Celebrating World Engineering Day for Sustainable Development

UNESCO Jakarta, as the Regional Science Bureau for Asia and the Pacific, organized an online celebration of World Engineering Day in Asia and the Pacific, on 4 March 2021, in collaboration with AEESEAP (Association for Engineering Education in Southeast Asia and the Pacific) and the Institution of Engineers Indonesia (PII). The online event was the regional celebration of the World Engineering Day for Sustainable Development in Asia and the Pacific since its declaration in 2019. Eight international experts discussed and exchanged their perspectives on raising awareness and promoting the services of engineering to society. The event also provided an occasion and a platform to raise awareness of the engineering value chain, to increase the engineering sector’s visibility and regional collaborations for an accelerated transition to a knowledge-based society through the delivery of Agenda 2030 in the Asia Pacific region. More than 330 participants joined the online session via Zoom and UNESCO Jakarta Facebook live stream.

The Director of UNESCO Jakarta, Dr Shahbaz Khan, and the President of AEESEAP and PII, Dr Heru Dewanto, delivered their remarks to welcome the panellists and the participants. Dr Dewanto then presented the UNESCO-AEESEAP-PII Joint Publication “Enhancing Engineers Value Chain for Global Collaboration in achieving SDGs” and a proposal and invitation to develop a Global Digital Platform.

The eminent experts delivered their views and insights on the importance of engineering value chain, engineering education, open engineering and STEAM in delivering UN SDGs by 2030, moderated by Dr Ai Sugiura, Programme Specialist for Science and Capacity Building of UNESCO Jakarta. The panelists were:

  1. Dr Shahbaz Khan, Director of UNESCO Regional Science Bureau for Asia and the Pacific, revisited the UNESCO global and regional initiatives in promoting Engineering services to the society and stressed the importance to raise awareness on engineers and engineering we need for the SDGs (see UNESCO Engineering Report 2021).
  2. Dr Marlene Kanga, immediate past President of World Federation of Engineering Organizations, introduced the review of International Engineering Benchmarks for Graduate Attributes and Professional Competencies for Engineers, and highlighted incorporating SDGs, diversity and inclusion among six key areas for transforming engineering education and profession.
  3. Prof. Chuah Hean Teik, President of ASEAN Academy of Engineering and Technology (AAET), identified the main issues of international mobility of engineers, and suggested more financial support by international agencies, partnership with local engineers, and technology transfer in line with SDGs to achieve international collaborations and build trust between partners.
  4. Dr Liu Chang, Secretary General of International Knowledge Centre for Engineering Sciences and Technology (IKCEST) introduced their Open Engineering Platform and IKCEST solutions to SDGs. She emphasised on providing engineering solutions and decision-making references, promoting information exchange within the engineering community, and supporting the implementation of the UN SDGs.
  5. Dr Leni Sophia Heliani, Head of Internal Quality Assurance Section of Indonesian Accreditation Board for Engineering Education (IABEE-PII), stated the importance of outcome-based engineering accreditation in developing engineering accreditation system in Indonesia and the SDGs.
  6. Prof. Misri Gozan, Chair of Indonesian Accreditation Board for Engineering Education (IABEE PII) shared the engineering education data in AEESEAP member states, exposed the unequal distribution of engineers among the countries, and emphasised the need of detailed and periodic data collection, more program and mobility, as well as quality.
  7. Dr Adnan Anwar Malik from the UNESCO Chair on Environmental Management and Infrastructure Development Engineering presented international engineering education programmes and international collaboration projects initiated by the UNESCO chair to illustrate the role of engineering education in fostering sustainable development of infrastructure in developing countries.
  8. Prof. Manolo Mena, Director of National Graduate School of Engineering University of the Philippines, reviewed the exploratory work on the use of STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics) conducted by AEESEAP member institutions, and called for more integration rather than additional curriculum in STEAM approach.

In the round table discussion on regional strategies, Dr Marlene Kanga specified how the engineers working was transformed, therefore new benchmarks are needed in an inclusive manner, which is not only for women but for all through sound and inclusive communication strategy. Prof. Chuah reiterated the importance of respecting different cultures, building trust and confidence at the local level when there are exchanges and collaboration for the mobility of engineers. Dr Chang Liu stated that open engineering is a future trend in the region, and the challenges in developing the platform, such as unidentified user needs, unintegrated data standards, and establishing collaborative mechanisms. Prof. Misri Gozan emphasised engineering education being an important part of the Engineering Value Chain and reiterated it is not only the numbers of engineers but also the quality of engineers we need.

In the concluding remarks, Dr Heru Dewanto encouraged the contribution to the global and regional collaboration initiative, and emphasised the cooperation is needed more than competition in global challenges.

Dr Shahbaz Khan concluded the meeting with three main recommendations as to the way forward: raising awareness about Engineering, the transformation of the Engineering profession for SDGs, and “No one left behind” and Engineering equal opportunities for all.

The online event is contributing to the Sustainable Development Goals, especially on Goal 9 Building resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation (target 9.5, 9.b and 9.c), and Goal 17 Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development (target 17.6, 17.7, 17.8, 17.9, and 17.14).

For more information, please refer to the meeting materials and contact the Programme Specialist for Science Policy and Capacity Building, UNESCO Jakarta, Ms Ai Sugiura (a.sugiura@unesco.org(link sends e-mail)).