natural environment

SFE 2016 DUBLIN – A Benchmark Fire Engineering Event !

2015-11-06 !   We are very pleased to announce that the Fire Safe Europe Alliancewww.firesafeeurope.eu … has become actively involved, together with Glasgow Caledonian University and FireOx International, in co-hosting SFE 2016 DUBLIN.  To facilitate the Network’s full engagement and provide sufficient time for promotion, etc … it was jointly agreed that the new dates for this Event shall be from 28-30 September 2016.

We have every confidence that SFE 2016 DUBLIN will now be a much better event … having a wider range of stakeholder participation.

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2015-06-29 …

Sustainable Fire Engineering – Effective Fire Safety for All in Sustainable Buildings !
28-30 September 2016      Dublin, Ireland
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www.sustainable-firengineering.ie  or  www.sfe-fire.eu
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Approved Regional Sustainable Built Environment Conference in the 2016-17 Series
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The Gresham Hotel, O’Connell Street, Dublin, Ireland

Céad Míle Fáilte (Hundred Thousand Welcomes) to Dublin, in Ireland … and to the First International Conference devoted to this complex subject !

The 21st Century has had a cruel and savage birth: extreme man-made events, hybrid disasters, severe natural events, complex humanitarian emergencies, with accelerating climate change and variability.  The old certainties are crumbling before our eyes …

The resolute Answer to these threats and the rapidly changing social and environmental needs of our world is Sustainable Fire Engineering !

•  SFE fulfils a critical role in the realization of a Safe, Resilient & Sustainable Built Environment for All ;
•  SFE facilitates positive progress towards the United Nation’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals & 169 Performance Targets, which were adopted in September 2015 ;
•  SFE fast-tracks proper compliance with the Basic Requirements for Construction Works in the European Union’s Construction Products Regulation 305/2011 (Annex I), specifically the interlinked Requirements 7, 2, 1, 3 & 4.

Please join us in an informal, multidisciplinary and pre-normative forum … as we examine Sustainable Fire Engineering more deeply.Event Logo for SFE 2016 DUBLIN

INTRODUCTION to SFE 2016 DUBLIN

Fire Losses – both direct and indirect – amount to a very significant percentage of GDP in all economies, whether they are rich or poor … and result in enormous environmental damage and social disruption.  Fire Engineering, including Fire Prevention and Protection in Buildings, is a major multi-billion Euro/Dollar component of the Construction Industrial Sector – worldwide.

Unfortunately … a fundamental conflict exists between Sustainable Building Design Strategies and the fire safety responses adopted in today’s Conventional Fire Engineering.  To take a simple example: for cooling, heating or ventilation purposes in a Sustainable Building, it is necessary to take advantage of natural unobstructed patterns of air movement in that building.  On the other hand, fire engineers in private practice and control personnel in Authorities Having Jurisdiction (AHJ’s) will demand that building spaces be tightly compartmented in order to limit the spread of fire and smoke … dramatically interfering with those natural patterns of air movement.

Unusual fire behaviour and a range of difficult fire safety issues (critical, in the case of firefighters) also arise from the Innovative Design Features (for example, ‘green’ roofs, elaborate intelligent façades) and Building Products / Systems (for example, photovoltaic panels) being installed in Sustainable Buildings.

A wide chasm separates the language and understanding of these two very different design disciplines.  As a result, the performance of Sustainable Buildings can be seriously compromised.  If, on the other hand, adequate independent technical control is absent on site … it is fire safety which is weakened.

And because, in most countries, the emphasis is placed on pre-construction design intent rather than the ‘real’ performance of the completed/occupied building … these problems are ignored and remain hidden … until a serious fire breaks out !

SUSTAINABLE FIRE ENGINEERING’s AIM

The Aim of Sustainable Fire Engineering is to dramatically reduce all direct and indirect fire losses in the Human Environment (including social, built, economic, environmental, virtual, and institutional) … and to protect the Natural Environment.

Towards Zero Preventable Fires in the Built Environment !

In essence … Sustainable Fire Engineering heavily front-loads Fire Prevention and Fire Protection Measures … above and beyond the minimal and very limited fire safety objectives mandated by current legislation.

SFE’s Key Concepts are … RealityReliabilityRedundancyResilience !

SFE Design Solutions are …

  • Adapted to local geography, climate change and variability, social need, economy, and culture ;
  • Reliability-based ;
  • Person-centred ;
  • Resilient.

SFE 2016 DUBLIN OBJECTIVES

1.  To initiate discussion and foster mutual understanding between the International Sustainable Development / Climate Change / Urban Resilience Communities and the International Fire Science & Engineering Community.
2.  To bring together today’s disparate Sectors within the International Fire Science and Engineering Community … to encourage better communication between each and trans-disciplinary collaboration between all.
3.  To transform Conventional Fire Engineering into an ethical and fully professional Sustainable Design Discipline which is fit for purpose in the 21st Century … meaning … that fire engineers can participate actively in a sustainable design process, and can respond creatively with sustainable fire engineering design solutions which result in Effective Fire Safety for All in Sustainable Buildings.
4.  To launch a CIB W14 Research Working Group VI Reflection Document: ‘Sustainable Fire Engineering Design & Construction’ … which will establish a framework for discussion on the future development of Sustainable Fire Engineering.

SFE 2016 DUBLIN WEBSITE

Today !   Visit the SFE 2016 DUBLIN Website at … www.sustainable-firengineering.ie  or  www.sfe-fire.eu

Download the Information on the Links Page … Review the wide range of Topics which will be examined and discussed at SFE 2016 DUBLIN … Submit an Abstract for a Paper … and Give serious consideration to becoming an Industry Exhibitor, or an Enlightened, Far-sighted Sponsor !!

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‘Creative Architecture In Context’ – An Ancient Concept !

2014-09-01:  Continuing on from where I left off on this topic …

Creative Architecture In Context is not a revolutionary concept … not even a new concept … it is an ancient concept … practiced long, long before the pompous Architect of the 19th Century was born … and even before he was a gleam of excitement in his father’s eye !

The Kinkaku-ji Temple … also known as The Golden Pavilion … is a Buddhist Temple in the north-west of central Kyoto City, Japan.  Very briefly … this building was commissioned in 1394 by Ashikaga Yoshimitsu (1358-1408), Japan’s 3rd Shogun, and completed in 1397.  In accordance with his final wishes, it was transformed into a Zen Temple of the Rinzai School in 1419.

The Temple is a simple, elegant building … but, it exists in a specific setting … a landscape of Zen-style gardens, and a large pond which reflects the building.  The pond (Kyoko-chi) was there before the Temple was built.

Kinkaku-ji Temple (The Golden Pavilion) In Context - Kyoto, Japan.

Look beyond the Building !  Photograph taken by CJ Walsh.  2010-04-24.  Click to enlarge.

The landscaping around the building is a fine example of Muromachi-period (14th-16th Centuries) garden design … considered a classical age in Japan … where the relationship between a building and its setting was greatly emphasized … in a precise artistic way, fully integrating the structure within the landscape … resulting in a dynamic, harmonious balance between building and nature.

Kinkaku-ji Temple (The Golden Pavilion) In Context - Kyoto, Japan.

Detail of its Setting in the Landscape, and the Building.  Photograph taken by CJ Walsh. 2010-04-24.  Click to enlarge.

In this example … the word ‘Architecture’, on its own, is entirely inadequate to describe the symbiotic relationship between this building and its setting/context.  Prefixes, such as ‘eco-‘ or ‘bio-‘ or ‘whatever-‘ before ‘Architecture’ … are also far too weak to communicate either the meaning or the importance of this relationship.

A Radically New Term is Necessary …

ECOLOGY+ARCHITECTURE

Its setting … nature, landscape, plants and animals, etc … must be considered at the earliest stages of a building’s design … with the aim of achieving, in the completed construction, a dynamic and harmonious balance between the two.

This is not how Architecture is taught today in the schools … or practiced by professionals, who are constrained by conventional and overly restrictive boundaries … and cannot or do not, therefore, look beyond their own buildings.

This must change !

