5 Sep 2019

FT director, David McHugh, is new President of the Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management

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FT director, David McHugh is 33rd President of the Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management (CIWEM).

David McHugh, consultant with over 20 years’ experience specialising in civil and environmental engineering, is the new president of the Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management (CIWEM).

The UK-headquartered CIWEM is the leading chartered professional body dedicated to sustainable management of the environment globally and being appointed President is a massive honour, according to David McHugh.

It is in fact a double honour for Mr McHugh and the expert team at multi-award winning and Cork city headquartered Fehily Timoney as the firm celebrates 30 years in business this year and continues to grow its unrivaled portfolio of projects across the renewable energy, infrastructure, waste management and urban development sectors.  He leads the Energy and Planning department at the globally-recognised engineering, scientific and planning consultancy firm and is also responsible for operations across the company.

David McHugh is passionate about environmental sustainability, which drives his professional and personal pursuits, and will be inducted as President at his Alma Mater, University College Cork (UCC), on September 12.  The evening will be attended by members of CIWEM’s Trustee Board, including its outgoing President, David Wickens, as well as members of the organisation’s Republic of Ireland branch, which is co-hosting the event in conjunction with MaREI, the SFI Research Centre for Energy, Climate and Marine.  It will include an address by Professor Jerry D Murphy, Chair and Professor of Civil, Structural & Environmental Engineering at UCC and Director of MaREI and is open to members of the public.

Mr McHugh says he’s revelling in the challenges ahead as the 33rd President of the 10,000-member professional institution. His Presidential theme is the climate and ecological emergency and he will focus on mobilizing the technical community to take action on the climate crisis and become effective change agents.


This is an expanded role for us in the technical community.  The scientific disciplines have traditionally focused on establishing facts and analyses, which are in turn used by policy makers to inform their work.  However, we need to become more vocal in promoting the most appropriate policy responses; indeed, we need to create champions of our members, as CIWEM noted in its declaration of a climate and ecological emergency in July 2019.  In taking on this new advocacy role, we will need a new skill set.

To mobilise society to action, we first need to engage people’s hearts.  Storytelling will be an essential part of our toolkit. For millennia, humans have used storytelling to make sense out of life.  Now we need a new story that will inspire the wider public and spur us into action to tackle this crisis.  It will need to be underpinned by an inspiring vision with an audacious level of ambition.  The story that I want to tell is how the human race reaches drawdown, a reversal of global warming or more specifically ‘the point in the future when levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere stop climbing and then start to steadily decline.

Environmental professionals must step up and provide leadership to the public in tackling the climate crisis.  We need to embrace a bold vision: to reverse global warming.  To achieve this, we must become storytellers, sharing this story of hope and opportunity,” Mr McHugh concluded.

Professor Patrick O’Shea, President of UCC said: “As one of the world’s leading universities in sustainability, we at UCC are delighted and proud of our alumnus, David, for this wonderful recognition of his accomplishments.”

The presidential induction 2019 celebration will take place at University College Cork on 12th September at 18:00. Registration is required for the free event.  Details of CIWEM President induction 2019 can be found here.