Matthew Sutton

19 September 2013 — Environmental challenges are substantial but not insurmountable.

That’s the message from AECOM’s global environment chief executive Matthew Sutton, in Australia this week as a keynote speaker at CleanUp 2013 – the 5th International Contaminated Site Remediation Conference in Melbourne.

Mr Sutton oversees the global management, strategy and business operations of Fortune 500 company AECOM’s environmental management business, leading more than 4500 environmental professionals working on projects in more than 100 countries.

He said there was great potential to address the world’s environmental challenges by applying the collective muscle of cross-border talent and global technical expertise.

“There is so much knowledge and skill around the world, and we are so connected as a global community, that there is enormous potential in working together to improve and sustain our environment, despite the energy and development challenges that are all around us,” he said.

“The world’s greatest challenge is to understand and expertly manage carbon, energy and development while preserving and sustaining the environment for healthy living and resilient communities.

“We need to deal with the environmental degradation already with us, and restore the environmental value we’ve lost, to ensure the communities of tomorrow get the most from their built, natural and social environments.”

Mr Sutton said AECOM’s technical practice networks – a virtual global community that shared best practices in key technical disciplines – was just one way the organisation used its forces to solve environmental challenges.”

Mr Sutton’s presentation at CleanUp 2013 on “emerging contaminants” brought together current thinking on the most effective strategies for site clean-up, restoration and reuse, with insight on how to deal with emerging or evolving contaminants that will have major impacts on site remedies and financial reserves.

AECOM’s Australia New Zealand managing director – environment Frank Mohen said “climate change, water security, Australia’s unique biodiversity, urbanisation and coastal management” were some of Australia’s biggest environmental challenges.

“As the world’s driest habitable continent, Australia is particularly vulnerable,” he said.

“Our natural resource reserves and our dependence on, and export of, fossil fuels adds to the complexity of mitigating and addressing the effects of global warming in an Australian context.

“The challenge is managing development in such a way that such development is providing maximum benefits while minimising impact on climate change and biodiversity.”