A Professional in housing and urban development, Dr Kwadwo Ohene Sarfoh, has underscored the need for environment, social, and governance (ESG) norms and practices to enhance sustainable infrastructural delivery.
He said the role of consulting engineers would become increasingly valuable with the mainstream adoption of ESG practices in the country.
Dr Sarfoh was speaking at the 2023 Urban Environment Sustainability Conference organised by the Ghana Consulting Engineers Association (GCEA) in Accra.
He said “The ESG will enhance its competitiveness and brand, boost their disposition to innovations, and be holistically ethical in their actions even as they deliver sustainable infrastructure in their commissioned assignments”.
GCEA is an association made up of indigenous legally constituted and registered consulting engineering firms licensed to practise in the country.
Speaking on the theme; “Sustainable Infrastructure: Can we do better?”, Dr Sarfoh called on the members of the association to be intentional in their commitment to ESG norms and practices.
He explained that the mainstreaming of ESG must first start with each individual practice.
“It needs values modification, practice disruption and re-orientation, unlearning and relearning, and generally a remodelling of corporate structures.
All of these cannot be undertaken without pain or cost,” he said.
Dr Sarfoh said Ghanaian consulting engineers could mainstream ESG through fundamental steps including supporting awareness creation among members and clients through conferences and seminars, targeted educational programmes, public debates and other civic engagements.
Presently, Dr Sarfoh said, one could not find any such platforms at the national level targeting executive- level practitioners as those assembled.
“At best, there are a few free online courses that lack local contextual fore grounding. Related to that, office-level staff training programmes are not well tailored and, very often, are left to individual staff to pursue at their own costs and convenience,” he stated.
He said the development of industry practice notes and guidance, codes of professional conduct, advisory circulars, and such heuristic tools were also important for ensuring sector-wide appreciation and accommodation of ESG.
“These tools have compelling powers that ensure minimal practice standards”, he pointed out, and stressed that lack of such tools in Ghana was a general malaise of professional practice in the country and ran across various professions and business associations.
Dr Sarfoh said there must be a clear vision for the development and consistent implementation of ESG frameworks and tools to assess and monitor the performance of infrastructure projects to align with key covenants such as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Paris Agreement on climate change.
The President of GCEA, Magnus Lincoln Quarshie, said the responsibility of sustainable infrastructure lay with everyone, government, businesses, investors and citizens alike.
He called on all to collectively embrace a paradigm shift, moving from traditional infrastructure development to one that was deeply embedded in sustainable principles.
“The transition to sustainable infrastructure is not without its own challenges; this conference seeks to map out strategies and solutions to address those challenges”, Mr Quarshie added.
He said the conference theme highlighted the urgent need to invest in infrastructure in a sustainable way at the national level where “we could improve the environment that we all depended on.”
The conference also sought to map out strategies and solutions to address those challenges.