Sunday, 29 May 2011

What the world needs...

survey crew
'October 2010 Alaskan
Viaduct Closure' by
WSDOT under a CC license. plenty of things. Clarity and simplicity? Peace on earth? Food for all? Money? Ideas? All of those things? Which ones exactly, depend on your point of view but, really, I don't think there is a right or wrong answer here. The world is a game of many players, where all can do their bit to influence the result.

A friend send me a link to Architectes de l'urgence the other day. I felt surprised. Even though I am an engineer myself. Even though I am aware of the contribution of engineers in many places around the globe, where the need for (re)construction exists.

I felt surprised possibly because in our everyday life, houses, roads, manufacturing plants, schools, office buildings, etc., are taken for granted. I felt surprised simply because there is nothing hero-like in the view of an engineer. And it's not just me, I believe. Many have heard of Doctors without borders - but that is human health we are talking about. Don't worry. I won't go to claiming that we should reserve a cheer for engineers. But I feel like reminding me (us) that what the world may truly need is expertise.

Expertise. Expertise in construction, IT, medicine, agriculture, education, food processing, energy, etc. Expertise on all those things that are the structural elements of modern life as we know it. That is the thing that can make the difference. And, indeed, you can't have development without the right minds (and hands) in place (and in the right order). Even when you achieve development, you still need the right experts to ensure sustainability.

That's certainly not a personal discovery of mine. Generating or enriching in-house expertise, attracting the right people, achieving the right level of education, etc., have all been in the competitiveness/ innovation agenda of communities (countries and  regions) for quite some time now; take the Marie Curie schemes as an example. But still, I find that, as a priority, it tends to fall under the radar quite often - possibly because expertise costs, without leading to direct profits.

I believe that investing in expertise, preferably in a sustainable way, needs to stay on table, especially in times of crises. In the same way that expertise should be part of any emergency aid package, be it a response to a natural catastrophe or human destruction.

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