EA: The world is certainly a different place today, compared to 2019. How do you think society and the business environment has changed over that period?
FS: The contrast is so remarkable it is difficult to know where to start. As a country, we have seen major political changes. The political pendulum will oscillate over time, but it seems the center has shifted. Perhaps more significant but less obvious is the four-fold increase in direct investment in ESG stocks. Board rooms around the world are paying close attention to investor demands for change.
EA: Going back a little further.... how do you think approaches to, and perceptions of environmental protection and sustainable development have evolved in the (almost) three decades you have been at AECOM? What is different today?
FS: I have spent most of my career in Environmental Consulting and I’ve always felt that everything we do contributes to environmental protection, sustainability and social benefit. To me, remediation was recycling impaired land. Thirty years ago, climate change was a side conversation; today it is front and center.
EA: Do you think the events over the past 18 months have helped embed sustainable principles at the very core of your clients’ thinking?
FS: There is no doubt about it, even our most traditional clients see the direction the worlds societies, policy makers and investors are going.
EA: It was great to see the release of AECOM’s Sustainable Legacies initiative - from your perspective what will this mean for your staff and for the projects you support?
FS: Our staff have reacted positively to our public commitment to our broad Sustainable Legacies Initiative. It’s a big deal, not just our plan to achieve net zero, but our promise helps our clients get there too while ensuring every project we undertake provides environmental and social benefit.
EA: As our strapline for the summit – "From Crisis to Opportunity: The Decisive Decade" – suggests, we certainly believe the next nine years will be pivotal in transitioning to a more sustainable, inclusive and prosperous society. Where do you see the big opportunities for environmental and sustainability consultants to make a difference?
FS: This decade may just be the renaissance of Environmental Consulting. It’s clear that our clients need an enormous amount of help making the transition to renewable and low carbon energy and embedding sustainable and socially beneficial elements into everything they do.
EA: Equally, what challenges will this sector encounter in providing high-value environmental and sustainability advisory services to those clients and stakeholders in need of support?
FS: It seems equally clear that there is, and will be, a huge shortage of practitioners in this sector. We’ll discuss this and the simple math behind this conclusion during our summit.
Hear more from Frank at the Global Summit
Hear more from Frank Sweet at the Environment Analyst Global Summit 2021 - From Crisis to Opportunity: The Decisive Decade on 8 June, where Frank will be delivering the keynote presentation, outlining how the market has evolved in the past couple of years, and also exploring key issues such as effective resource management, the rise in environmental and social justice, and the increasing urgency to protect the environment.
View the event agenda and speaker details here.