And of course … the concept of Creative Architecture In Context must be re-interpreted and implemented in a manner which is suitably adapted to the 21st Century … but that is a story for another day !!

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To The Barricades ! … Creative Architecture In Context !!

2014-08-28:  Earlier this month … the final straw … as I caught up on a ‘piece’ in McGraw Hill’s Architectural Record … which reproduced an original, intriguing article from designMENA.com, posted on 12 August 2014, by Nick Ames …

Rebel Architects Star In New TV Show

Qatar-based broadcaster Al Jazeera is to show a series of films focusing on radical architects from Pakistan, Brazil, Nigeria, Spain, Palestine and Vietnam.  The series – entitled ‘Rebel Architecture’ – focuses on architects using design to confront urban, environmental and social problems in their communities.

Dan Davies, producer of the series, said: “We couldn’t help noticing that despite all the problems afflicting humanity, many of which architecture uniquely has the ability to assist and even solve, most of the mainstream and architectural press celebrates the aesthetics of huge iconic projects, marvelling at insanely complicated ways to fold giant sheets of metal.”

“As we face issues from floods and natural disasters to an explosion of urban populations, soaring inequality and displacement through conflict, architecture seems wholly absent.  So we wanted to look beyond the discussion of the aesthetics of Star-chitecture and see what architects outside the mainstream are doing.”

The six-part series, which starts on 18 August, begins with a film documenting the work of Spanish architect Santiago Cirugeda, who uses his knowledge of planning law to occupy abandoned properties and to build structures on unused land.

It also features Pakistani architect Yasmeen Lari, who designs disaster relief shelters and Eyal Weizman, professor of spatial and visual cultures at Goldsmiths University, who explores the way the built environment is used as an instrument of occupation.

In Vietnam, the series follows Vo Trong Nghia, whose projects focus on open spaces and sustainable design, while in Nigeria, Kunlé Adeyemi has designed floating buildings to solve issues of flooding and overcrowding.

The final episode explores Rocinha, the largest favela in Brazil, with builder Ricardo de Oliveira, and master planner Luis Toledo.

“The rebel architects have to push boundaries, but they must also look beyond their own buildings,” said Davies.  “They start by looking at the wider context in which they live – be it Spain hit by the financial crisis, or Pakistan ravaged by floods – and work out how they can change the status quo with architecture.”

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I SAY …

Shouldn’t every Architect be concerned about the issues raised in Nick’s article ?   And if not … why not ??

Architecture is a wide and complex field of human creative, artistic and scientific endeavour.  Yet in the international and national media, both mainstream and architectural … it does appear, as presented, to be narrowly confined to the “aesthetics of huge iconic projects”, and “insanely complicated ways to fold giant sheets of metal”.  And the various media continue to focus on and enthusiastically applaud the current, outrageous phallic skyscraper contest in, for example, the Arab Gulf Region, China and South-East Asia … a contest which is actively promoted by such international organizations as the US-based Council on Tall Buildings & Urban Habitat.  [ I might add … with entirely insufficient attention being paid to fire safety, resilience and sustainability in those Super-Tall Buildings !! ]

If Santiago Cirugeda, Yasmeen Lari, Eyal Weizman, Vo Trong Nghia, Kunlé Adeyemi, Ricardo de Oliveira, and Luis Toledo are indeed Rebels … [ I would argue that they most definitely are not ] … and each one is working in isolation … then we must urgently instigate a Revolution

Creative Architecture In Context !!

 

PRINCIPAL BARRIER …

The Institutional Framework of Today’s Conventional Architecture … typically developed to promote and protect a 19th Century Model of Architectural Practice … exerts a powerful stranglehold over the architectural profession and the schools of architecture in many countries.  It is no longer ‘fit for purpose’ in the 21st Century !

Here in Ireland … a few days before reading the Nick Ames article … I attended a long Extraordinary General Meeting of the Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland (RIAI) … called by 10 Institute Members to demand urgent, concerted action from the Institute’s Council in response to the new and very flawed Building Control Amendment Regulations (Statutory Instruments Nos.9 & 105 of 2014), which came into effect from 1 March 2014.

Far from being an enlightening and pleasurable occasion … for many small reasons, it was annoying and frustrating.  The biggest reason of all, however, was that I saw no evidence whatever that either Council or the Membership understands the simple, fundamental truth that … self-regulation/self-certification does NOT work !

Refer back to my previous post.

The General Public in Ireland … also known as ‘The Long-Suffering Consumer’ … does not trust the Medical and Legal Professions to self-regulate, despite the vociferous protestations from both that their internal regulatory systems are packed-packed-packed with civilians.  Yes … ‘selected’ civilians !

That particular evening in the Davenport Hotel, Dublin … the RIAI’s Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM) went nowhere … aided and abetted by Council Members at the head table. It was interesting to note that none of the 10 Institute Members who had called the meeting had a seat at that same table.

As we exit the Profound Economic Crisis following the Extravagant Celtic Tiger Years … and coldly look around us … we witness an architectural profession lost in a contextual wilderness – urban, environmental and social – while fumbling around in a legal and political maze.  And, every day, we experience a sprawling, ugly, depressing and unsustainable built environment which is engaged in a sad and brutal conflict with nature.

It has taken at least a generation … but the RIAI has directly overseen the slow and progressive dilution of what it means to be an Architect in Ireland.

Time for The Revolution … To The Barricades !!

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Sustainable Human & Social Development – Reloaded !

2014-04-13:  Further to the Post, dated 2013-01-13

There are many essential qualities and features belonging to and representative of a Sustainable Human Environment (including the Social, Built, Virtual and Economic Environments).  As discussed here many times before … Accessibility-for-All is one fundamental attribute, under Social and Legal Aspects of Sustainable Human and Social Development.

Another fundamental attribute … Urban Resilience … is now moving centre stage in the world of International Construction Research & Practice.  WHEN, not if … this concept is fully elaborated and understood, it will have a profound impact on All Tasks, Activities and Types of Performance in the Human Environment … under All Aspects of Sustainable Human and Social Development.

After working for many years on Climate Change, particularly Adaptation … it was quite natural for me to encounter the concept of Resilience.  But the aim of a newly established Core Task Group within CIB (International Council for Research & Innovation in Building & Construction) is to widen out this concept to also include Severe Natural Events (e.g. earthquakes, typhoons, tsunamis), Complex Humanitarian Emergencies, (e.g. regional famines, mass human migrations), Extreme Man-Made Events (e.g. 2001 WTC 9-11 Attack, 2008 Mumbai ‘Hive’ Attacks), and Hybrid Disasters (e.g. 2011 Fukushima Nuclear Incident) … to set down Resilience Benchmarks … and to produce Resilience Performance Indicators.  An imposing challenge !

AND … as Urbanization is proceeding at such a rapid pace in the BRICS Countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China & South Africa) and throughout the rest of the Southern Hemisphere … ‘practical’ and ‘easily assimilated’ trans-disciplinary output from this CIB Task Group is urgently required.  In other words, the work of the Task Group must not be permitted to become an exercise in long drawn out pure academic research … the clear focus must be on ‘real’ implementation … As Soon As Is Practicable !!

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A New and Updated Groundwork …

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SUSTAINABLE DESIGN

The ethical design response, in resilient built and/or wrought form, to the concept of Sustainable Human & Social Development.

SUSTAINABLE HUMAN & SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT

Development which meets the responsible needs, i.e. the human and social rights*, of this generation – without stealing the life and living resources from the next seven future generations.

*As defined in the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights … and augmented by UN OHCHR Letter, dated 6 June 2013, on the Post-2015 Development Agenda.

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The CITY (as Region)

A geographical region, with open and flexible boundaries, consisting of:

(a)              An interwoven, densely constructed core (built environment) ;

(b)              A large resident population of more than 500,000 people (social environment) ;

(c)              A supporting hinterland of lands, waters and other natural resources (cultivated landscape) ;

together functioning as …

(i)                 a complex living system (analogous to, yet different from, other living systems such as ecosystems and organisms) ;     and

(ii)               a synergetic community capable of providing a high level of individual welfare, and social wellbeing for all of its inhabitants.

