Project management profession needs to lead on climate change



New report by UCL Professor Peter Morris in UK outlines plan of action

5 November 2017 – London, UK – The Association for Project Management (APM) has announced the publication of a major new report authored by UCL Emeritus Professor Peter Morris and APM Vice-President titled Climate Change and what the project management profession should be doing about it – a UK perspective.  In the report, Professor Morris argues that project management has a significant role to play in reducing the causes and consequences of climate change.

Professor Morris reviews where society stands regarding the potential implication of climate change and what project management as a profession should be doing about it. The report reviews the dimensions of the challenge and looks at how the profession could better achieve the targets agreed at the UN Climate Change Conference in Paris 2015.

Professor Morris proposes:

  • Establishing a Project Management Office (PMO) at the UN level to define the expectations and methods to be used in working during the very early stages of projects; defining the major task elements, interdependencies, durations, risks, benefits, and organisational roles, processes and structures
  • Creating a single point of accountability (SPA) where possible
  • Project managers mitigating or adapting to climate change from business-as-usual projects to huge R&D projects
  • Applying relevant project management techniques and developing the required capabilities to develop people in owner and sponsor roles

In addition to his personal view, Professor Morris gathered responses from thought leaders in project management including: Sir John Armitt, Professor Andrew Davies, John McGlynn (APM Chairman) and Mark Thurston.

Professor Morris said: “Behaviours play a big role but unfortunately the behaviour changes required to achieve the UN targets are so major that one must doubt whether the goals are realistically attainable. Managing the institutional contexts within which projects and programs have to operate often requires a new type and level of skill. In effect, I am advocating a model of project management that involves a more probing, creative, front-end oriented approach.”

Sara Drake APM CEO said:”What is unique about this paper is that while much has been written about sustainability, this paper brings together all aspects of project management and how the profession can play an important role in shaping our future. We should engage with existing smaller groups to leverage all our knowledge and strength to help reduce the rate of carbon emissions and temperature rises. As the Chartered Body for the project profession, APM will reflect on the report’s recommendations and how the profession needs to address these challenges.”

Professor Andrew Edkins, Professor in the Management of Projects, University of London said:” Peter Morris is Emeritus Professor of the Management of Projects at UCL. After a long and successful career as both practitioner and renowned academic, his swan-song is a paper that is written in a personal yet professional style that seeks to both engage and provoke the reader. Its topic is climate change and the role that the discipline of project management can offer.

“To achieve the paper’s objective, it provides an overview of climate change and why it’s important, then looks at the nature and types of project that have been proposed or initiated to both tackle climate change and adapt to its consequences.

“The key contribution of the paper is not to offer a solution or even a pathway to any solution. It is rather to instigate a discussion, by those who consider themselves within the discipline of project management and between this discipline and those for whom dealing with climate change is a major and increasingly important issue.”

The report is available to download here.

For further information or to arrange an interview please call Cat Finlayson on 0773 607 1158 or email [email protected]

Founded in 1972 and a registered charity in the UK with more than 21,000 individual and 540 corporate members, the APM received a Royal Charter in April 2017.  The APM is dedicated to the development of professional project, programme and portfolio management across all sectors of industry and beyond. APM, with branches throughout the UK and in Hong Kong, is also the UK national representative in the International Project Management Association (IPMA).  More information at http://www.apm.org.uk

Source: Association for Project Management