As climate change climbs the rankings of business risk, SRK Consulting recently gathered over 50 of its specialists in a virtual workshop to integrate and strengthen its climate change services.
Organised by SRK’s South African Climate Change Reference Group led by Ashleigh Maritz, Philippa Burmeister and Lisl Pullinger, the two-day event included nine parallel sessions discussing over 20 topics.
“Climate change mitigation and adaptation are placing growing demands on businesses in every sector, and on governments,” said SRK Principal Sustainability Consultant Lisl Pullinger. “It is raising social, environmental and governance risks, and threatening economic activity with a range of possible disruptions across the globe.”
Senior Environmental Scientist Ashleigh Maritz highlighted that SRK’s engineers and scientists have for many years been developing tools to monitor and benchmark these risks, and to address them in client’s operations. Key to these efforts has been SRK’s strategic commitment to collaboration.
“Integration between the various disciplines and skill sets of our professionals is really vital in addressing climate change,” she said, “as destabilised weather patterns have countless impacts on every aspect of social and economic life.”
The company’s focus in continuously developing its range of services is to ‘mainstream’ the consideration of climate change in project planning and execution. Critical fields such as water management, environmental impact, infrastructure capacity, social vulnerability and mine tailings design are demanding more attention than ever.
“Our recent workshop explored many of these vital areas, including greenhouse gas accounting, water stewardship, community adaptation, green mine design, tailings management, climate change impact assessment and disaster prevention and management,” said Principal Scientist in Air Quality and Climate Change Philippa Burmeister.
The company’s extensive service offering helps clients to build resilient infrastructure, by posing a range of climatic conditions or design criteria to assess vulnerability and improve resilience. Clients are also assisted with emergency response plans, and with contingency solutions to minimise the consequences of an event.
“A field of particular interest within SRK is the use of data management tools, which capture data efficiently and automate processes such as greenhouse gas (GHG) calculation,” said Burmeister. “The company also uses advanced computing and data science to predict potential climate-change risks and inform design. We combine this approach with a wide suite of professional services, helping clients generate and apply an effective mitigation and adaptation strategy.”
The success of the South African event has led to SRK planning a global workshop in 2021 that will virtually engage specialists from SRK’s offices on all six continents.
SRK – bio for Climate Change Reference Group leaders
SRK’s South African Climate Change Reference Group is led by Ashleigh Maritz, Philippa Burmeister and Lisl Pullinger.
Ashleigh is a Senior Scientist in SRK’s Johannesburg office. She has a MSc in biochemistry and 13 years’ experience in the mining, water, climate change, energy and infrastructure sectors. She focuses on the integration of climate change into mine and infrastructure design to ensure that related risks are addressed in the early planning phases.
Philippa is a Principal Scientist in SRK’s Durban office, with a BSc Hons in environmental science and 18 years’ experience in sustainability assessment. Her work has focused on air quality and more recently on climate change, including the use of a range of integrated environmental management tools in the industrial and mining sectors. Philippa brings a strategic perspective to the team, to execute innovative solutions to challenges posed by climate change.
Lisl is a Principal Consultant with SRK’s Johannesburg office, and has a Masters degree in Communication Pathology. She has 20 years’ experience in the field of stakeholder communication and community development, leveraging this experience to round out the team with her skills related to social impact management. Lisl has worked extensively in the African mining environment and has a thorough understanding of how social license to operate can influence operations and projects. She uses this experience to help identify project risks resulting from climate change impacts to surrounding communities and employees.