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SOCIAL WELLBEING

A general condition – in a community, society or culture – of health, happiness, creativity, responsible fulfilment, and sustainable development.

INDIVIDUAL WELFARE

A person’s general feeling of health, happiness and fulfilment.

HUMAN HEALTH

A state of complete physical, mental and social wellbeing, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.     [World Health Organization]

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SOCIAL ENVIRONMENT

The complex network of real and virtual human interaction – at a communal or larger group level – which operates for reasons of tradition, culture, business, pleasure, information exchange, institutional organization, legal procedure, governance, human betterment, social progress and spiritual enlightenment, etc.

The social environment shapes, binds together, and directs the future development of the built and virtual environments.

BUILT ENVIRONMENT

Anywhere there is, or has been, a man-made or wrought (worked) intervention by humans in the natural environment, e.g. cities, towns, villages, rural settlements, service utilities, transport systems, roads, bridges, tunnels, and cultivated lands, lakes, rivers, coasts, seas, etc … including the virtual environment.

VIRTUAL ENVIRONMENT

A designed environment, electronically generated from within the built environment, which may have the appearance, form, functionality and impact – to the person perceiving and actually experiencing it – of a real, imagined and/or utopian world.

The virtual and built environments continue to merge into a new augmented reality.

ECONOMIC ENVIRONMENT

The intricate web of real and virtual human commercial activity – operating at micro and macro-economic levels – which facilitates, supports, but sometimes hampers or disrupts, human interaction in the social environment.

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And So To Work !!

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SDSN’s Action Agenda for Sustainable Development & SDG’s ?!?

2013-05-23:  The U.N. Secretary-General, Ban Ki-Moon, announced the launch of the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) on 9 August 2012.

UN SDSN is structured around 12 Thematic Groups of scientific and technical experts – from academia, civil society, and the private sector – who work in support of Sustainable Development Problem Solving at local, national, and global scales … and to identify and highlight best practices.  They also provide technical support to the High-Level Panel of Eminent Persons on the Post-2015 Development Agenda.

UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) Logo

The world has changed profoundly since the year 2000, when the UN Millennium Declaration and the Millennium Development Goals (MDG’s) were adopted by the United Nations.  Four critical shifts make the coming fifteen-year period, 2015-2030, different from the MDG period, 2000-2015:  (i) a drastically higher human impact on the physical Earth;  (ii) rapid technological change;  (iii) increasing inequality;  and (iv) a growing diffusion and complexity of governance.

These problems will expand, dangerously beyond our control, without an urgent and radical transformation in how we organize society.  The world now needs an operational Sustainable Development Framework which can mobilize all key actors (national & local governments, civil society, business, science and academia) in every country to move away from the Business-as-Usual (BaU) Trajectory towards a Sustainable Development (SD) Path.  This Framework and the SDG’s identify the main objectives and strategies needed to transform from BaU to SD.

The purpose of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s) is to help translate global aspirations into practical actions.  In this regard, SDSN has subscribed to the ‘Rio+20’ Agreement that the SDG’s should be ‘action-oriented, concise and easy to communicate, limited in number, aspirational, global in nature and universally applicable to all countries while taking into account different national realities, capacities and levels of development, and respecting national policies and priorities’.

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SDI’s Comments on the Draft ‘Action Agenda for Sustainable Development & Sustainable Development Goals’ …

[ Submitted by e-mail, yesterday (2013-05-22), to the U.N. Sustainable Development Solutions Network.]

1.   The problems with this Draft Document, dated 7 May 2013, are fundamental and profound.  Our Organization will be happy to assist the Network (SDSN) in improving the text.

2.   At this time, however, we would like to bring to your attention some urgent overarching issues:

  • Amend the Title … refer directly to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s).  See above.
  • As drafted, the text does not show that … or explain how … there is a robust Interdependence between the different Sustainable Development Goals.
  • Indeed, the scale and immediacy of the Sustainable Development Challenges are unprecedented.  The Network (SDSN) must now, therefore, take the brave and difficult step of placing the Sustainable Development Goals in order of priority.  Do not allow yourselves to be shackled by the approach taken in the earlier Millennium Development Goals !
  • In this Document, All of the texts dealing with ‘Governance’ are ambiguous, weak and embarrassingly inadequate.  References to the Institutional, Political, Legal and Judicial Aspects of ‘Governance’ are both necessary, and required.
  • The word ‘access’ is used very often and very generally in the Document.  BUT … in order for People with Activity Limitations (2001 WHO ICF) to ‘access’ facilities and services in the Built (including Virtual), Social and Economic Environments, and to be included and participate fully in their local communities … it is an ESSENTIAL prerequisite that those Environments are effectively ACCESSIBLE-FOR-ALL !   This concept is not mentioned once in the Document … a very serious omission.

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Updates:  2013-06-07 & 2013-07-22 …

The SDSN Final Report is Fundamentally and Profoundly INADEQUATE !

Immediately below that … see Extracts from the Letter of Navanethem Pillay, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, dated 6 June 2013 … addressed to All Permanent Missions in New York and Geneva.

UN SDSN's 'An Action Agenda for Sustainable Development' - Final Report Cover6 June 2013 – Final Report

UN SDSN’s ‘An Action Agenda for Sustainable Development’ (Final)

Click the Link Above to read and/or download PDF File (1.91 MB)

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” Twenty years ago this June, the World Conference on Human Rights convened at Vienna to forge a new vision for our world, one founded on a recognition of the fundamental interdependence between democracy, development and human rights.  In the tail of a blood-stained and deprived century, the whispered call was for dignity, equality, justice, rights.  And what began as a murmur in Vienna grew in volume and force with each global conference: Copenhagen and Beijing in 1995, Durban in 2001, New York in 2005 and again in 2010, and Rio in 2012.  In recent years, the murmur has become a roar, echoing across societies on all continents, from victims denied redress, older persons denied respect, youth denied hope, and activists demanding a better way.  From this call, we have learned much about the imperatives of sustainable development.  There will be no development without equality, no progress without freedom, no peace without justice, no sustainability without human rights.”

“All that is required is the political will to move beyond the failed approaches of the past, to chart a fresh course, and to embrace a new paradigm of development built on the foundation of human rights, equality and sustainability.”

1.     The Post-2015 Agenda must be built on a human rights-based approach, in both process and substance.

2.     The new agenda must address both sides of the development challenge – that is freedom from both fear and want.

3.     The imperative of equality must underpin the entire framework.

4.     Marginalized, disempowered and excluded groups, previously locked out of development, must have a place in the new agenda.

5.     We must commit to ending poverty.

6.     The new framework must advance a healthy environment, as an underlying determinant of internationally guaranteed human rights.

7.     The Universal Declaration of Human Rights guarantees the right to an international order in which human rights can be fully realized.  Similarly, the UN Declaration on the Right to Development mandates international reform to ensure human rights-based policy coherence at the international level.  In the wake of the global financial, food, climate and energy crises, and in the context of growing disparities and historic governance failures at all levels, the credibility and effectiveness of the Post-2015 Agenda will therefore depend also on the degree to which it addresses this pressing need for human rights-based reforms at international level.

8.     The Post-2015 Agenda should be universally applicable.

9.     The Post-2015 Agenda must include a strong accountability framework.

10.   In the wake of the devastating global financial crisis, and revelations of abusive business practices in all regions, it is clear that responsibility for human rights-based development in the Post-2015 period must extend to actors in the private sector, as well.

6 June 2013 – United Nations OHCHR, Geneva

‘Human Rights in the Post-2015 Agenda’ – Letter from the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to All Permanent Missions in New York and Geneva

Click the Link Above to read and/or download PDF File (642 Kb)

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Spectacular Dawn over Amandola (FM), in Italy – 28 April 2013 !

2013-05-02:   Yes, that is the moon … yes, that is a rainbow … yes, those are the Sibillini Mountains still sketched with snow … yes, those are the cloud formations and colours at one moment during a spectacular dawn over Amandola at 06.12 hrs on Sunday morning, 28 April 2013 …

Spectacular Dawn over Amandola (FM), in Italy - 28 April 2013

Photograph taken by CJ Walsh. 2013-04-28. Click to enlarge.

