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How prepared are you to play your part in delivering a better future?

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Project professionals are well-placed to play a leading role in sustainable development and already have many of the skills required. Uncovering complexity, navigating uncertainty and engaging stakeholders are just some of the activities of a project manager. These activities are also at the heart of the quest for sustainable futures by communities around the world. 

I'm delighted to have the opportunity of joining APM Scotland members at the annual conference on Net Zero Nation and Sustainability on 7th September 2023 for an interactive session where we will explore some of the latest thinking on sustainability in project management and practical steps you can take on your projects.

Conventional ideas about projects as linear processes are not inherently sustainable. Together, we will explore the mind shift, and practical steps, required to transform project management to be fit for building a better future.

I will draw on the thinking from the fields Responsible Management and Sustainability Mindset to discuss the new skills project professionals need to handle complexity, uncover uncertainty, identify risks and be prepared to exploit new opportunities. Meanwhile, a new competency framework will be suggested, selected practical tools and techniques will be introduced and a template for planning a project using Responsible Project Management will be shared with participants.


Can you increase circularity through project management?

Dr Melissa Marques-McEwan

A circular economy is essential in building a sustainable future where the remaining precious materials and ecosystems on Earth are protected. We can only achieve this if we use the resources that are already flowing through the economy more wisely, keeping materials in a perpetual loop. Achieving this circular economy where everything loops back and nothing is wasted is all about implementing words that we’ve known for a long time — reduce, reuse and recycle. However, despite the simplicity of this concept, its implementation remains limited, with the world being less than 9% circular at present.

In my session, I will incentivise an honest discussion on whether the circular economy is compatible with project management. Can the principles of reduce, reuse and recycle be part of all stages of a project, including conceptualisation, execution and decommissioning? Are they complementary to deliverables of time, cost and quality? Or do they involve too much risk for a project?

To understand your perspective and experience with trying to implement reduce, reuse and recycle in project management, we will distribute a survey prior to the session. We will then present and discuss the results with you and have an open discussion where we can exchange our experiences. Lastly, we will briefly discuss the legislative landscape in Scotland and what that might mean for project management in the future.

About the author:

Dr Melissa Marques-McEwan is Assistant Professor in Sustainable and Circular Businesses at Heriot-Watt University. She focusses on understanding how businesses can take advantage of reuse, sharing, remanufacturing, and recycling to increase their performance and competitive advantage.


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