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Sustainability Team

Sweco UK



At the heart of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were created by the United Nations in 2015 to provide common, achievable aspirations which act as a “blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all”.

In 2017, these Sustainable Development Goals were made more “actionable”, with specific targets set for each one in a UN Resolution adopted by the General Assembly. The resolution identifies more detailed targets for each goal – with a general ambition to achieve the desired outcomes by 2030. You can find out how Sweco can help measure UNSDG success here.

It has never been more important that we stand together for a joint climate effort. Sweco’s goal is to be climate neutral by 2040 globally (and to achieve net zero emissions by 2030 in the UK & Ireland) and to be at the forefront of all the markets in which we operate. That’s why, working closely with our clients as we strive to transform society together, we use our knowledge and skills to develop industries, construction, energy systems, infrastructure and many other parts of society in line with the 17 UNSDGs.

What are the 17 Sustainable Development Goals?

1. No Poverty

2. Zero Hunger

3. Good Health and Well-being

4. Quality Education

5. Gender Equality

6. Clean Water and Sanitation

7. Affordable and Clean Energy

8. Decent Work and Economic Growth

9. Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure

10. Reducing Inequality

11. Sustainable Cities and Communities

12. Responsible Consumption and Production

13. Climate Action

14. Life Below Water

15. Life On Land

16. Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions

17. Partnerships for the Goals

How Sweco unlocks the UNSDGs

About this goal

Eradicating poverty in all its forms remains one of the greatest challenges facing humanity. This involves targeting the most vulnerable, increasing basic resources and services, and supporting communities affected by conflict and climate-related disasters.*

Sweco’s contribution to the goal

Architects and engineers can design and construct affordable housing solutions that meet the needs of people living in poverty. Infrastructure projects including water and sanitation systems, roads, bridges, and telecommunication drive economic growth and alleviate poverty while enabling access to communication, education and health. Sweco’s experts provide disaster relief services to communities affected by natural disasters. They can help rebuild homes, infrastructure, and public spaces that have been damaged or destroyed.

See how Sweco helps to alleviate water shortage in Kenya

About this goal

There are 821 million people estimated to be chronically undernourished as of 2017, often as a direct consequence of environmental degradation, drought or biodiversity loss. The SDGs aim to end all forms of hunger and malnutrition by 2030, making sure all people–especially children–have sufficient and nutritious food all year.*

Sweco’s contribution to the goal

Agricultural, mechanical and chemical engineers can design and build sustainable food production systems including mechanisation for agriculture, greenhouses, hydroponics systems, and vertical farms that can produce food with limited space. Engineers can develop infrastructure for food distribution such as storage and transportation facilities. They can help promote sustainable agriculture practices that increase food production while reducing the environmental impact. They can design irrigation systems that conserve water, develop soil conservation strategies, and promote the use of renewable energy sources in agriculture.

This white paper from Urban Insight delves into resourceful communities where water, food and energy systems are optimised.

About this goal

The world is off-track to achieve the health-related SDGs. Progress has been uneven, both between and within countries. There’s a 31-year gap between the countries with the shortest and longest life expectancies. And while some countries have made impressive gains, national averages hide that many are being left behind.*

Sweco’s contribution to the goal

Engineering has been essential during the COVID-19 pandemic with advanced technologies deployed, for example, through advanced manufacturing processes, logistics and transportation systems. Architects and engineers can design and build healthcare facilities that are safe, accessible, and equipped with the latest technology. These facilities can support the delivery of quality healthcare services to people in need.

Sweco’s experts promote sustainable building practices that improve indoor air quality and reduce exposure to toxins. They can design buildings that incorporate natural ventilation, daylight, and reduce energy consumption.