Taking a photograph is a distraction from the ‘real’ experience … it fails to capture and communicate the ‘person-centred’ feeling …

And I can imagine more comfortable words to describe this scene … ‘spiritual’, ‘transcendental’, ‘metaphysical’, ‘mystical’, ‘supernatural’ …

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Climate Change Adaptation – Swallowing Our Own Medicine ?!?

 2013-01-07:   The Dawn of a New Year …

Colour image of a Japanese Print: 'Sunrise on New Year's Day at Susaki', dating from the mid-1830's, by the artist Hiroshige. Click to enlarge.

Colour image of a Japanese Print: ‘Sunrise on New Year’s Day at Susaki’, dating from the mid-1830’s, by the artist Hiroshige. Click to enlarge.

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High Noon for a Festering Planetary Issue … Our Little Planet …

Based on ‘real’ measurements around the world during 2011, the state of Greenhouse Gases (GHG’s) in the Atmosphere is steadily becoming worse … and, following the latest shindig in Doha (UNFCCC – COP 18), the prospect of an effective global agreement on Climate Change Mitigation entering into legal force, anytime soon, is even more remote than ever !

UN WMO Greenhouse Gas Bulletin No.8 – 19 November 2012

Colour image of Figure 1, from the U.N. World Meteorological Organization's Greenhouse Gas Bulletin No.8 (2012-11-19), showing ... Atmospheric Radiative Forcing, relative to 1750, of Long-Lived Greenhouse Gases (LLGHG's), and the 2011 Update of the U.S. National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration's Annual Greenhouse Gas Index (AGGI). Click to enlarge.

Colour image of Figure 1, from the U.N. World Meteorological Organization’s Greenhouse Gas Bulletin No.8 (2012-11-19), showing … Atmospheric Radiative Forcing, relative to 1750, of Long-Lived Greenhouse Gases (LLGHG’s), and the 2011 Update of the U.S. National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration’s Annual Greenhouse Gas Index (AGGI). Click to enlarge.

WMO GHG Bulletin No.8 – Executive Summary:

The latest analysis of observations from the WMO Global Atmosphere Watch (GAW) Programme shows that the globally averaged mole fractions of Carbon Dioxide (CO2), Methane (CH4) and Nitrous Oxide (N2O) reached new highs in 2011, with CO2 at 390.9±0.1 parts per million, CH4 at 1813±2 parts per billion, and N2O at 324.2±0.1 parts per billion.  These values constitute 140%, 259% and 120% of pre-industrial (before 1750) levels, respectively.  The atmospheric increase of CO2 from 2010 to 2011 is similar to the average growth rate over the past 10 years.  However, for N2O the increase from 2010 to 2011 is greater than both the one observed from 2009 to 2010 and the average growth rate over the past 10 years.  Atmospheric CH4 continued to increase at a similar rate as observed over the last 3 years.  The NOAA Annual Greenhouse Gas Index shows that from 1990 to 2011 radiative forcing by Long-Lived Greenhouse Gases (LLGHG’s) increased by 30%, with CO2 accounting for about 80% of this increase.

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Climate Change Adaptation

Encompasses urgent and immediate actions at local, national, regional and international levels … to reduce the vulnerability and strengthen the resilience of the Human Environment, including ecological and social systems, institutions and economic sectors … to present and future adverse effects of climate change, including variability and extremes, and the impacts of response measure implementation … in order to minimize the local threats to life, human health, livelihoods, food security, assets, amenities, ecosystems and sustainable development.

Climate Change Adaptation is also the most important driving force for Sustainable Human & Social Development.

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A few weeks ago, The World Bank (International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, based in Washington D.C.) … an Institution which is not at all shy about dishing out harsh medicine to the Developing World … published a report on Climate Change Adaptation in the Middle East and North Africa/ Arab Region.

What I immediately wondered was … how would we, in the Developed World, like a taste of this same medicine … our own medicine … and would we swallow ?!?

The European Commission has still not produced an E.U. Climate Change Adaptation Strategy or Plan.

In Ireland … our National Climate Change Strategy (2007-2012) has just lapsed, with no replacement in sight … and, confirming a lack of both political leadership and institutional capacity … any mention of the word ‘Adaptation’ creates either panic or apathy … depending on the individual, and his/her responsibilities.

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So … as appropriate, just substitute your own country wherever there is a reference to ‘Arab Region’ or ‘Arab Countries’ in the text below … and see how you feel …

World Bank (IBRD) Report 73482 – 1 December 2012

World Bank Report 73482 (2012): 'Adaptation to a Changing Climate in Arab Countries - A Case for Adaptation Governance & Leadership in Building Climate Resilience'.

Adaptation to a Changing Climate in Arab Countries – A Case for Adaptation Governance & Leadership in Building Climate Resilience

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Selected Extracts from World Bank MENA Report’s OVERVIEW:

Climate change is happening now in the Arab Countries.  The year 2010 was the warmest since the late 1800’s, when this data began to be collected, with 19 countries setting new national temperature highs.  Five of these were Arab Countries, including Kuwait, which set a record high of 52.6 °C in 2010, only to be followed by 53.5 °C in 2011.  Extreme climate events are widely reported in local media, and a 2009 Arab Region Survey showed that over 90% of the people sampled agree that climate change is occurring and is largely due to human activities; 84% believe it is a serious challenge for their countries; and respondents were evenly split on whether their governments were acting appropriately to address climate change issues.  The sample came mostly from the better-educated population, but it shows that there is a firm base and desire for action regarding climate change across the Arab Region.

Colour image showing a Map of the Middle East & North Africa (MENA) / Arab Region. Click to enlarge.

Colour image showing a Map of the Middle East & North Africa (MENA) / Arab Region. Click to enlarge.

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Arab Countries can take action to reduce their vulnerability to climate change.  For example, this report proposes an Adaptation Pyramid Framework that assists stakeholders in Arab Countries in integrating climate risks and opportunities into development activities.  It is based on an adaptive management approach, but it also highlights the importance of leadership, without which adaptation efforts are unlikely to achieve the necessary commitment to be successful.  The Framework begins by assessing climate risks and opportunities and identifying options within the context of other development planning.  The next step is to identify and prioritize adaptation options within the context of national, regional, and local priorities.  Finally, adaptation responses will be implemented and outcomes monitored over time.  It is important to take into account the long-term consequences of these decisions, because short-term responses may not be efficient or could lead to maladaptive outcomes.  Other important measures for Arab Region policy makers to implement are discussed below …

Colour image showing the World Bank's Climate Change Adaptation Pyramid - a Framework for Action on Adaptation - which assists stakeholders in integrating climate risks and opportunities into development activities. Click to enlarge.

Colour image showing the World Bank’s Climate Change Adaptation Pyramid – a Framework for Action on Adaptation – which assists stakeholders in integrating climate risks and opportunities into development activities. Click to enlarge.

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  1. Facilitate the development of publicly accessible and reliable information related to climate change.  Access to quality weather and climate data is essential for policy-making.  Without reliable data on temperature and precipitation levels, it is difficult to assess the current climate and make reliable weather forecasts and climate predictions.  For example, information on river flows, groundwater levels, and water quality and salinity is critical for assessing current and future water availability.  However, climate stations across most of the Arab Region are very limited compared to most other parts of the world and what data exists is often not digitized or publicly available.  Conflict in parts of the region disrupts both the collection and sharing of data.  Information on food production and the main food supply chains (such as changes in agricultural yields and production for important crops, forage, and livestock) needs to be linked with weather and water data to better monitor and understand the effects of a changing climate.  In addition, socio-economic data (including household and census data) and other economic data related to the labour market and production should be collected and made available. 
  2. Build climate resilience through social protection and other measures.  Resilience is determined by factors such as an individual’s age, gender, and health status, or a household’s asset base and degree of integration with the market economy.  Underinvestment in social safety nets – public services such as water supply and wastewater treatment, and housing and infrastructure – make people more vulnerable to a changing climate.  Further, there should be measures in place to ensure equitable access to health care and a quality education.  Such social protection measures include insurance schemes, pensions, access to credit, cash transfer programs, relocation programs, and other forms of social assistance.  These investments and instruments facilitate economic and social inclusion, which creates co-benefits between adaptation and development goals. 
  3. Develop a supportive policy and institutional framework for adaptation.  Basic conditions for effective development, such as the rule of law, transparency and accountability, participatory decision-making structures, and reliable public service delivery that meets international quality standards are conducive to effective development and adaptation action.  In addition, climate change adaptation requires new or revised climate-smart policies and structures at all levels.

