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Policy Statement 517 - United Nation's Sustainable Development Goals


Approved by the Committee for Sustainability on March 18, 2016
Approved by the Public Policy Committee on May 13, 2016
Adopted by the Board of Direction on July 9, 2016


The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) supports implementation of the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals (SGDs) as they apply to improving the quality of people's lives around the world through science and engineering. ASCE works in collaboration with other domestic and international organizations to engage engineers in addressing the needs of the poor through capacity building and the development of sustainable and appropriate solutions to poverty. In particular, organizations and engineers should be encouraged to consider the appropriate sources of investment and donations, provide guidance on infrastructure investment, and consideration of the varying abilities of persons to pay for (and/or develop capacity for) services and infrastructure through rate structures.


In an age of interdependence, global citizenship is a crucial pillar of progress. Science and engineering can contribute answers to address many issues that are facing the developing world. By 2050 over two billion additional people are expected to populate the Earth, 95 percent of them in developing or underdeveloped countries. This growth will create unprecedented demands for energy, food, land, water, transportation, materials, waste disposal, earth moving, health care, environmental cleanup, telecommunication, and infrastructure. The role of engineers will be critical in fulfilling those demands at various scales, ranging from remote small communities to large urban areas, and mostly in the developing world. In 2007, engineers embraced a vision to contribute to the building of a more sustainable, stable, and secure world. We must train a new generation of engineers who can better meet the challenges of the developing world, and address the needs of the most destitute people on our planet. Today, an estimated 20 percent of the world's population lacks clean water, 40 percent lacks adequate sanitation, and 20 percent lacks adequate housing.


Engineers of the 21st century play a critical role in contributing to peace and security in an increasingly challenged world. The engineering profession has an obligation to provide solutions to meet the basic needs of all humans for water, sanitation, food, health, and energy, while at the same time protect cultural and natural diversity and conserve and sustainably use resources. To those ends, ASCE worked with the SDG Implementation Committee through the World Federation of Engineering Organizations and its US member, the American Association of Engineering Societies' International Activities Committee Task Force on Global Sustainability.

By helping meet the SDGs the engineering profession contributes to a world where all people have access to the knowledge and resources with which to meet their basic human needs and promote sustainable development in such areas as water supply and sanitation, food production and processing, housing and construction, energy, transportation and communication, income generation, and employment creation

ASCE Policy Statement 517
First Approved in 2006