Read more about Sweco’s assignment with the transformation of the Charité University Hospital in Berlin

About this goal

Achieving inclusive and quality education for all reaffirms the belief that education is one of the most powerful and proven vehicles for sustainable development. This goal ensures that all girls and boys complete free primary and secondary schooling by 2030. It also aims to provide equal access to affordable vocational training, to eliminate gender and wealth disparities, and achieve universal access to a quality higher education.*

Sweco’s contribution to the goal

Architects and engineers can design and build educational facilities that promote learning and provide a safe and healthy environment for students. They can design classrooms, libraries, laboratories, and other educational spaces that accommodate the needs of teachers and students.

Engineers also develop infrastructure for digital learning that supports remote and e-learning. In collaboration with schools and universities, Sweco’s experts support education and training programs that improve the quality of education. This includes teacher training programs, curriculum development, and programs that promote STEM education. They also help develop vocational training programs that prepare students for future employment opportunities.

Discover how Sweco designs healthy schools and playgrounds

About this goal

Although there are more women than ever in the labour market, there are still large inequalities in some regions, with women systematically denied the same work rights as men. Sexual violence and exploitation, the unequal division of unpaid care and domestic work, and discrimination in public office all remain huge barriers. Climate change and disasters continue to have a disproportionate effect on women and children, as do conflict and migration.*

Sweco’s contribution to the goal

Women and men must have equal conditions and opportunities to qualify and work as architects, engineers, technicians and specialists. Sweco has a target of having 40 per cent female employees group-wide by 2040. Architects and engineers can design and build infrastructure that is sensitive to the needs of women and girls. This includes public spaces that are safe and accessible, such as parks, streets, and transportation systems as well as infrastructure for women’s health that provides access to reproductive health services and reduces maternal mortality rates.

Architects and engineers can promote equal access to education by designing and building educational facilities that are accessible to girls and women. They can also promote gender-sensitive curriculum and teacher training that supports gender equality in education. Architects and engineers can support women in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) fields by providing mentorship, training, and professional development opportunities.

Read how inclusive landscape architecture can enhance equality.

About this goal

Safe and affordable drinking water for all by 2030 requires we invest in adequate infrastructure, provide sanitation facilities, and encourage hygiene. Protecting and restoring water-related ecosystems is essential.*

Sweco’s contribution to the goal

Civil and environmental engineers can design and build water treatment facilities that provide clean, safe drinking water to communities as well as wastewater treatment facilities that prevent contamination of water sources. Sweco’s experts can help develop infrastructure for water supply and distribution that ensures access to clean water. This includes designing and building water storage and distribution systems that reach all communities. Architects and engineers can promote sustainable water management practices that reduce water consumption and waste. They can design buildings that incorporate rainwater harvesting and greywater systems, and promote water-efficient landscaping practices. Architects and engineers can provide disaster relief services to communities affected by natural disasters that disrupt water and sanitation infrastructure. They can help rebuild water treatment facilities, improve sanitation infrastructure, and provide emergency water supply and treatment services.

Read the Sweco Urban Insight report on Healthy water cities – from sewer to health booster

About this goal

Investing in solar, wind and thermal power, improving energy productivity, and ensuring energy for all is vital if we are to achieve SDG 7 by 2030. Expanding infrastructure and upgrading technology to provide clean and more efficient energy in all countries will encourage growth and help the environment.*

Sweco’s contribution to the goal

Electrical, mechanical and environmental engineers help develop infrastructure for clean energy, such as solar and wind farms, hydroelectric power plants, geothermal energy or hydrogen production and distribution. They can also design and build energy storage systems that enable renewable energy sources to provide reliable and consistent power. Architects and engineers design and build energy-efficient buildings that reduce energy consumption and promote the use of renewable energy sources. They incorporate features such as solar panels and green roofs to generate clean energy and reduce reliance on fossil fuels.

Engineers promote sustainable transportation options, such as electric vehicles, public transportation, and biking. They design and build infrastructure for these transportation options, such as charging stations, bike lanes, and public transit systems.