Sound adaptation planning, strong governmental/non-governmental co-operation, and plentiful financial resources are all important for building resilience to climate change.  Developing national adaptation strategies are important for prioritizing adaptation activities that respond to urgent and immediate needs, and for setting forth guiding principals in the effort to cope with climate change.  National governments have a key role in developing these strategies and as a result play an important role in promoting collaboration and co-operation.  This co-operation should include the government, civil society, the private sector, and international institutions.  Within governments, inter-ministerial co-ordination is especially critical, because adaptation responses often require activities involving multiple ministries and sectors.  Finally, to do any of the activities above it is important to secure the necessary financial resources.  There are many sources for adaptation funding, but first the Arab Countries will need to build their capacity to analyze their financial needs and generate and manage these resources.

By nature, adaptation to climate change is a dynamic process, and so is the governance of adaptation.  Political change, including those changes originating from the Arab Spring, can provide an opportunity to increase civil society participation in adaptation governance and a move toward a more inclusive approach to addressing climate change issues and building climate resilience.

This report is about climate change, its impacts on people, the systems upon which we depend, and how we might adapt to climate change.  It highlights a number of issues and areas that are being affected by climate change.  One important message of this report is that climate change should be taken into account in all activities – however, this report cannot provide solutions or options for all issues.  For example, the transboundary water issues are already being addressed by international task forces; this report can deal only with how climate change might affect their decisions.  Anticipation of climate change can be the stimulus for improving interventions and accelerating action, which has been seen in countries such as Australia, where water laws and management were extensively changed in response to a prolonged drought and the anticipation of further climate change issues.

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Building Related Ill-Health & Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals

2012-06-05:  Continuing on from the last post … the European Environment Agency (EEA), in Copenhagen, recently published EEA Technical Report 2/2012: ‘The Impacts of Endocrine Disrupters on Wildlife, People and Their Environments – The Weybridge+15 (1996–2011) Report’.  In this case, hitting the internet search engines might be time very well spent …

What are we doing to ourselves in the Built Environment ?   And … do we know how badly we are contaminating the Natural Environment ??

Building Related Ill-Health:  Any adverse impact on the health of building users – while living, working, generally occupying or visiting a specific building – caused by the planning, design, construction, management, operation or maintenance of that building.

Endocrine Gland (human):  A gland which secretes a substance (a hormone) directly into the bloodstream.  The endocrine glands are ‘glands of internal secretion’.  They include the hypothalamus, pituitary gland, pineal gland, thyroid, parathyroid glands, heart (which makes atrial-natriuretic peptide), the stomach and intestines, islets of Langerhans in the pancreas, the adrenal glands, the kidney (which makes renin, erythropoietin, and calcitriol), fat cells (which make leptin), the testes, the ovarian follicle (estrogens) and the corpus luteum in the ovary.

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EEA Technical Report 2/2012 – General Introduction …

1.1  Endocrine Disruption and the European Union (EU)

Genital malformations in baby boys have been increasing in many European countries, and the number of people diagnosed with breast, testis and prostate cancers continues to rise.  Recent data indicate that in parts of Europe, sperm quality is approaching crisis levels that may impair fertility.  At the same time, there is a secular trend towards earlier onset of puberty in young girls, and a steep increase in the paediatric rates of endocrine nutritional and metabolic disorders such as type II diabetes and obesity.  Thyroid cancer rates have increased by between 5.3% (Switzerland) and 155.6% (France), particularly in females, children and young adults.  Similarly, congenital hypothyroidism and neurodevelopmental disorders such as autism and attention deficit disorder are much more prevalent than they were 20 years ago.

The trends in the incidences of these endocrine diseases have changed in a manner concomitant with the rapid expansion in growth of the chemical industry, leading to growing speculation that these factors may be linked.  There is also compelling evidence of compromised development, growth and reproduction in a number of wildlife species, with reports of alterations and abnormalities in sexual development, impaired thyroid function, and thyroid abnormalities, particularly in environments contaminated by cocktails of chemicals in everyday use.

The concern is that chemicals able to interfere with the normal functioning of hormones, i.e. EDC’s, may play a role in these conditions.  Such chemicals can be found in food, household products and cosmetics.  The apparent parallels between effects reported in humans and wildlife populations are not surprising, given the overlap between their environments and their food chains.

To investigate the potential harmful effects of EDC’s, the EU has embarked on extensive research efforts and to date has launched scientific projects worth more than €150 million.  The intention has been to provide the EU with the information it needs to ensure the safety of chemicals in use and to be used in the future.  A lot of this research has now been completed and new findings concerning the effects of chemicals, especially when present as cocktails, have emerged.  Progress has also been made in pinpointing human life stages particularly vulnerable to ED, and new data about endocrine health in both humans and wildlife have come to light.

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‘Priory Hall’, Fire Engineering & Protecting Society’s Interests ??

2011-10-23:  Further to my post, dated 18 October 2011 …

Has anybody’s interests been protected by what has happened at the ‘Priory Hall’ Apartment Development, in Donaghmede, Dublin 13 ?   NO.

Now that the buildings there have been completed … will it be possible to effectively repair the most serious fire protection, sound transmission and energy conservation problems with the buildings ??   NO.

At the heart of these problems lie Fundamental Design and Construction Flaws … because, back in the 1990’s and early 2000’s, indigenous builders of simple two storey semi-detached houses suddenly became ‘developers’ of apartment complexes … and these were very different building animals altogether, requiring a degree of technical competence well beyond their reach.  And, of course, during the actual construction process everything had to be finished ‘yesterday’, and as cheaply as possible (a policy of cheap product substitution was the un-stated national norm !).  In fact, so many corners were cut on Irish Building Sites, at the time, that we should refer to almost the entire construction output from this era as: The Celtic Tiger Round Towers !

And guess who is going to carry out the Corrective/Repair/Refurbishment Works at ‘Priory Hall’ ?   The very same Construction Organization which created the mess in the first place !!   Can you believe it ??

Furthermore … once these Corrective/Repair/Refurbishment Works are eventually finished … the performance of the Fire Protection Measures in ‘Priory Hall’ will still be compromised, because you can only do so much, physically, when a building is completed.  BUT … it would be possible to achieve a Proper Level of Fire Safety in ‘Priory Hall’ … by installing a Fire Suppression System (sprinklers or mist) throughout the development.  That’s what it will take !!

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Tremendous fire damage was caused to the local environment in Buncefield ... but SOCIETY can no longer suffer this scale of damage ... and these Criminal Human Acts! Click to enlarge.

Tremendous fire damage was caused to the local environment in Buncefield ... but SOCIETY can no longer suffer this scale of damage ... and these Criminal Human Acts! Click to enlarge.

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WHO IS PROTECTING SOCIETY ?

So extensive is the damage caused by fire … throughout Europe … that not all of the Direct and Indirect Fire Losses have yet been identified.

Pause, to consider this definition …

Environmental Impact:  Any effect caused by a given activity on the environment, including human health, safety and welfare, flora, fauna, soil, air, water, and especially representative samples of natural ecosystems, climate, landscape and historical monuments or other physical structures, or the interactions among these factors; it also includes effects on accessibility, cultural heritage or socio-economic conditions resulting from alterations to those factors.

And this means, of course, that our current Fire Loss Data and Statistics are unreliable.

