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Environment Business Observations With WSP USA’s Dennis Papilion – Part 1

Environment Business Observations With WSP USA’s Dennis Papilion – Part 1

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Published 6 hours ago

Submitted by WSP

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Dennis Papilion The new president of WSP USA’s Earth & Environment business (E&E).During his nearly 30-year career in engineering and environmental management, he has witnessed many changes.

He and his teams have been in positions of increasing responsibility at large firms and have managed the shifting policies, regulatory philosophy and funding priorities that result from presidential and congressional election results, as well the ups, downs, and fluctuations of the business cycle.

Papilion expressed optimism regarding current trends in environmental segments and WSPs increasing sophistication as it serves clients, protects public health, and uses natural resources.

Among the trends that excite Papilion

  • The increasing integration of climate change into financial regulation and investor strategies is a good example of this.
  • WSPs ongoing evolution to a top consulting and advisory firm for sustainability, climate change mitigation and management risk management continues.
  • Greater incorporation of resilience and conservation into large-scale public- and private sector projects

He also spoke about the important opportunities for WSP to address these trends, and improve our position in the environment industry.

  • Utilizing the expertise of WSPs recently purchased firms, such as Golder (EarthCon), Climate Finance Advisors and Climate Finance Advisors, to cross-sell services to clients in private and public sectors, and to increase their clientele,
  • To position yourself for larger multi-year restoration and remediation projects, leverage new technologies and applications from WSP.

1. What is the current state of the market for environmental service? And what are your expectations for the next two years.

The environmental market is booming. This is due to increased social and scientific awareness, industry response to climate change, and the focus on environmental socio governance (ESG), and the change in presidential administrations for 2021. President Biden’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), is initiating new rulemakings to reverse rollbacks made by the previous administration, particularly in relation to climate change. Biden has also requested a budget increase of over 20 percent for the EPA’s next fiscal year.

Well also sees large growth from infrastructure spending.

WSP USA and other environmental companies must increase their staff resources to meet these demands. Companies are constantly looking for industry veterans and specialists to join their ranks. This creates a battle for talent.

Many leaders of the Baby Boom generation are retiring soon or are planning to retire. We were therefore focused on recruiting new grads and working with high schools to teach students about the increasing opportunities in the engineering and environmental fields.

2. What can WSP USA do internally to prepare itself for the generational shift in leadership?

Facilitate training. WSP has a tremendous talent pool and we need more training opportunities to allow junior- and mid-level employees to be able to meet the demands of clients and projects. Additional training is necessary to keep up with changing specialties.

We are especially interested in developing our internal capacity and capabilities in climate-related financial transparency and analyses. This is an emerging specialty where we are particularly focused. I am very excited to bring on the CFA team, a small consulting that has gained strong credibility with multilateral funders such as the World Bank and a variety of private-sector organisations and governments.

3. How is the climate crisis affecting financial practices and what can WSP do for clients?

This is a growing priority that has gained traction over recent years. Investors and lenders are requesting that companies assess and disclose their climate risk. This includes the transition risks from changing energy and environmental policies, as well as the physical risks like extreme weather and sea-level rise. They also want to know how they plan to address those risks.

The Task Force on Climate Related Financial Disclosure (Global Reporting Initiative), Sustainability Accounting Standards Board, International Integrated Reporting Framework Board and other organizations demand higher levels of integrity, transparency, and accountability around climate, social, and governance (ESG) and general climate.

To meet these increasing demands, we are expanding our skilled staff and drawing on the CFA acquisition as well as other internal experts in climate, resilience, sustainability to provide cross-training and specialized support. The big picture is that our service portfolio has evolved from traditional environmental design, engineering, and engineering to provide robust advisory capabilities in this massive transition.

The most recent Verdantix Green Quadrant ReportWSP was ranked alongside ERM and EY in the top four leaders in sustainability consulting and ESG consultancy. This reflects our achievements.

4. What other trends do see influencing the environmental markets over the next one or two years?

Corporate clients are changing their approach to regulatory compliance. They are now evaluating the risks across all of their assets. This is driven by the priorities of the Biden Administrations.

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Following the administration’s decreased emphasis on enforcement, environmental managers are now more focused on meeting these requirements.

5. The U.S. Supreme Court is currently reviewing the EPA’s application of Clean Air Act to greenhouse gasses. Are you concerned that a negative decision could decrease the pressure on large emitters

Large companies involved in oil and gas, electricity, and other emission-intensive industries know that the long term trend is towards reducing GHGs and shifting business models to lower-carbon activities. They hear this from large institutional investors, lenders, customers, and other stakeholders.

A negative decision could reduce some regulatory pressure on large emitters but the long-term trends remain strong and clear.

6. What will the $1.7 Trillion Build Back Better infrastructure bill package have to do with environmental services?

Here are a few things. One, all infrastructure projects will require environmental assessments and mitigations. This will increase our business and force us to hire more staff to ensure regulatory compliance and avoid unnecessary delays.

For resilience and mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions, it will also be necessary to design long-lasting infrastructure such as bridges and highways. This is an evolving goal. It could be described as developing a resilient structure using composite materials, and designing it to withstand the effects of climate change and sea level rise. It also includes the construction processes and materials.

It is becoming more important to clearly define how these infrastructure projects will contribute to greenhouse gas reductions. This is a great opportunity for environmental scientists and engineers to work together. This is one aspect that I think will be key to how these large-scale projects are planned and built.

Stay tuned for Part 2 of Dennis Papilion’s environmental business observations.

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WSP employs more than 55,000 people worldwide and is one of the largest engineering, advisory, sustainability consulting, and environmental firms in the world. We develop sustainable solutions in the building, transportation, energy, water, and environment markets and create equitable, ESG-centered strategies to help organizations and communities adapt and become more resilient.Be in touch with the past. Innovate for the Future.Learn more

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