Cars and lorries on a Belfast motorway. Photo credit: Andrew Hazard Photography and Design.

+ The Ecological Sequestration Trust is developing integrated models to help put an end to investment in projects that don’t deliver resource efficiency and low-carbon outcomes.

During my time at Arup I've seen the profound outcomes that taking a joined-up approach to developing infrastructure can bring. By considering different infrastructures as a whole we can connect them up and deliver outcomes that help us move towards an ecological age. This shift would provide the resilience we need for our vital resources of energy, water and food. 

Sadly, this isn’t happening widely at the moment. Organisations like the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank and the European Investment Bank are not doing this. Instead, they’re investing in projects that aren’t delivering the resource efficiency and low-carbon outcomes that we want.  

An example of this inefficiency in the EU is the structural funds that supported economic growth in Greece, Spain, Ireland and Portugal. The funds were largely spent on carbon intensive infrastructure like roads and the carbon emissions in these countries rose very fast compared with the overall targets in place at the time. As a result ecological footprints also rose very fast and with resource scarcity (e.g. fossil fuels) growing, this now risks attendant higher inflation.

If we had the right model projects it would enable everyone to see what could be done better. So, having left Arup after seven years, the next thing I’m going to do is centred around a charity I’ve created called the Ecological Sequestration Trust. We're planning to create an agent-based integrated resource and economics model. That sounds complicated but it basically allows you to plan and work out the economic benefit of infrastructure investment and resource efficiency.  

We’re going to put that model into four demonstration regions – one in Europe, one in India, one in Africa and one in China. And we're going to help those regions show a very profound improvement in resource efficiency, lowering carbon emissions and improving quality of life. Then we'll connect those demonstrators to learning and research networks around the world so that everyone else can benefit — with the model becoming an open source model that every region in the world can use. 

To make this happen I have to ask foundations and philanthropists, plus some of the world’s biggest companies, to give us the funding we need. This approach isn’t possible in the private sector, but neither is it possible in the public sector. So we're going to step into the middle and help people to make that profound change. 

I’ve been with Arup for seven years and in that period I’ve had a wonderful time helping clients all over the world to move towards a low-carbon, resilient future. I’ve worked with some of the best people in the world and had the opportunity to work all over the world, so for me it’s been a wonderful learning curve.

Here's to the future, and to integrated resources.