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It is not well known, or widely publicised, that the Fire Safety Objectives of Building Regulations are limited to protecting building occupants.  The Objectives are only concerned with protecting property, insofar as it is relevant to the protection of those building occupants.

Can you image the look of astonishment on the face of a Managing Director, after his/her factory has been entirely destroyed by a fire, when told by a fire consultant …

” We complied with Part B of the Building Regulations, and here is your Fire Safety Certificate to prove it”  ??

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What should be happening instead ?

     1.  Fire Engineering Design & Practice cannot … and must not … be concerned merely with the ‘cost-effective’ compliance with minimal (which they most certainly are !) Fire Safety Objectives mandated by Building Legislation.

     2.  To properly protect the interests of Society and Clients/Client OrganizationsFire Engineering Design & Practice must also take into account: Safety at Work Legislation; Rights, Equality & Anti-Discrimination Legislation; Environmental Impact Legislation; Public Procurement Legislation; Product Liability Legislation; etc., etc.

     3.  There is an evolving realization in Ethical Fire Engineering Design & Practice, however, that there is still a significant gap to be bridged.  There is no legislation (effective, or otherwise) yet in place, anywhere, which deals with such issues as …

  • Resistance to Fire-Induced Progressive Collapse – as very strongly recommended in the 2005 & 2008 U.S. NIST Final Reports on the 9-11 World Trade Center Building 1, 2 & 7 Collapses ;
  • Protection of Vulnerable Building Users in ‘Situations of Risk’ – as required, for example, by Article 11 of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) ;
  • Safety of Firefighters/Rescue Teams – as specified in Basic Requirement for Construction Works No.2, in Annex I of European Union Construction Product Regulation 305/2011 ;
  • Adaptation to Climate Change and Severe Weather Events – the Developed World Economies appear to have no interest, whatsoever, in these issues ;
  • Sustainable Human & Social Development !

     4.  We must clearly distinguish, therefore, between the Fire Safety Objectives of Building Regulations/Codes … and Project-Specific Fire Engineering Design Objectives.  This difference must be fully understood by the Fire Engineer himself/herself … and then, in all circumstances, properly explained to the Client/Client Organization.

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In designing a Building for conditions of fire, and its aftermath … which may take place at any time during the Life Cycle of that Building … Project-Specific Fire Engineering Design Objectives should cover the following spectrum of concerns … in order to properly protect the interests of Society and our Clients/Client Organizations

  –   Protection of the Health & Safety of All Building Users … including People with Activity Limitations (2001 WHO ICF), visitors to the building who may be unfamiliar with its layout, and contractors or product/service suppliers temporarily engaged in work or business transactions on the premises ;

  –   Protection of Property … including the building, its contents, and adjoining or adjacent properties … from loss or damage ;

  –   Protection of the Health & Safety of Firefighters, Rescue Teams & Other Emergency First Response Personnel ;

  –   Facility, Ease & Efficient Cost of Carrying Out Effective Reconstruction, Refurbishment or Repair Works after a Fire ;

  –   Sustainability of the Human Environment (social, built, virtual, economic, …) – including Fitness for Intended Use and Life Cycle Costing of fire engineering related products, components, systems, etc., fixed, installed or incorporated in the building ;

  –   Protection of the Natural Environment from Harm, i.e. Adverse Impacts.

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CRIMINAL RESPONSE TO 1981 DUBLIN STARDUST TRAGEDY !

As I write … a stampede has just commenced by the various Construction-Related Professional Institutes and Organizations … to demand closer independent monitoring of what is happening on Irish Building Sites.  Far too little … and definitely, far too late !   Back in the early 1990’s, everybody stood by … and co-operated with the installation of an entirely ineffective and dysfunctional system of National Building Control in Ireland … which, let us not forget, survives intact to this day … while, at the same time, the strong long-established and well-resourced Building Control Sections in Dublin and Cork were being quietly dismantled.

The Minister for the Environment, Community & Local Government, Mr. Phil Hogan T.D. … is also chirping in from his ivory tower !

Crocodile Tears !!

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Take a Fire Safety Certificate for a Building, for example …

With or Without Conditions … this document confirms that the Local Building Control/Fire Authority is satisfied that the Design Documentation for that building shows proper compliance with the Legal Requirements of Part B of the Irish Building Regulations.

Focus in on the relevant wording of a Fire Safety Certificate, which is as follows …

‘ … hereby certify that the works or building to which the application relates, will, if constructed in accordance with the plans, calculations, specifications and particulars submitted, comply with the requirements of Part B of the Second Schedule to the Building Regulations 1997 to 2008.’

Fire Safety Related Inspections of Construction Projects are not carried out by Competent Local Authority Personnel, or by Competent Independent Technical Controllers.  Therefore … a Fire Safety Certificate cannot give, and is not intended to give, any indication with regard to Fire Safety in the Completed Building.  The ‘Fire’ Establishment in Ireland knows full well that this is the situation !

Is this any sort of a reasonable, caring or competent response to the 1981 Stardust Discotheque Fire Tragedy in Dublin ??

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Personal Ethics – The Heart of Sustainability Implementation !

2011-02-15 …

Regular visitors, here, will have very little doubt about my understanding of Sustainable Human & Social Development … which is an intricate, open, dynamic and continuously evolving concept.  And about my firm conviction that Sustainable Design involves far more than merely substituting the word ‘sustainable’ … for ‘green’, ‘ecological’ or ‘environment-friendly’ … or any number of insipid alternatives which still regularly appear in the popular and/or academic media !   Who, in their right minds, wouldn’t be confused ?!?

‘Sustainability’ is Not … and Cannot … be just another graft onto Conventional Design Practice … whether that be Spatial Planning, Architectural / Engineering / Industrial Design or e-Design !

Sustainable Design & Construction … is the creative and ethical response, in resilient built or wrought (worked) form, to the concept of ‘Sustainable Human & Social Development’.

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SUSTAINABILITY IMPLEMENTATION

Opinion:  At the Heart of Implementation which is Authentically ‘Sustainable’ … (a colleague of mine is very fond of using that word ‘authentic’) … must lie a Personal Code of Ethics.  By that, I do Not mean … and I am Not referring to … a Professional Code of Conduct … which is mainly about the self-protection and self-preservation of a professional class !

Everyday Reality:  If we examine, for a moment, two interesting examples … Climate Change Mitigation & Adaptation or the 9-11(2001) Collapses of World Trade Center Buildings 1, 2 & 7 in New York … such is the great time-lag between general societal recognition of a critical design challenge … and then, the passing of relevant national legislation which can really only demarcate a minimal threshold of performance … and next, the associated production of standardized design guidelines … and finally, the imposition of effective monitoring and verification procedures … that the only practical approach is to base Sustainability Implementation on a robust Personal Code of Ethics … with an overt emphasis on Continuing Professional Development (CPD).

I hasten to add that this is not how we (society) are currently educating the design disciplines … and this is not how the professional institutes are operating.

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PERSONAL CODE OF ETHICS

For many years, in my presentations around Europe, the Arab Gulf Region, India and South America … I have been actively promoting the WFEO/FMOI (UNESCO) Model Code of Ethics as a suitable template for use by all of the design-related disciplines.  Recently, however, our Organization … Sustainable Design International … has undertaken a major review of this 2001 Code, and produced a 2011 Update which tackles the following matters of major concern in our world of shameful waste and social inequality:

  • Sustainable Human & Social Development ;
  • Climate Change Mitigation & Adaptation ;
  • Strengthening the Voice of Vulnerable Social Groups, particularly People with Activity Limitations.

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WFEO/FMOI (UNESCO)

World Federation of Engineering Organizations – Fédération Mondiale des Organisations d’Ingénieurs

MODEL CODE OF ETHICS

Since 1990, WFEO/FMOI has worked to prepare a Code of Ethics under the supervision of Donald Laplante (Canada), David Thom (New Zealand), Bud Carroll (USA), and others.  It is expected that the Model Code, adopted in 2001, will be used to define and support the creation of codes in member and related professional institutions.  This version of the Model Code was updated by C.J. Walsh (Ireland) in 2011.

