WEDA Issues ‘Call To Action’ On U.N. Sustainability Goals

The Western Dredging Association (WEDA) is issuing a “call to action” to its members to send in detailed accounts of how dredging contributes to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)—and how it might do more. WEDA recently released a 39-page white paper sketching out how dredging activities align with, and contribute to, the goals.

The WEDA initiative follows the 2016 “Statement on Mitigating and Adapting to Climate Change,” issued by the World Organization of Dredging Associations (WODA), stating that “concerted and timely efforts for climate change mitigation and adaptation are crucial to reducing risks to people, and to safeguarding human social and economic well-being, and the ecology of the planet in the near and long term.” A follow-up document by WODA, the 2022 “Statement on the Decarbonization of Dredging,” endorsed the 2015 U.N. Paris Climate Change Agreement as well as the 2015 U.N. Sustainability Goals.

Those sustainability goals are sweeping. Some, including “no poverty” and “zero hunger,” are less connected to dredging activities. But others are more relevant. WEDA reckoned 11 out of the 17 goals to be “pertinent” to its members’ activities, including “good health and well-being,” “quality education,” “gender equality,” “decent work and economic growth,” “industry, innovation and infrastructure” and “sustainable cities and communities.”

Goal 6 is “Ensure access to water and sanitation for all,” Goal 13 is “Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts,” and Goal 14 is “Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development.”

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One acknowledged goal of this project is communication, by showing how dredging already plays a key role in cleaning up the environment. Examples provided help tell the industry’s story. Many of the examples already submitted detail riverbed cleanups of decades-old pollution and toxic chemicals. Other examples detail education partnerships, such as Weeks Marine’s partnership with North Shore Technical Community College in Louisiana and the WEDA Fellowship Program.

“By providing this information, our dredging and marine construction projects will be recognized for their positive contributions. … This will lead to increased opportunities for WEDA members [and] encourage WEDA members to advance SDGs. … The exercise of developing this white paper revealed how often the dredging industry is already involved with projects that support the socioeconomic and environmental goals of the U.N. SDGs.”

Besides telling positive stories about WEDA members’ actions and their contributions to the environmental goals, one of the stated goals of this initiative is to “attract the next generation to meaningful careers by demonstrating the dredging industry’s dedication to addressing tangible economic, social and environmental challenges, including equitable opportunities for employment.”

The document includes a submission form members can use to send in further case studies and examples.