industrial Revolution, such as AI, IoT, robotics and quantum computing. Engineering is at the heart of our modern world and will shape its future – as has been the case for millennia.

This global day of coordinated celebrations is an opportunity to raise awareness of the positive role of engineering – and engage with government and industry to address the need for engineering capacity (and quality) to solve the world’s most pressing problems, as well as to develop strategic frameworks and best practices for the implementation of engineering solutions for sustainable development.

The 17 colours of the UN SDGs are included in the WED logo, representing the commitment to the UN 2030 Agenda. The colours at the centre are for the SDGs for water, energy, sustainable infrastructure and innovation – the main areas where engineers are needed most. The goal for engineering education is also central, reflecting the global need for more engineers with the right engineering skills for sustainable development. The image of the world is incorporated in the logo to show that this is a global day for everyone, and the gears of the logo show that engineers are driving the world forward.

EPDT March 2020 cover_580x280
EPDT March 2020 cover_580x280

World Engineering Day (WED) is also about promoting engineering as a career and an opportunity to change the world for better. There is a great deal to be done to achieve the UN SDGs in developing countries, to ensure that everyone has access to clean water, sanitation, reliable energy, housing, healthcare and other basic human needs. In all countries, there is also much to be done to mitigate and deal with the impacts of climate change, environmental issues, our growing cities and the challenges of new disruptive technologies, including AI.

WED is an opportunity to highlight and discuss these issues, engaging the wider community in the contributions of engineers and engineering – and the work that needs to be done to achieve the UN 2030 Agenda, ensuring that no one is left behind. WED is also an opportunity to engage with young people and say: “If you want to change the world for the better, become an engineer.

EPDT March’s issue also contains features on Display technologies & Communications applications, plus EPDT's twice-yearly Electronics Outsourcing supplement and our ElectroTestExpo show preview. Read more on what's inside EPDT this month...

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