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How the diversity in Asia-Pacific inspires new approaches to delivering excellence

Climate Change By Alex Saez, Partner – 27 June 2022

Lagoons and Reefs of New Caledonia

Aerial view of a land mass in the ocean

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Alex Saez, arms folded, outdoors in front of greenery

Alex Saez

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Asia-Pacific is the perfect example of the power of diversity. Often, when people talk about the region, the focus is on the major cities and developed economies. But we understand the region is both vast and poses unique and exciting opportunities for positive action.

Our region includes both technologically-advanced and dense island nations like Singapore and the relatively isolated and climate-exposed Pacific Islands such as the Solomons, Cook Islands, Vanuatu and New Caledonia.

We work within the rapidly advancing and interconnected South-East Asian nations, each with their own unique challenges around sustainable development and building resilience. Our region is also bracketed by the massive geographical expanses of China and Australia, where ancient cultures and the hyper-connected digital age both have their place.

The variations in level of development and community capacity and resilience create enormous opportunity for us to inspire our clients to extend their reach both geographically and in terms of value creation.

Where there is currently energy poverty – for example communities reliant on diesel generators or kerosene for light and cooking – infrastructure approaches like renewable energy microgrids can help communities skip past coal- or gas-fired centralised power.

In the locations most exposed to climate risk such as the low-lying parts of Bangladesh, Mekong River delta communities in Cambodia and Vietnam, the Islands of Micronesia, and the Polynesian and Melanesian nations, embedding resilience strategies in all planning and delivery of buildings and infrastructure means we can find new ways of thinking. This lies at the core of who we are as engineers – identifying needs and inventing the solutions that will serve people and the planet.

Encouraging our clients and collaborators to join us in this quest is how we create added layers of value that multiply returns beyond the purely financial.

The immediacy of the climate risk in APAC should be an impetus for us to always seek to go where we have not gone both commercially and in our thinking. The truism that there is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all solution is particularly true given the very specific individual conditions in terms of climate, community, and culture in each individual nation within APAC.

The HVAC solution that works well for a high-rise office in Hong Kong is unlikely to be suitable for the government office in a cold weather location like Hokkaido in Japan or a community health building in Malaysia. We know this not only on an intellectual level as engineers, but also from the lived experience within both our regional team and the larger, unified global team.

Having people from diverse backgrounds and experiences, is an invaluable strength from both the human resources perspective and for our business strategy and engineering design approach. In Singapore, for example, our team of 60 includes people from approximately 25 nationalities. Each person brings their first-hand knowledge of climate, culture, social trends and development needs to the collective, adding levels of insight that allow us to tailor engineering and sustainability strategy responses to the place and the people it will serve.

This insight is further supported by digital modelling capabilities that can investigate local conditions and how they will change in a climate-changed scenario on a granular, microclimate level. We can use this science-based crystal ball to test ideas - and embed design solutions within a multidisciplinary context that incorporates the wider infrastructure picture and the needs of stakeholders and essential ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) indicators. Every solution is bespoke.

For our clients and collaborators, this also means the path ahead is an adventure into new territory in engineering and construction for a net zero, climate-resilient, inclusive and interconnected future. This is why we think regionally as one interconnected and supportive community, deliver solutions locally that benefit the whole, and always leverage the benefit of diversity in every respect.

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