CONTENTS

                   I.            BROAD PRINCIPLES

II.            PRACTICE PROVISION ETHICS

III.            ETHICS OF SUSTAINABLE ENGINEERING

IV.           CONCLUSION

INTERPRETATION OF THE CODE

  • Sustainable Development & Climate Change
  • Protection of the Public, and the Natural Environment
  • Faithful Agent of Clients and Employers
  • Competence & Knowledge
  • Fairness and Integrity in the Workplace
  • Professional Accountability & Leadership

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WFEO/FMOI MODEL CODE OF ETHICS

I.  BROAD PRINCIPLES

Ethics is generally understood as the discipline or field of study dealing with moral duty or obligation.  This typically gives rise to a set of governing principles or values, which in turn are used to judge the appropriateness of a particular conduct or behaviour.  These principles are usually presented either as broad guiding principles of an idealistic or inspirational nature or, alternatively, as a detailed and specific set of rules couched in legalistic or imperative terms to make them more enforceable.  Professions which have been given the privilege and responsibility of self regulation, including the engineering professions, have tended to opt for the first alternative, espousing sets of underlying principles as codes of professional ethics which form the basis and framework for responsible professional practice.  Arising from this context, professional codes of ethics have sometimes been incorrectly interpreted as a set of ‘rules’ of conduct intended for passive observance.  A more appropriate use by practicing professionals is to interpret the essence of the underlying principles within their daily decision-making situations in a dynamic manner, responsive to the needs of the situation.  As a consequence, a code of professional ethics is more than a minimum standard of conduct ;  rather, it is a set of principles which should guide professionals in their daily work.

In summary, the Model Code presented herein elaborates the expectations of engineers and society in discriminating engineers’ professional responsibilities.  The Code is based on broad principles of truth, honesty and trustworthiness, respect for human life and social wellbeing, fairness, openness, competence and accountability.  Some of these broader ethical principles or issues deemed more universally applicable are not specifically defined in the Code, although they are understood to be applicable as well.  Only those tenets deemed to be particularly applicable to the practice of professional engineering are specified.  Nevertheless, certain ethical principles or issues not commonly considered to be part of professional ethics should be implicitly accepted to judge the engineer’s professional performance.

Issues regarding protection of the natural environment, climate change mitigation and adaptation, and sustainable development know no geographical boundaries.  The engineers and citizens of all nations should know and respect the ethics of sustainability.  It is desirable, therefore, that engineers in each nation continue to observe the philosophy of the Principles of Sustainable Ethics, as delineated in Section III of this code.

II.  PRACTICE PROVISION ETHICS

Professional engineers shall:

  • hold paramount the safety, health and wellbeing of the public, particularly people with activity limitations, indigenous peoples and other vulnerable groups in society … and the protection of both the natural and the built environments in accordance with the Principles of Sustainable Human & Social Development ;
  • promote health and safety within the workplace ;
  • offer services, advise on or undertake engineering assignments only in areas of their competence, and practice in a careful and diligent manner ;
  • act as faithful agents of their clients or employers, maintain confidentially and disclose conflicts of interest ;
  • keep themselves informed in order to maintain their competence, strive to advance the body of knowledge within which they practice and provide opportunities for the professional development of their subordinates and fellow practitioners ;
  • conduct themselves with fairness, and good faith towards clients, colleagues and others, give credit where it is due and accept, as well as give, honest and fair professional criticism ;
  • be aware of and ensure that clients and employers are made aware of the environmental and socio-economic consequences of actions or projects, and endeavour to interpret engineering issues to the public in an objective and truthful manner ;
  • present clearly to employers and clients the possible consequences of overruling or disregarding engineering decisions or judgment ;
  • report to their association and/or appropriate agencies any illegal or unethical engineering decisions or practices of engineers or others.

III.  ETHICS OF SUSTAINABLE ENGINEERING

Engineers, as they develop any professional activity, shall:

  • try with the best of their ability, courage, enthusiasm and dedication, to obtain a superior technical achievement, which will contribute to and promote a healthy and agreeable surrounding for all people, including indigenous peoples and other vulnerable social groups, in open spaces as well as indoors ;
  • strive to accomplish the beneficial objectives of their work with the lowest possible consumption of raw materials and energy and the lowest production of wastes and any kind of pollution ;
  • discuss in particular the consequences of their proposals and actions, direct or indirect, immediate or long term, upon human health, social equity and the local culture and system of values ;
  • study thoroughly the environment that will be affected, assess all the impacts that might arise in the structure, dynamics and aesthetics of the eco-systems involved, urbanized or natural, as well as in the pertinent socio-economic systems … and select the best alternative for development which is environmentally sound, resilient to climate change and sustainable ;
  • promote a clear understanding of the actions required to restore and, if possible, to improve the environment that may be disturbed, and include them in their proposals ;
  • reject any kind of commitment that involves unfair damages for human surroundings and nature, and aim for the best possible technical, socio-economic, and political solution ;
  • be aware that the principles of eco-system interdependence, biodiversity maintenance, resource recovery and inter-relational harmony form the basis of humankind’s continued existence and that each of these bases poses a threshold of sustainability that should not be exceeded.

IV. CONCLUSION

Always remember that war, greed, misery and ignorance, plus natural disasters and human-induced pollution, climate change and destruction of resources, are the main causes for the progressive impairment of the environment and that engineers, as active members of society, deeply involved in the promotion of development, must use our talent, knowledge and imagination to assist society in removing those evils and improving the quality of life for all people, including indigenous peoples and other vulnerable groups.


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INTERPRETATION OF THE WFEO/FMOI MODEL CODE

The interpretive articles which follow expand on and discuss some of the more difficult and inter-related components of the Code, especially with regard to the Practice Provisions.  No attempt is made to expand on all clauses of the Code, nor is the elaboration presented on a clause-by-clause basis.  The objective of this approach is to broaden the interpretation, rather than narrow its focus.  The ethics of professional engineering is an integrated whole and cannot be reduced to fixed ‘rules’.  Therefore, the issues and questions arising from the Code are discussed in a general framework, drawing on any and all portions of the Code to demonstrate their inter-relationship and to expand on the basic intent of the Code.

Sustainable Development & Climate Change

Engineers shall strive to enhance the quality, durability and climate change resilience of the Human Environment (including the built, social, economic and virtual environments), and to promote the Principles of Sustainable Human & Social Development.

Engineers shall seek opportunities to work for the enhancement of safety, health, and the social wellbeing of both their local community and the global community through the practice of sustainable development.

Engineers whose recommendations are overruled or ignored on issues of safety, health, social wellbeing, or sustainable development, shall inform their contractor or employer of the possible consequences.

Protection of the Public, and the Natural Environment

Professional Engineers shall hold paramount the safety, health and wellbeing of the public, including people with activity limitations, indigenous peoples and other vulnerable groups in society … and protection of the natural environment.  This obligation to the safety, health and wellbeing of the general public, which includes his/her own work environment, is often dependent upon engineering judgments, risk assessments, decisions and practices incorporated into structures, machines, products, processes and devices.  Therefore, engineers must control and ensure that what they are involved with is in conformity with accepted engineering practices, standards and applicable codes, and would be considered safe based on peer adjudication.  This responsibility extends to include all and any situations which an engineer encounters, and includes an obligation to advise the appropriate authority if there is reason to believe that any engineering activity, or its products, processes, etc., do not conform with the above stated conditions.

The meaning of paramount in this basic tenet is that all other requirements of the Code are subordinate, if protection of public safety, the natural environment or other substantive public interests are involved.

Faithful Agent of Clients and Employers

Engineers shall act as faithful agents or trustees of their clients and employers with objectivity, fairness and justice to all parties.  With respect to the handling of confidential or proprietary information, the concept of ownership of the information and protecting that party’s rights is appropriate.  Engineers shall not reveal facts, data or information obtained in a professional capacity without the prior consent of its owner.  The only exception to respecting confidentially and maintaining a trustee’s position is in instances where the public interest or the natural environment is at risk, as discussed in the preceding section ;  but even in these circumstances, the engineer should endeavour to have the client and/or employer appropriately redress the situation, or at least, in the absence of a compelling reason to the contrary, should make every reasonable effort to contact them and explain clearly the potential risks, prior to informing the appropriate authority.

