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The guest was Dr Jing Peng, Chair of the Committee on Engineering for Innovative Technologies (CEIT).

    Mel De Gioia 0:24

Welcome to Engineering Leaders Mini Series in the lead up to the very first World Engineering Day for Sustainable Development in 2020. This mini series is being supported by the World Federation of Engineering Organisations. My name is Melanie and my co host and our podcast’s resident engineer is Dominic. Today’s episode is on the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal Number 15, Life on land.

    Dom 0:52

Our guest today is a hydraulic engineer like me. She’s the vice president of the China Institute of Water Resources and Hydro Power Resource, China’s largest and National Research Institute on water and hydro power. She’s also the chair of the standing Technical Committee on engineering for innovation technologies for the World Federation of Engineering Organisations, and is the Secretary General for the connecnational Association for Hydro Environment, Engineering and Research. Joining us today to speak on UN SDG 15, Life on Land is Dr. Jing Peng.

    Mel De Gioia 1:29

Peng decided to become an engineer in high school, because she greatly admired the engineers who created the solid world around her. And she felt that this career would give her a real sense of accomplishment.

    Guest 1:41

So I admired from that time, the engineers.

    Mel De Gioia 1:46

Now, our episode today is about the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal Number 15, which is Life on Land. What can you tell our listeners about this SDG in particular?

    Guest 1:57

In my view, I think SDG 15 has two key words. The first one is protect, it’s


protect the life on earth.


The second one is restore, to


restore those that are under serious threat.


Here I think the life refers to a complete and inter related life system on land. For example in freshwater, including forest, rivers likes where land, mountains and grasslands is essential. They are all factors of ecosystems of life on earth. And


life on earth is an integral part of the biosphere of our planet.


It’s this part that has made our globals so colourful and lively. And it’s this life system that has given birth to us, the human beings in the world, and has provided the resources that sustain our life.


So to protect a life on earth is to protect a home and a future.


That’s my understanding for this SDG.

    Mel De Gioia 3:28

It’s all very connected life on earth and humanity and just you know, we take the resources from the earth, but we are also part of the earth and it’s it’s a really big synergy there.

    Dom 3:40

Was there a particular inspiration that brought you to align yourself to this UN SDG?

    Guest 3:45

I think to do anything, the most important point or crucial aspect is to explore the principle behind or in simple words, the way things go naturally. This is a knowledge level. The practical level, you should follow the principle to go forward. If you do so, you’ll get success, especially in a long term sense. If not, you failed. This is what we call finding the right way to do the right thing. So back to the theme of SDG 15. To protect the life on land, comes out in the same logic, I think. The


understanding about the nature and the relationship between human things and other life,


on land is a process that is constantly developing. Now we have recognised that the importance of co-existence of life on land, so we get asked to align our work to do it. I think is exactly how the sustainable development goes from concept from idea to real actions. Once you identify with or


believe in the right goal of sustainability, you will translate into each into every aspect of your work and life.


    Mel De Gioia 5:32

Yeah. Is there an example of something that you’re working on as an engineer that’s contributing towards the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal number 15?

    Guest 5:42

Yes, I would like to give you examples. Actually, in terms of professional work, or from the point of view of scientific research and engineering project. We once carried out a study on the operation or the routine flooding plan for Three Gorges project. Which is I suppose, you know, one of the largest reservoir in the world.

    Mel De Gioia 6:15

Dom’s nodding his head.


So that’s why I would like to talk about that one. Once we have the task to study on its operation plan, so with a protection and restoration of aquatic ecosystem in mind, what we reached out finally, is very much a multi purpose operation plan. That means in addition to the purpose of flood control water supply, and hydropower generation, etc., which are mainly from the consideration of the needs of people, we also consider the needs from the fishery in the river. So consideration is also be given to providing, for example, seasonal flood flow, or we call it “flood pulse”, which is needed exactly for the local fish spawning. So this is, I think, a very concrete example of how we protect fish and biodiversity in the Yangtze River, a large river, from the engineering point of view.

    Dom 7:49

It’s a great example I oddly enough, I was reading about the Three Gorges Dam last night so it’s always very interesting to speak with people who’ve been involved in those projects. Is there something that you hope to achieve in regards to UN SDG 15 in 2020?

    Guest 8:07

My expectation for the year 2020 of course, above all, I wish the UN SDG 15 make new progress in all dimensions. Since we have all dimensions for example, a forest the biodiversity, but especially for the protection of biodiversity. And all the lives on earth could be living in harmony. Because, say


life on earth, we are very interconnected to each other.


We share all the resources together, and we actually affect each other personally this year. I have a very specific wish for 2020. Actually this year in May, I will be working on competition for the innovative ideas and solutions on sustainable transportation. It is organised by the UN and the World Federation of Engineering Organisations. I wish more girls could be interested and stuff made to their ideas and solutions. Personally, I think it’s not only a competition or event, it is so tough campaign to raise awareness, especially the young to have the realisation of how the SDGs is there and what the actions from across the world be taking for the SDG achievement.

    Mel De Gioia 10:00

What was the name of the competition?

    Guest 10:02

For the innovative ideas and solutions on sustainable transportation.

    Dom 10:09

That sounds like a wonderful challenge for the year

    Mel De Gioia 10:12

About transportation as well.

    Guest 10:15

Yes, I think transportation is one of the main activities for human beings on Earth. It has an impact to the life around us.

But we can also do very good creative activities to protect the life on earth


in terms of transportation. It’s all connected to each other.

    Mel De Gioia 10:43

It’s almost like you can do any project and as long as you consider the whole ecosystem and the position of human life in the grand scheme of things, you’re almost covering off this UN SDG.

    Guest 10:55

Yes, and actually, I add my understanding. For example, when you build the road in the rural areas, sometimes you have very much impacted to say wildlife. So you have to consider how you protect the life on earth in that area. So that’s exactly what the SDG 15 mentioned, we should protect the life on earth and we should really restore what is under threat.

    Mel De Gioia 11:32

I hope some interesting solutions come out from that competition because it sounds like a great one to be holding this year.

    Guest 11:38

Yes, that’s my specific wish for this year.

    Dom 11:42

Thank you so much for joining us today.

    Mel De Gioia 11:44

Thank you for joining us.

    Guest 11:45

Thank you very much for taking your time.

    Mel De Gioia 11:48

And thank you for tuning into Engineering Leaders as we prepare us for the first World Engineering Day on Sustainable Development, which is going to be held every fourth of March. We hope you’re enjoying our mini series which is brought to you with the support of the World Federation of Engineering Organisations. The best way for you to show your support for our show, is to tell people, either in person or write a review. Just spread the word. Seriously, it is that easy. We look forward to you and your friends joining us next time when we bring you another episode with one of our engineering champions.

Transcribed by

Dr Jing Peng is a hydraulic engineer. She’s the vice president of the China Institute of Water Resources and Hydropower Research – China’s largest and national research institute on water and hydropower.

Jing is also the chair of the Standing Technical Committee on Engineering for Innovative Technologies FOR the World Federation of Engineering Organization. She is also the secretary general for the International Association for Hydro-Environment Engineering and Research.