Discover how Sweco can contribute to the renewable energy targets of REPowerEU

About this goal

The SDGs promote sustained economic growth, higher levels of productivity and technological innovation. Encouraging entrepreneurship and job creation are key to this, as are effective measures to eradicate forced labour, slavery and human trafficking. With these targets in mind, the goal is to achieve full and productive employment, and decent work, for all women and men by 2030.*

Sweco’s contribution to the goal

Architects and engineers design and build sustainable infrastructure that creates jobs and supports economic growth. Roads, railways, airports, telecommunications, and the supply of water and electricity are essential infrastructure underpinning all economies. This infrastructure is designed, developed and maintained by civil, mechanical, electrical and environmental engineers. Architects and engineers also support small businesses and entrepreneurs by providing design and construction services for their facilities. They can also provide mentorship and training to help these businesses grow and succeed.

Sweco’s experts promote green jobs by designing and building sustainable infrastructure and promoting renewable energy sources. They also support training programs and apprenticeships that prepare workers for green jobs. Architects and engineers can support affordable housing by designing and building housing that meets the needs of low-income communities. This can create economic opportunities for these communities by reducing housing costs and freeing up resources for other needs. Sweco also promotes social responsibility in the workplace by implementing fair labor practices and promoting workplace diversity and inclusion. What makes a neighbourhood resilient?

Read the interview with Jani Päivänen, expert in land use and sociocultural environment at Sweco in Finland

About this goal

Investment in infrastructure and innovation are crucial drivers of economic growth and development. With over half the world population now living in cities, mass transport and renewable energy are becoming ever more important, as are the growth of new industries and information and communication technologies.*

Sweco’s contribution to the goal

Architects and engineers design and build sustainable infrastructure that supports economic growth and promotes sustainable development. This includes transportation systems, energy infrastructure, and public or commercial buildings that stimulate economic activity. Architects and engineers can support innovation in construction materials and techniques that promote sustainability and efficiency. They can also support research and development of technologies that can improve sustainability performance and reduce environmental impact. Sweco’s experts help develop infrastructure for digital technology that supports innovation and promotes economic growth. They design and build internet connectivity, digital delivery systems, and online platforms that enable businesses to operate more efficiently and effectively.

Read more about Sweco’s contribution to new industrialisation with battery manufacturing projects

About this goal

Income inequality has increased in nearly everywhere in recent decades, but at different speeds. It’s lowest in Europe and highest in the Middle East. These widening disparities require sound policies to empower lower income earners, and promote economic inclusion of all regardless of sex, race or ethnicity.*

Sweco’s contribution to the goal

Architects and engineers design and construct affordable housing solutions that meet the needs of lower income earners. These solutions can help to reduce the housing cost burden and improve the economic status of lower income households. Architects and engineers can help develop infrastructure for basic services such as water and sanitation systems, clean energy, roads, and public transportation. This can improve the quality of life in lower income communities and reduce the inequality gap. Architects and engineers can advocate for social responsibility in the workplace by promoting fair labour practices, workplace diversity and inclusion, and ethical sourcing practices. They can also support policies and practices that promote work-life balance.

See how Sweco works with accessibility to promote social inclusion, participation and diversity

About this goal

More than half of us live in cities. By 2050, two-thirds of all humanity—6.5 billion people—will be urban. Sustainable development cannot be achieved without significantly transforming the way we build and manage our urban spaces. The rapid growth of cities—a result of rising populations and increasing migration—has led to a boom in mega-cities, especially in the developing world, and slums are becoming a more significant feature of urban life.*

Sweco’s contribution to the goal

Architects and engineers use digital tools such as BIM (Building Information Modelling) and digital twins to design and build sustainable buildings that use renewable energy sources, promote energy efficiency, and incorporate green spaces. This can improve the quality of life in cities and reduce the impact of buildings on the environment. They help develop infrastructure for public transportation such as buses, trains, and bike lanes. This can reduce traffic congestion, improve air quality, and promote sustainable transportation options in cities. Landscape architects promote green spaces such as parks, community gardens, and urban forests. Experts can also design and build infrastructure for active living such as bike paths, pedestrian walkways, and outdoor exercise equipment which improves the quality of life in cities and promotes healthy lifestyles.

