Project managers 'should lead on climate change'

by PM Today Staff / 11/2/2017 10:43:58 AM

Project management has a significant role to play in reducing the causes and consequences of climate change, according to UCL Emeritus Professor Peter Morris, Vice-President of the Association for Project Management (APM).

In a new report entitled ‘Climate Change and what the project management profession should be doing about it’, Professor Morris reviews where society stands regarding the potential implication of climate change and what project management as a profession should be doing about it.

The report reviews the dimensions of the challenge and looks at how the profession could better achieve the targets agreed at the UN Climate Change Conference in Paris 2015.

 Professor Morris proposes:

  • Establishing a Project Management Office (PMO) at the UN level to define the expectations and methods to be using in working in the very early stages of projects; defining the major task elements, interdependencies, durations, risks, benefits, and organisational roles, processes and structures
  • Creating a single point of accountability (SPA) where possible
  • Project managers mitigating or adapting to climate change from business as usual projects to huge R&D projects
  • Applying relevant project management techniques and developing the required capabilities to develop people in owner and sponsor roles

In addition to his personal view, Professor Morris gathered responses from thought leaders in project management including: Sir John Armitt, Professor Andrew Davies, John McGlynn (APM Chairman) and Mark Thurston.

Professor Morris said: “Behaviours play a big role but unfortunately the behaviour changes required to achieve the UN targets are so major that one must doubt whether the goals are realistically attainable.

“Managing the institutional contexts within which projects and programs have to operate often requires a new type and level of skill. In effect, I am advocating a model of project management that involves a more probing, creative, front-end oriented approach.”

Sara Drake APM CEO said: “What is unique about this paper is that while much has been written about sustainability, this paper brings together all aspects of project management and how the profession can play an important role in shaping our future.

“We should engage with existing smaller groups to leverage all our knowledge and strength to help reduce the rate of carbon emissions and temperature rises. As the Chartered Body for the project profession, APM will reflect on the report’s recommendations and how the profession needs to address these challenges.”

The report is available to download here.

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