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Jean Venables honoured with CBE for services to civil engineering
Dr Jean Venables has been awarded a CBE in the 2010 Queen's Birthday Honours List. This follows her MBE in 1997 for Services to Civil Engineering and her OBE in 2004 for services to flood defence.
Jean was the first woman in the 190-year history of the Institution of Civil Engineers to be elected ICE President. Her major theme during her ICE Presidential Year was climate change – and especially the need for both mitigation of CO2 emissions and adaptation to the predicted effects, and the crucial role of engineers and related disciplines in delivering both.
Jean is one of the UK’s leading experts on strategic flood risk management. From 1994 to 2003, she was Chairman of the Regional Flood Defence Committee of the Environment Agency, Thames Region. She initiated and was then an expert advisor to the Thames Estuary 2100 Project that culminated last year in a plan for flood risk management in the Thames Estuary through to the year 2100.
Her extensive experience of the Thames has been further utilised through her Chairmanship of the Thames Estuary Partnership, an organisation that brings together individuals and organisations with different, sometimes-competing interests for the benefit of the Thames Estuary and its people.
In her role as Chief Executive of the Association of Drainage Authorities (ADA), a major activity has been participation in the Pitt Review following the 2007 floods, leading to an influencing role in the passage of the new Flood & Water Management Act 2010.
Jean Venables looks forward to continuing to assist the UK in tackling the challenges of strategic flood risk management and adapting to climate change, and to support her profession through Venables Consultancy.
Jean Venables is inaugurated as President of the ICE
On 4 November 2008, Jean Venables became President of the Institution of Civil Engineers – the first woman President in the Institution's in 190-year history.
Jean pledged to use the platform of her presidency to promote debate on key issues such as climate change and risk management, as well as focusing on diversity within the profession.
In her Presidential address, Jean said: "Climate change is widely regarded as the biggest risk and challenge we face today. Action must be taken now if we are to have any hope of meeting our targets in 2050, and investment must continue despite the current financial problems.
"What we are building now is going to dictate what greenhouse gases are emitted from our buildings and infrastructure in the decades to come. We have got to engender the same sense of urgency and importance about climate change that the recent banking crisis has had.
"Engineers have the skills to deliver the solutions to climate change that the country and indeed the entire world needs. It is time to ensure they are placed right at the heart of infrastructure policy decision making, advising the government every step of the way."
Jean, who was awarded an OBE for her services to flood defence, joined the ICE as a student in 1967, became only the 16th female Chartered Member, and is keen to encourage more women into the profession: "The ICE currently has only 8% female membership across all grades, so clearly there is much to be done to get more women into civil engineering. However, the landscape is already changing with 20% of the student and graduate member grades being women.
"And it is not just about women. If we are to truly encourage diversity we must also look at the proportion of ethnic minorities and disabled workers and recruit from the whole pool to get the best talent."
Jean Venables elected Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering
We are delighted to announce that Jean Venables has been elected a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering.
As Britain’s national academy for engineering, the Royal Academy brings together the country’s most eminent engineers from all disciplines to promote excellence in the science, art and practice of engineering.
Their strategic priorities are to enhance the UK’s engineering capabilities, to celebrate excellence and inspire the next generation, and to lead debate by guiding informed thinking and influencing public policy.
Election to become a Fellow is therefore one of the highest accolades that professional engineers can bestow upon their colleagues, and Jean is acutely conscious and proud of the honour of her election. She looks forward, as other commitments permit, to playing her part in taking the Academy forward.
The Association of Drainage Authorities' head office now at Cranes Drive
In January 2006, Jean Venables took up the post of Chief Executive of the Association of Drainage Authorities (ADA). Jean took over from David Noble OBE who retired after 18 years at ADA. The appointment is part-time and with support provided through her colleagues at Venables Consultancy.
ADA is the membership organisation for those involved in water level management, including Internal Drainage Boards, Environment Agency Flood Defence Committees, the Northern Ireland Rivers Agency, Local Authorities, Consultants, Contractors and Suppliers.
For nine years, until 2003, Jean was Chairman of the Thames Regional Flood Defence Committee and was a Vice President of the Association for three years before taking up her new post, so she is familiar with many of the issues ADA members are facing and brings wide-ranging experience to the many challenges and opportunities ahead for ADA and its members.
Get Innovation and Research Focus by email
You can now receive the latest issue of Innovation and Research Focus (IRF) free by email.
IRF is a quarterly newsletter, edited by Roger Venables, with the aim of promoting the application of research in building and civil engineering.
The online version of IRF was set up in 2003 and has been continually improved and expanded. This latest addition to the IRF website will allow the newsletter to reach an even wider audience than to date.
To register for this service use the link to the IRF website mailing list. Registration takes less than a minute.
Thames Estuary 2100
In Spring 2005, Jean Venables was appointed to chair the Expert Panel for the Thames Estuary 2100 Project, which is investigating all the options for flood risk management in the Thames Estuary up to 2100.
The project is a result of an initiative Jean supported in 1999 when Chairman of the Thames Region Flood Defence Committees, together with her fellow chairmen in the Anglian and Southern Regions.
Following the 1953 floods, it had taken 30 years for the Thames Barrier to be operational. It is predicted that the level of protection provided by the Barrier and the downstream walls will drop below the 1-in-1000-year design return period in 2030.
With this in mind, Jean and her colleagues pressed for a proactive approach to looking at future flood defences for the region, which led to the setting up of the Thames Estuary 2100 Project.
Jean is especially pleased to be involved in this project, which is very close to her heart. Her long-standing concern about, and involvement in, Thames flood defences and flood risk management is exemplified in her Chairmanship of the Thames Region Flood Defence Committee from 1994 to 2003.