Architects and engineers can help develop sustainable waste management systems such as recycling centres. This can reduce waste in cities and promote resource conservation. Architects and engineers can support disaster preparedness and resilience by designing and building infrastructure that can withstand natural disasters such as earthquakes, floods, and hot weather. They can also help develop emergency response plans and provide disaster relief services to communities affected by natural disasters.

Discover the UN17 Village – the first building in the world that through an innovative method addresses and incorporates the 17 UN Global Goals in one complete solution

About this goal

A large share of the world population is still consuming far too little to meet even their basic needs. Halving the per capita of global food waste at the retailer and consumer levels is also important for creating more efficient production and supply chains. This can help with food security, and shift us towards a more resource efficient economy.*

Sweco’s contribution to the goal

Architects, civil, mechanical, electrical and environmental engineers can promote sustainable material choices in their projects. They can use materials that are environmentally friendly, such as recycled and biodegradable materials, and promote sustainable material sourcing practices. Engineering innovations support resource management and responsible consumption through the circular economy where outputs and products can become inputs into other processes and products. Innovations to recycle or reuse waste materials, including plastics, are being developed by materials and chemical engineers. Architects and engineers can support education and awareness programs that promote responsible consumption and production. This includes promoting sustainable lifestyles, such as reducing energy consumption and waste, and educating communities on the benefits of sustainable design and construction practices.

Read the Sweco Urban Insight report on Circular construction – an opportunity we can’t waste

About this goal

There is no country that is not experiencing the drastic effects of climate change. Greenhouse gas emissions are more than 50 percent higher than in 1990. Global warming is causing long-lasting changes to our climate system, which threatens irreversible consequences if we do not act. It is still possible, with strong political will, increased investment, and using existing technology, to limit the increase in global mean temperature to two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, aiming at 1.5°C, but this requires urgent and ambitious collective action.*

Sweco’s contribution to the goal

Sweco, which is committed to actively supporting the transition to a low-carbon society, aims to achieve carbon neutrality in its own operations by 2040. While, as a consultancy, Sweco’s direct climate impact is relatively small, our target is to halve the company’s carbon emissions by 2030, as a way to achieve this goal. In client projects, Sweco enables solutions to reduce cities’ climate impact, adapt to climate change and mitigate the negative effects of increasingly extreme weather phenomena on people and the built environment.

Environmental engineers can help develop infrastructure for climate resiliency such as seawalls, stormwater management systems, and blue-green infrastructure. This can help protect communities from the impacts of climate change, such as flooding and sea-level rise. Sweco’s experts enable for increased resilience of energy systems through their expertise in renewable energy production, transmission and distribution grid expansion, efficient energy consumption, and technology development in areas including energy storage, hydrogen, and carbon capture and storage.

Find out how Sweco supports the city of Leuven to achieve climate neutrality targets

About this goal

The SDGs aim to sustainably manage and protect marine and coastal ecosystems from pollution, as well as address the impacts of ocean acidification. Enhancing conservation and the sustainable use of ocean-based resources through international law will also help mitigate some of the challenges facing our oceans.*

Sweco’s contribution to the goal

Engineers design and build sustainable marine infrastructure that supports the conservation of marine ecosystems. This includes designing and building ports, marinas, and seawalls that reduce the impact of human activities on marine habitats. Marine engineers are working with scientists and other engineering disciplines to address the degradation of fisheries, develop sustainable fishing practices or design and build aquaculture systems that promote sustainable seafood production.

