5th June 2020

World Environment Day – it’s time for nature

On World Environment Day our Head of Sustainability Simon Richards looks beyond the impact of Covid-19 to reflect on our direction of travel, the positive progress we have made over recent years and how we drive the sustainability agenda forward.

Today is World Environment Day (WED), an opportunity for us to consider our impact on the planet and how we can build sustainability into our everyday lives.

There is no escaping that this year WED is somewhat overshadowed by our ongoing battle with Covid-19.

That said, I think parities can be drawn between the two. Climate change and environmental degradation are happening on a global scale and, as with Covid-19, it will take our collective effort to turn the tide to protect our future. Much has been said about the natural environment rebounding as a consequence of our actions to curb the spread of this pandemic, with the more optimistic amongst us seeing a chance to reset and reshape the world in a more sustainable way.

History will judge us by our response to this pandemic, and the same can be said for the way we react to the environment challenges we face.

As we navigate through these uncertain times, it’s important not to lose sight of the positive steps which were already being taken to meet those challenges prior to the pandemic and the increasing importance with which sustainability is being treated.

For Sir Robert McAlpine, embedding sustainability into our operations has been a focus throughout my more than 12 years in the organisation and I’d like to take the opportunity, on World Environment Day, to share and celebrate some of the highlights of our recent performance.

While we have some positive results to share, it doesn’t end here of course, and we’re certainly by no means finished. We’re already building on this performance with our latest Sustainability Strategy, embedding sustainability yet further into our everyday thinking and operations.

Performance highlights

Looking forward

We can take huge encouragement for the future from this performance. It shows what can be achieved when we act collectively, and that sustainability has a critical role to play in driving profit. There are synergies between the two, and a sustainable business model can be one which places ethical practices and environmental benefits as key drivers and measures of success.

As we move beyond the current pandemic, we need to bear in mind the lessons we have learnt. Covid-19 has taught us that we all need to take ownership of our future, which is a key driver in our new strategy - giving our projects and people the freedom and flexibility to target and deliver meaningful, lasting benefits to our clients, projects, local communities and the wider environment.

In the current climate, it’s more important than ever to not lose sight of the positives. Whilst objectives and priorities may have shifted in the short term, the business case for embedding sustainability into our operations, arguably has grown.

Sustainability permeates through every aspect of our business, touching design, procurement and construction phases of our projects. Its effective implementation presents opportunities to collaborate, embrace innovation and deliver efficient processes in project delivery. Effective delivery of our strategy and aspirations will make us a more sustainable business, helping us win work and build a long-term resilience, facilitating a sustainable recovery.

And if you’re wondering today, what you can do, as an individual, to lessen your environmental impact, my tip would be to take some to consider where you spend your money.


For me, this is the most powerful action we can take as individuals. Supporting sustainable products and an economy driven by environmental awareness and responsible business practices.


Happy World Environment Day!


Simon Richards, Head of Sustainability
Sir Robert McAlpine

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