UNESCO Director General addresses the World Engineering Forum
In a video message to the participants of the 2012 World Engineering Forum, organized under the theme "Sustainable Construction for People", UNESCO Director General Irina Bokova stressed how closely this theme resonates with UNESCO’s work to harness the power of science for sustainability and the aims of its Engineering Initiative.
'Engineering has many solutions for strengthening the resilience of our societies -- while tackling poverty, nurturing our resources and responding to climate change. This starts with the buildings where we work, the homes we live in' said Ms Bokova.
The building and construction industry accounts for one third of global carbon emissions, and it is estimated that buildings consume 30% to 40% of global energy. The current environmental crisis poses new challenges to the building and construction industry, in areas where engineering can provide innovative alternatives such as energy-neutral housing and energy efficiency, construction materials and practices, recycling and reuse of materials.
Small changes can make a big difference. For instance, UNESCO’s Better Buildings Programme encourages schools to collect storm runoff to water gardens, to use solar light and heating, to plant both inside and on rooftops – all of this to improve the sustainability of school buildings and the health of students.
In her message, the Director General also considered social and cultural aspects, saying: 'We all know also the importance of construction for the quality of life, for social cohesion. There are no ‘one-size-fits-all’ solutions for sustainable construction. Design must reflect a community’s history and environment, its cultural heritage and aesthetic aspirations, drawing on traditional practices and adapting them to new needs.
These factors build what we call a ‘sense of place,’ in harmony with context and people.'
UNESCO specialists will be participating in the Forum, which brings together engineers, politicians, researchers, scientists and entrepreneurs from all over the world from 17 to 21 September 2012 in Ljubljana, Slovenia, to present and exchange their opinions about the sustainable construction of buildings and infrastructure, a major challenge of the 21st century.