Energy & Climate Change, Natural Environment

In the run up to the globe's most important meeting on climate change, the #CIWEMtalksCOP26 series asks thought leaders from the water and environmental industry and beyond to answer a common question: what do you most want COP26 to deliver? Here we'll be serialising their answers.

Darragh is a Chartered Scientist, Chartered Water and Environmental Manager, Member of the Institute of Engineers Ireland and a Fellow of the Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management (FCIWEM). He is incoming chair of CIWEM’s Republic of Ireland branch for 2021/2022 and current member of CIWEM’s Wastewater and Biosolids specialist panel.

He has over ten years’ experience in the environmental sector transitioning from focused research (as a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellow) to delivering critical water and wastewater infrastructure projects. An accomplished scientific researcher and water engineer his unique skillset has contributed to the development of a successful career in a leadership role within Ireland’s water and environmental industry. He's also an environmentalist who appreciates the complexity and role applied scientific and engineering principles play in underpinning strategic developments.

Currently working as Coftec (a Coffey company) innovation manager he is responsible for the identification, development, and deployment of novel water related technology for use in both municipal and industrial contexts. This is as well as the development of strategic, collaborative business relationships and identification of new routes to market through technological avenues.

His work also involves identifying and leading new enterprise opportunities contributing to business diversification and growth.

"Looking forward to this year’s programme of events there are several aspects to consider. It is encouraging to see the COP26 goals closely aligning to overarching international environmental policies and initiatives as well as those closer to home, from an Irish perspective.

"There is a distinct focus now the development and implantation of workable sustainable solutions which underpin climate action principles. I am thinking specifically about government commitments to net zero carbon emissions, more sustainable agricultural practices, the development of greener public transport systems and water conservation. These initiatives are to be commended, no doubt, however at this year’s event I would like to see an emphasis on scalable solutions.

"To date much of the rhetoric regarding climate action and sustainable living takes on a broad-based approach with the focus on national rollouts or city-centric proposals. The socio-economic impact of applying generalised solutions at large scale is not always equal across various sections in our communities. By developing regional or localised models for the implementation of climate action initiatives we can begin to get a better understanding of the impact across society.

"It also presents a unique opportunity to establish regional/localised circular economies whereby resource management is at the control of cooperative type organisations. This bottom-up approach allows for more accurate feedback from end-users and will better inform those charged with the development and implementation of climate action plans.

"I would like to see a commitment at COP26 to actively engage with key stakeholders at a regional level with respect to the initiatives outlined in the programme. I would like to see the delivery of a regional/localised focus group or alliances of stakeholders whose voice is heard among international leaders.

"Our rural communities, towns and villages will ultimately be on the front lines when it comes to implementing climate action plans and they will be among the greatest affected by their impacts. The visions outlined in the Paris Agreement, the UN Convention on Climate Change or the UN Sustainability Goals mean little to many of those outside these forums.

"COP26 must acknowledge this and act accordingly to develop programmes for education and knowledge dissemination throughout communities and encourage commitment through early stakeholder engagement and collaboration at local level. To this end I especially look forward to the outcomes of both the Youth and Public Empowerment and Cities, Regions & Built Environment sessions."

Connect with Darragh

Connect with Darragh

Darragh Hobbs is Coftec (a Coffey company) innovation manager and incoming chair of CIWEM’s Republic of Ireland branch for 2021/2022

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