2022 SDG Pioneer for Climate Mitigation

David Orr

Trade and Investment Account Leader

Mott MacDonald

United Kingdom

Carbon reduction efforts are making headway in Kenya and India, thanks in no small part to the work of David Orr.

Orr, a trade and investment account leader at Mott MacDonald, a global engineering, management and development company, manages the conception, delivery and implementation of a nationwide carbon reduction pathways tool in the two emerging economies. 

The tool, called the 2050 Carbon Calculator, is an energy model that can be used by governments, stakeholders and the public to determine how to decarbonise a region or country and to develop evidence-based policies. 

It’s an open-source and evidence-based approach to carbon management in line with the Paris Agreement and is specifically designed for each country by in-country experts.

Orr spearheaded initiatives across several national-level digital tools that he works on to ensure that, for the first time, their more than 100 sectors are linked to SDG sub-targets.

The UN Global Compact has named Orr the 2022 SDG Pioneer for Climate Mitigation. The SDG Pioneer programme each year honors company professionals who promote the 17 Sustainable Development Goals.

“I’m thrilled to be selected as an SDG Pioneer,” Orr told the UN Global Compact. “It is incredibly special to be recognised for having played a role to help businesses become more sustainable by engaging with the SDGs.

“The award validates the importance of this transition, and I’m excited to use it as a conversation starter to help drive more businesses – in the UK and globally – towards sustainability,” he said.

At Mott MacDonald, Orr said he has encouraged the company to help meet the climate challenges of emerging markets, using the SDGs as inspiration.

“The impact is striking,” he said. “Mott MacDonald’s climate work in emerging markets has quadrupled since 2020.”

He recently was appointed an Associate at the University of Cambridge’s Judge Business School, where he said he plans to focus on how industry and academia can collaborate better to respond to the climate challenge.

“A major challenge is the language of sustainability itself,” he said. “Understanding and adapting sustainability language to suit specific markets and stakeholders is therefore crucial to secure their buy-in. If not, we risk delaying the transition to sustainability longer than necessary.

“I would love to help the private sector better operationalise their sustainability plans,” he added. “Many companies have ambitious sustainability targets but struggle to make them a reality…. When done right, companies have the clout and resources to create a sustainability cascade effect across industries.”


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