Professional Engineers shall avoid conflict of interest situations with employers and clients but, should such conflict arise, it is the engineer’s responsibility to fully disclose, without delay, the nature of the conflict to the party/parties with whom the conflict exists.  In those circumstances where full disclosure is insufficient, or seen to be insufficient, to protect all parties’ interests, as well as the public, the engineer shall withdraw totally from the issue or use extraordinary means, involving independent parties if possible, to monitor the situation.  For example, it is inappropriate to act simultaneously as agent for both the provider and the recipient of professional services.  If a client’s and an employer’s interests are at odds, the engineer shall attempt to deal fairly with both.  If the conflict of interest is between the intent of a corporate employer and a regulatory standard, the engineer must attempt to reconcile the difference, and if that is unsuccessful, it may become necessary to inform his/her association and the appropriate regulatory agency.

Being a faithful agent or trustee includes the obligation of engaging, or advising to engage, experts or specialists when such services are deemed to be in the client’s or employer’s best interests.  It also means being accurate, objective and truthful in making public statements on behalf of the client or employer when required to do so, while respecting the client’s and employer’s rights of confidentiality and proprietary information.

Being a faithful agent includes not using a previous employer’s or client’s specific privileged or proprietary information and trade practices or process information, without the owner’s knowledge and consent.  However, general technical knowledge, experience and expertise gained by the engineer through involvement with the previous work may be freely used without consent or subsequent undertakings.

Competence & Knowledge

Professional Engineers shall offer services, advise on or undertake engineering assignments only in areas of their competence by virtue of their training and experience.  This includes exercising care and communicating clearly in accepting or interpreting assignments, and in setting expected outcomes.  It also includes the responsibility to obtain the services of an expert if required or, if the knowledge is unknown, to proceed only with full disclosure of the circumstances and, if necessary, of the experimental nature of the activity to all parties involved.  Hence, this requirement is more than simply duty to a standard of care, it also involves acting with honesty and integrity with one’s client or employer, and one’s self.  Professional Engineers have the responsibility to remain abreast of developments and knowledge in their area of expertise, that is, to maintain their own competence.  Should there be a technologically driven or individually motivated shift in the area of technical activity, it is the engineer’s duty to attain and maintain competence in all areas of involvement including being knowledgeable with the technical and legal framework and regulations governing their work.  In effect, it requires a personal commitment to ongoing professional development, continuing education and self-testing.

In addition to maintaining their own competence, Professional Engineers have an obligation to strive to contribute to the advancement of the body of knowledge within which they practice, and to the profession in general.  Moreover, within the framework of the practice of their profession, they are expected to participate in providing opportunities to further the professional development of their colleagues.

This competence requirement of the Code extends to include an obligation to the public, the profession and one’s peers, that opinions on engineering issues are expressed honestly and only in areas of one’s competence.  It applies equally to reporting or advising on professional matters and to issuing public statements.  This requires honesty with one’s self to present issues fairly, accurately and with appropriate qualifiers and disclaimers, and to avoid personal, political and other non-technical biases.  The latter is particularly important for public statements or when involved in a technical forum.

Fairness and Integrity in the Workplace

Honesty, integrity, continuously updated competence, devotion to service and dedication to enhancing the life quality of society are cornerstones of professional responsibility.  Within this framework, engineers shall be objective and truthful and include all known and pertinent information in professional reports, statements and testimony.  They shall accurately and objectively represent their clients, employers, associates and themselves, consistent with their academic experience and professional qualifications.  This tenet is more than ‘not misrepresenting’ ;  it also implies disclosure of all relevant information and issues, especially when serving in an advisory capacity or as an expert witness.  Similarly, fairness, honesty and accuracy in advertising are expected.

If called upon to verify another engineer’s work, there is an obligation to inform (or make every effort to inform) the other engineer, whether the other engineer is still actively involved or not.  In this situation, and in any circumstance, engineers shall give proper recognition and credit where credit is due and accept, as well as give, honest and fair criticism on professional matters, all the while maintaining dignity and respect for everyone involved.

Engineers shall not accept, nor offer covert payment or other considerations for the purpose of securing, or as remuneration for, engineering assignments.  Engineers should prevent their personal or political involvement from influencing or compromising their professional role or responsibility.

Consistent with the Code, and having attempted to remedy any situation within their organization, engineers are obligated to report to their association or other appropriate agency any illegal or unethical engineering decisions by engineers or others.  Care must be taken not to enter into legal arrangements which compromise this obligation.

Professional Accountability & Leadership

Engineers have a duty to practice in a careful and diligent manner, and accept responsibility and be accountable for their actions.  This duty is not limited to design, or its supervision and management, but applies to all areas of practice.  For example, it includes construction supervision and management, preparation of drawings, engineering reports, feasibility studies, sustainability impact assessments, engineering developmental work, etc.

The signing and sealing of engineering documents indicates the taking of responsibility for the work.  This practice is required for all types of engineering endeavour, regardless of where or for whom the work is done, including but not limited to, privately and publicly owned firms, large corporations, and government agencies or departments.  There are no exceptions ;  signing and sealing documents is appropriate whenever engineering principles have been used and public wellbeing may be at risk.

Taking responsibility for engineering activity includes being accountable for one’s own work and, in the case of a senior engineer, accepting responsibility for the work of a team.  The latter implies responsible supervision where the engineer is actually in a position to review, modify and direct the entirety of the engineering work.  This concept requires setting reasonable limits on the extent of activities, and the number of engineers and others, whose work can be supervised by the responsible engineer.  The practice of a ‘symbolic’ responsibility or supervision is the situation where an engineer, say with the title of Chief Engineer, takes full responsibility for all engineering on behalf of a large corporation, utility or governmental agency, even though the engineer may not be aware of many of the engineering activities or decisions being made daily throughout the firm or agency.  The essence of this approach is that the firm is taking the responsibility by default, whether engineering supervision or direction is applied or not.

Engineers have a duty to advise their employer and, if necessary, their clients and even their professional association, in that order, in situations when the overturning of an engineering decision may result in breaching their duty to safeguard the public, including people with activity limitations, indigenous peoples and other vulnerable social groups.  The initial action is to discuss the problem with the supervisor/employer.  If the employer does not adequately respond to the engineer’s concern, then the client must be advised in the case of a consultancy situation, or the most senior officer should be informed in the case of a manufacturing process plant or government agency.  Failing this attempt to rectify the situation, the engineer must advise in confidence his/her professional association of his/her concerns.

In the same order as mentioned above, the engineer must report unethical engineering activity undertaken by other engineers, or by non-engineers.  This extends to include, for example, situations in which senior officials of a firm make ‘executive’ decisions which clearly and substantially alter the engineering aspects of the work, or protection of public wellbeing or the natural environment arising from that work.

Because of developments in technology and the increasing ability of engineering activities to impact on the environment, engineers have an obligation to be mindful of the effect that their decisions will have on the environment and the wellbeing of society, and to report any concerns of this nature in the same manner as previously mentioned.  Further to the above, with the rapid advancement of technology in today’s world and the possible social impacts on large populations of people, engineers must endeavour to foster the public’s understanding of technical issues and the role of Engineering more than ever before.

Sustainable development is the challenge of meeting current human needs for natural resources, industrial products, energy, food, transportation, shelter, and effective waste management while conserving and, if possible enhancing, the Earth’s environmental quality, natural resources, ethical, intellectual, working and affectionate capabilities of people and the socio-economic bases essential for the human needs of future generations.  The proper observance of these principles will considerably help to eradicate world poverty.

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WFEO/FMOI Model Code of Ethics, Adopted 2001.

This Version, Updated 2011 & Communicated to UNESCO.

[Footnote to the Code]

Sustainable Human & Social Development:  Development which meets the responsible needs, i.e. the Human & Social Rights*, of this generation – without stealing the life and living resources from future generations, especially our children, their children, and the next five generations of children.

*As defined in the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights

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