Event archive

Event Organiser: ICE

What are the implications of climate change on military operations and how must engineering adapt? online

  • Webinar
  • Online
  • 17 June 2021
  • 09:00 - 10:40
What are the implications of climate change on military operations and how must engineering adapt? online

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Institution of Royal Engineers

This year the Joint Professional Meeting (JPM) between the Institution of Royal Engineers (InstRE) and the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) will consider the impact of climate change on military operations.

The significant recent rise in weather extremes, United Kingdom flooding and associated disruption are all by-products of climate change; the JPM will provide a platform to discuss new climate resilience demands and what these mean for operations and military engineering.

The worldwide pandemic has demonstrated how the engineering profession is able to respond rapidly to new challenges; the impact of climate change requires a fundamental adjustment now in order to adapt to the transformed environment as we concurrently build back better post COVID-19.

Presentations will examine the new challenges being faced by the engineering profession as a result of climate change, the resilience measures needed, how the military is preparing to tackle the new threats, and what the future may hold. The meeting will culminate in a Panel Question and Answer.

As you may be aware, climate change and Net Zero Carbon, are the ICE presidential themes for this year.

Watch Rachel Skinner's Presidential Address


08:45 Registration
09:00 Introduction by the ICE Chair
               Rachel Skinner
09:05 National Climate Change Threats and the Effects on the Engineering Profession
               Professor Richard Dawson
09:20 Environment Agency Perspective
               Caroline Douglass
09:35 Military Engineering in a Changing World
               Brigadier Joe Fossey
09:50 The Utility of Military Engineers on Overseas Disaster Relief and UK Resilience Operations
               Lieutenant Colonel Tony Cheales
10:05 Q&A session
10:35 Closing Remarks by the InstRE Chair
               Major General Nick Cavanagh CB
10:40 Event close


Co-chair: Rachel Skinner BSc(Hons) MSc(Eng) FREng CEng FICE CTPP FCIHT

President, Institution of Civil Engineers, Executive Director, WSP

Rachel Skinner

Rachel is Executive Director (Transport) of WSP and a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering. She is also the President of the Institution of Civil Engineers. In 2019, she was appointed by the Scottish Government as a Commissioner for the Infrastructure Commission for Scotland. Rachel is a Patron of Women in Transport (a not-for-profit), having been one of its founding board members since 2005. She is a chartered engineer, chartered transport planner and an ICE Fellow and Trustee.

Rachel was named in The Telegraph’s inaugural Top 50 Influential Women in Engineering in 2016, then in 2017 she won both “Most Distinguished Winner” and “Best Woman in Civil Engineering” at the European Women in Construction and Engineering Awards. In 2019 she was confirmed by the Financial Times as one of the UK’s Top 100 Women in Engineering. She is regularly invited to give keynote conference presentations and to chair or participate in panel discussions at national industry events.

A transport planner and geographer by technical background, Rachel has authored and co-authored several publications, most recently on driverless vehicles, shared mobility and future place-making. She is involved with strategic projects for clients across the public and private sectors, including leadership of a growing portfolio of future mobility projects in the UK and overseas.

Co-chair: Major General Nick Cavanagh CB

President, Institution of Royal Engineers

Major General Nick Cavanagh

Major General Nick Cavanagh was commissioned into the Royal Engineers in 1988 after reading engineering at Cambridge University. Over a full military career, he has commanded engineers on operations and exercises at home and overseas including operational tours of Northern Ireland, the First Gulf War, Bosnia, Kosovo, Iraq and Afghanistan. He has also completed a range of non-operational roles including as the Assistant Head of Army Infrastructure Plans, the Assistance Chief of Staff for the deployable Field Army, the Director of Manning for the Army and Director of Strategy and Planning in the Defence Infrastructure Organisation, Defence’s infrastructure advisory and delivery agent delivering c£3.5Bn of infrastructure spend annually.

Since January 2021 he has been the Development Director for the Advisory and Programmes Division within the European Region of Mott MacDonald. He was elected as the President of the Institution of Royal Engineers in October 2018 and was made a Companion of the Bath (CB) on the Queen’s Birthday Honours List in 2019.

Professor Richard Dawson CEng FICE

Director of Research & Innovation in the School of Engineering, Newcastle University

Professor Richard Dawson

Professor Richard Dawson CEng FICE is Director of Research & Innovation in the School of Engineering at Newcastle University. Richard’s research focuses on the analysis and mitigation of environmental risks to catchments, cities, and infrastructure networks. Most recently he was awarded £18M to lead the Global Challenge Research Fund Water Security and Sustainable Development Hub, a global consortium of research institutions and partners tackling climate change and water security.

