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Thought Leadership

Climate Response: The Opportunity Ahead

Senior Vice President, Office of Global Climate Response and ESG, Jan Walstrom shares her insights

Future Foundations. Climate
This article was originally published on LinkedIn by Jacobs' Senior Vice President, Office of Global Climate Response and ESG, Jan Walstrom

The latest data from the Copernicus Climate Change Service finds that the 12 months to April 2024 were the warmest on record1, with communities around the world now firmly in the grip of climate change. As the impacts intensify, there isn’t a region, business or government that will not be affected. But this is not a fait accompli – there is action we can take, today, to lay the foundations for a resilient future.

In my position leading Jacobs’ climate response and ESG activity, I have the privilege of seeing meaningful progress, every day. Around the world, businesses and communities are thinking differently to limit global warming through carbon reduction measures and reimagining infrastructure for a changing climate. And it’s bearing fruit. The latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change notes progress across all sectors and regions in adaptation planning and implementation.2

So, we’re seeing momentum, but we must move faster to scale solutions – and crucially, we must move in lockstep to get there. How cohesively countries, cities, communities and businesses tackle this challenge will determine our success. 

Three opportunities for collective climate action

We have huge potential to co-create solutions that transcend boundaries and accelerate progress toward a more climate-resilient future. Here are three routes that represent low-hanging fruit for communities and businesses:

Embed climate risk assessments in every infrastructure decision 

Climate impacts should be a central consideration in the management of existing infrastructure and in the design of new buildings and assets. Undertaking risk assessments of existing and planned infrastructure empowers infrastructure managers with an understanding of climate exposure and vulnerability. Advanced modeling capabilities leveraging global data sets support comprehensive scenario planning, enabling data-driven decision-making and smart prioritization. 

For example, we partnered with the Environment Agency in England to develop a cloud-based platform to improve forecasting and decision-making during flood events. The Flood Incident Mapper, which leverages the technology behind Flood Modeller, allows for instant creation of hydraulic models to forecast flood extents associated with failure or overtopping of flood management assets (walls, pumps, gates) during a storm event. At the click of a button, users can create detailed hydraulic models and simulations in a cloud environment. The system also provides instant statistics on asset data, ground elevation models (LiDAR) and existing flood warning areas, which further supports operational decisions. 

Assess potential for nature-based solutions 

Environmental remediation is critical to protect ecosystems and make communities more sustainable and resilient. Impacts of chemical contaminants, such as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), are compounded by climate change through flooding and ocean spray emissions, for example. Including nature-based solutions such as natural flood management or wetlands water treatment in infrastructure projects minimizes environmental impact – and in some cases, enhances it. 

Prioritize our most precious resource – water

Water is the lifeblood of communities and economies. We have the solutions to manage water more efficiently and sustainably, meaning SDG6 – ensuring water security for all – is within reach. It is critical that we prioritize digital technologies that make water networks smarter and more sustainable, and scale innovative water reuse approaches so that equitable and resilient water services become a reality for all communities. 

From improved flood prediction to reduced energy usage in facilities, data solutions are transforming the global water sector. At Jacobs, we’re using innovative digital technologies to improve how we plan, design, build, maintain and operate water and wastewater infrastructure. We can maximize this opportunity through what we call a Digital OneWater approach. A complete system-wide strategy to digitalization – moving beyond optimizing assets and networks in isolation – will move the needle on water security.

At Jacobs, we’re fortunate to be working with clients and partners globally who are committed to rising to the challenge of climate change. By sharing best practices and fostering collaboration, we can scale solutions and accelerate action on mitigation and adaptation. 

Working together, we can lay the foundations for a sustainable, prosperous, and secure future for all. 



About the author

Jan Walstrom

As Jacobs Senior Vice President of the Office of Global Climate Response & ESG, Jan Walstrom is responsible for leading a corporate function that acts as the connecting point for Jacobs’ end market and enabling market solutions, where every project the company plans, designs and delivers now becomes a climate response opportunity for our clients within the framework of energy transition, decarbonization, adaptation and mitigation, and natural resource stewardship. Additionally, the Office is coupling climate response with Environment, Social and Governance (ESG) which has taken on heightened significance, both within Jacobs and externally as companies around the globe rise to the climate challenge and address urgent social issues.  

Get to know Jan

Future Foundations.

Co-creating the world to come

Smiling african american woman wandering around city boulevards during nighttime, pointing at interesting billboards on skyscrapers. Businesswoman strolling around streets illuminated by lamps

From developing climate resilience and transitioning to a low-carbon future, to modernizing and transforming infrastructure, governments and businesses face critical challenges. How they respond will define our future.

As our clients navigate these challenges, we help them think differently – working together to pioneer tomorrow's infrastructure solutions and build the foundations for a prosperous, secure future. 

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