Transformative trends driving development
Urbanisation, sustainability and digitalisation are the trends that impact Sweco’s clients to the greatest extent and hence drive Sweco’s business. Medium- and short-term developments within these broad trends spur demand for Sweco’s expertise in a range of areas, such as construction of resource-efficient industrial solutions and creation of modern transportation infrastructure and reliable energy solutions.
Urbanisation in transition
Population growth, demographic shifts and greater prosperity have for many years been driving an urbanisation wave on a global scale, often exemplified by the migration of people from rural to urban
areas. Today, urbanisation interfaces with digital developments and with efforts to improve sustainability to create new development and movement patterns. The proliferation of digital tools has decoupled many types of work from a geographical location, reducing the need and tendency to gravitate workplaces towards city centres. The overall attractiveness of city centres has also declined due to the strong growth of e-commerce. In contrast, the expansion of urban-like areas close to, but outside, typical metropolitan regions is accelerating. This development, along with increasing demands for climate-adapted and sustainable solutions, is driving demand for a new type of urban planning, one in which smarter solutions from the micro to the infrastructure level are needed to connect expanding cities and areas.
Focus on energy transition
Reducing climate impact while meeting society’s growing energy needs is a major and highly relevant challenge, involving efficient energy consumption and a transition to renewable energy sources. Rising geopolitical tensions have also highlighted the vulnerability of energy dependence and the need to improve individual countries’ self-sufficiency. Working with and achieving an energy transition will create new jobs and business opportunities as new energy sources, technologies and systems are developed and implemented.
Sustainability for increased resilience
Much of the world is currently facing increasingly serious crises and challenges. Geopolitically, in addition to human suffering, war and a deteriorating security situation have led to energy crises, economic crises, supply chain bottlenecks and shortages of goods and materials. With climate changes and loss of biodiversity, there is a risk of serious damage to societies and ecosystems. Together with the after-effects of the pandemic, the above events have created an economic downturn and great uncertainty. Many European cities and societies are currently in need of action plans and concrete measures to ensure water, energy and material supply in the event of crisis or war. Climate changes, with increased rainfall, higher temperatures and rising sea levels, also places demands on urban planning for new and existing areas.
The industry, property and infrastructure sectors are increasingly interested in circularity due to increasing raw material prices, stricter climate goals and more proactive and ambitious policies. New buildings are designed for future re-use of materials and products, and existing buildings are retrofitted to improve performance and extend the buildings’ life. This creates new business models, partnerships, and the need for large amounts of data from the entire life cycle.
Welfare and social sustainability
Deteriorated geopolitical security, the pandemic and pulsating migration have increased focus focus on social sustainability as urban development is pressured by the political unrest and economic uncertainty. Government investments in the common welfare have explicit sustainability and climate transition requirements, where ” Building Back Better” has influenced European politics and is considered as the way forward after the pandemic.
Digitalisation – a facilitator
We are in the midst of an information revolution, with the digitalisation of society well underway. The development curve is exponential, and advanced IT solutions that link everything together are playing an increasingly important role in shaping tomorrow’s sustainable cities and communities. There has never been greater opportunity to steer development towards a sustainable future through digital solutions, circularity and the green economy. This rapid evolution means that today’s engineers need to have a helicopter perspective, mastering all the advanced technologies that are emerging and understanding how these can be applied to actively support sustainable development. Digital solutions can be used in urban development processes to streamline everything from design to resource utilisation in areas spanning construction, transport and energy solutions.