Richard has published over 80 journal papers and been awarded the Fundación Aon Catastrophe Research prize (2019), Lloyds Science of Risk prize (2012) and ICE's Robert Alfred Carr prize (2004). He has editorial roles for the journals Climatic Change and Flood Risk Management. In 2019 Richard was appointed to the UK’s Committee on Climate Change, providing advice to the government on the adaptation of infrastructure to climate change. He is also a Lead Author of the Cities, Settlements and Infrastructure Chapter of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change 6th Assessment Report.

Caroline Douglass

Executive Director, Flood and Coastal Risk Management at Environment Agency

Caroline Douglass

Caroline is the Executive Director for Flood and Coastal Risk Management for the Environment Agency and is responsible for making this country a better place by protecting and preparing homes and businesses from flooding and coastal change and create climate resilient places for the future. Caroline joined the Environment Agency in 2013 and has a varied background in both policy and operational roles.

With over 25 years’ experience in the public service, Caroline worked with the State Government in Victoria, Australia prior to moving to the UK in 2011 and has been an Area Director and Director Incident management and Resilience in EA.

She is an experienced senior executive with a background in land and natural resource management and emergency management covering both policy and operational areas. Her experience in emergency management and incident response includes bushfire and flood response in Australia, the United States and the UK, including the 13/14, 15/16 and 2020 flood events in England. In 2008 she was the first female to lead a contingent of Australian and New Zealand firefighters to support the United States in Northern California with bushfire response. Caroline appeared as an expert witness at the Royal Commission into the Black Saturday bushfires in 2009.

Brigadier J E Fossey OBE

Joe Fossey

Commander 8 Engineer Brigade

Brigadier Joe Fossey commands 8 Engineer Brigade, the British Army’s engineers, explosive and search experts, its military working dogs and chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear specialists. He joined the brigade in August 2019, bringing more than 20 years of sapper leadership, Pentagon and British Cabinet Office expertise, and UK domestic and global operational experience to his role.

8 Engineer Brigade enables the British Army to live, move and fight, contributing to UK national defence, security and resilience through consultation, force preparation and development, alliances and support. Brigadier Fossey also oversees all British Field Army Sappers, is the UK’s Standing Joint Force Engineer and responsible for the Army’s engagement with South Asia.

Brigadier Fossey commissioned into the Corps of Royal Engineers in 1997 after reading Chemistry at Leicester University. He served with them in Bangladesh, France, Germany, Kenya, Oman, Poland, across the UK, and on operations AGRICOLA 1 and 7 in Kosovo, BANNER in Northern Ireland, TELIC 1 in Iraq and HERRICK 8 in Afghanistan. Closer to home, Brigadier Fossey ran the military response to flood relief across Hampshire and the Isle of Wight in 2014 while commanding 26 Engineer Regiment.

Brigadier Fossey is a graduate of intermediate, advanced and higher leadership training from the UK Defence Academy, an alumnus of Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Seminar XX1 programme and was recently seconded to the United States Army in Washington D.C. and British Cabinet Office in Whitehall before starting brigade command.

Lieutenant Colonel Tony Cheales MEng (Oxon) MSc(Eng) MBA CEng MIMechE MInstRE

Commanding Officer, 66 Works Group, Royal Engineers

Lieutenant Colonel Tony Cheales

Tony is the Commanding Officer of a military engineer unit which specialises in the assessment, design and delivery of water, fuel, power, security and materials engineering support to UK Resilience, International Disaster Relief and Warfighting Theatre Entry operations. He graduated from the University of Oxford and commissioned into the Corps of Royal Engineers in 2003. Most of his early career was spent in support of armoured combat units or the Royal Air Force, training in Germany, Poland, Falklands, Kenya and Canada and deploying on several operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

In 2009, Tony trained as a construction engineer and gained valuable professional experience in the design and construction of power stations, hospitals and prisons in Western Australia. Thereafter, he worked in the Ministry of Defence as a military engineering capability planner and went on to command an Armoured Engineer Squadron in Germany, delivering construction projects in Kenya and close support to a multi-national formation in mainland Europe. In 2016, he led a multi-disciplinary design and project management team delivering rapid infrastructure solutions to a diverse range of Royal Air Force operations. He studied at the Advanced Command and Staff Course, and during a placement to the Army Basing & Infrastructure directorate, he completed a Masters Degree in Business Administration.

Tony has actively supported the Environment Agency, NHS and other government agencies across a wide range of UK crisis events, including extreme weather, dam breaches and the COVID pandemic. In 2018, 66 Works Group were awarded the Firmin Sword of Peace for supporting the UK Government and British Overseas Territories to respond to and recover from serious hurricane damage across the Caribbean in 2017. In 2020, Tony deployed to Lebanon in the wake of the devastating blast in the Port of Beirut and provided engineering advice and support to the British Ambassador and Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office.

Event venue

United Kingdom

For more information please contact:

Barbara Etzi

e: [email protected]