The human population is being faced with the prospect of natural resources running out by the end of this century.
And the reduction of what many once took for granted as being infinite has brought the dawning realization that countries have to collectively get smart about how to manage what is available now.
The numbers speak for themselves. The world is currently on a trajectory to hit a 2.5°C increase by the end of the century.
The ideal goal, according to the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, would be a temperature increase of 1.5°C by the end of 2099. When it announced these figures at COP27 last year, which was held in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, it also gave a target of reducing global greenhouse gas emissions by 43% by 2030.
With only seven months left to COP28 in UAE, it is more important than ever before that we rapidly transition to a more sustainable society.
One way many countries are attempting to implement techniques to assist the change is through STEM education. By encouraging study in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics fields, it is possible to harness the technologies humankind needs to combat the current sustainability challenges.
Ebru Özdemir, Chairwoman at Limak Holding, says these disciplines are integral to discovering and implementing the advances we need: “They play a pivotal role in driving innovation and finding solutions to the pressing environmental challenges we are facing together. STEM learning will be integral to us moving forward collectively to secure a sustainable society.”
Limak has interests in construction, infrastructure, energy, and tourism. It was recently announced that the Turkish conglomerate was going to be heading up the reconstruction of the new Barcelona FC stadium – Spotify Camp Nou, which started in June 2023. In 2022, Limak also completed work on the 1915 Çanakkale Bridge, the world’s longest mid-span suspension bridge, and the Yusufeli Dam, Türkiye’s highest and world fifth-highest dam.
Özdemir, who spoke at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, in January on the importance of STEM learning, and its role in sustainability, said: “We have seen significant advancement through STEM in encouraging more sustainable practices.”
She added: “Engineers and scientists have been able to design innovative recycling and waste management systems, which means we can recover and reuse valuable materials. STEM disciplines contribute significantly to minimizing waste and maximizing resource utilization.”
One key point Özdemir makes with regard to STEM learning and its role in sustainability is the lack of women in STEM-related fields. “As a woman in STEM myself and as a Board Chair, it is rather disappointing to think how little progress has been achieved despite the many efforts being put into improving the statistics on women in STEM”, she says. “On a personal level, I find statistics of female inclusion in the STEM fields, especially at a leadership level, upsetting”, she continues. “STEM fields are the future of progress, and I firmly believe that there are actions to be taken in every sector and at every level to make STEM more accessible to all, particularly to women”.
Özdemir, who wants to see more women involved in the engineering field, believes strongly in the importance of the partnership between STEM and sustainability. Based on Limak’s almost eight years of successful experience with Engineer Girls of Türkiye (EGT), she founded Global Engineer Girls (GEG), an international philanthropic initiative to inspire the next generation of female engineers. The initiative educates, enables and empowers women to explore careers in STEM. It currently operates in four countries, including Türkiye, Kuwait, Kosovo and North Macedonia and aims to expand in different countries where the Company operates.
“We need to promote gender equality in business, government, and culture for a sustainable, inclusive and future-proof economy,” says Özdemir.
“Whilst everyone should play their part in the sustainability agenda, women are perfectly placed to drive sustainable practices and methods and help build a more sustainable future. Having more resilient women means being able to build more resilient societies”.
She adds: “Women bring structural and cultural differences to the table, driving successful solutions. This creative standpoint and unique sense of awareness allow women to uncover the finer details that often get missed.”