Sweco’s experts develop renewable energy technologies that harness the power of the ocean and seas, such as wave energy converters, tidal energy turbines, and offshore wind turbines. These technologies can reduce reliance on fossil fuels and promote sustainable energy production. Engineers also develop technologies that aid in ocean conservation efforts, such as underwater sensors and autonomous underwater vehicles that can monitor and map marine ecosystems. They also develop technologies that remove marine debris and pollutants such as plastic waste from the oceans.

See how Sweco provides Anglian Water with the tools to visualise climate impact for water project

About this goal

Every year, 13 million hectares of forests are lost, while the persistent degradation of drylands has led to the desertification of 3.6 billion hectares, disproportionately affecting poor communities. Urgent action must be taken to reduce the loss of natural habitats and biodiversity which are part of our common heritage and support global food and water security, climate change mitigation and adaptation, and peace and security.*

Sweco’s contribution to the goal

Engineers design and build sustainable infrastructure that minimizes the impact on natural habitats and ecosystems. This includes designing and building transportation infrastructure that reduces fragmentation of habitats and promotes the use of renewable energy sources. Engineers can help restore degraded ecosystems by designing and implementing restoration projects. This includes reforestation, wetland restoration, and other projects that improve the health of ecosystems and promote biodiversity. Engineers develop sustainable agriculture practices that promote biodiversity and reduce the impact of agriculture on natural habitats. This includes designing and building irrigation systems that conserve water, promoting soil conservation practices, and reducing the use of pesticides and herbicides. Engineers can develop technologies that aid in biodiversity conservation efforts, such as remote sensing technology and geographic information systems (GIS) that can map and monitor habitats and ecosystems. They also develop technologies that remove invasive species and restore habitat connectivity.

Read Sweco’s Urban Insight report on Building in biodiversity for climate and for health

About this goal

The SDGs aim to significantly reduce all forms of violence, and work with governments and communities to end conflict and insecurity. Promoting the rule of law and human rights are key to this process, as is reducing the flow of illicit arms and strengthening the participation of developing countries in the institutions of global governance.*

Sweco’s contribution to the goal

Architects and engineers can design and build safe and secure infrastructure that promotes public safety and reduces the risk of crime and violence. This includes designing and building secure buildings, transportation infrastructure, and public spaces that are accessible to everyone. Sweco’s experts work with sustainable urban planning practices that promote social inclusion and reduce inequality. This includes designing and building infrastructure that promotes walkability, public transportation, and green spaces that are accessible to everyone. Architects and engineers help develop infrastructure for access to justice, such as courthouses, police stations, and correctional facilities. They also design and build facilities that provide legal aid services and support the rule of law.

Discover Placemaking – urban planning rooted in community dialogue and collaboration

About this goal

The world is more interconnected than ever. Improving access to technology and knowledge is an important way to share ideas and foster innovation. Coordinating policies to help developing countries manage their debt, as well as promoting investment for the least developed, is vital for sustainable growth and development.*

Sweco’s contribution to the goal

Architects and engineers collaborate with other professionals, such as urban planners, environmental scientists, and community development specialists, to promote sustainable development. By working together, they can ensure that projects are designed and implemented in a way that promotes social, environmental, and economic sustainability. In promoting public-private partnerships that support sustainable development, architects and engineers work with governments, NGOs, and private sector partners to design and implement sustainable infrastructure projects that benefit communities and promote economic growth. They also support international cooperation by working with global organizations such as the United Nations and the World Bank to promote sustainable development.

Participation in international conferences and summits such as UN COP conferences is a good way to share ideas and collaborate with other professionals from around the world. Sweco has a close collaboration with universities and academia to support education and awareness programs that promote sustainable development.

Discover Sweco’s collaboration with Novia University in Finland and the Arknat festival for architecture and engineering students

At Sweco, we aim to be a role model in sustainability, taking responsibility for and being part of the solution to society’s sustainability and carbon reduction challenges. With this plan, we show our commitment to do more to support and challenge our clients in delivering innovative solutions through expert consultancy and high-quality designs, as well as set ambitious internal targets,

Max Joy President, Sweco UK