December 18, 2023

By 2050, an additional 1.7 billion people will inhabit the earth. This global population of 9.7 billion will aspire to have much of the same things we all hope for now: nutritious food and clean water for our families, access to high-quality healthcare, and to live lives free of natural disasters brought about by climate change. 

Technologists — and in particular IEEE members — have an undeniable ability to make these hopes a reality. But the world is facing an unprecedented series of threats from climate change that may make that difficult.

That’s why I believe that IEEE’s mission matters now more than ever.

From the organization’s earliest days, IEEE members have aspired to the organization’s mission: advancing technology for the benefit of humanity. 

For example, during the pandemic, IEEE members provided solar electricity in Africa to operate Covid-19 test centers as well as vaccination centers. Our members continue to work to improve the lives of people today, working around the globe to provide affordable, reliable, and carbon-free electricity in many remote parts of the world. 

With 344 sections and more than 2,700 chapters worldwide, IEEE has facilitated the active participation of thousands of volunteers to improve the lives of others  through direct participation. 

Even when our members aren’t on the ground directly contributing to humanitarian projects, they can be found facilitating research and sharing knowledge that directly contributes to improved quality of life all over the world. 

In agriculture, in healthcare, affordable energy, and in clean technology, IEEE members are making a difference. 

Over the past year, I’ve been gratified by the tremendous interest among IEEE volunteers to actively participate in the betterment of their communities. I have sensed a strong desire for more opportunities to engage on new initiatives on this front at all levels of the organization.  In particular, I want to highlight the Climate Change Pavilion at the IEEE Sections Congress in Ottawa, Canada, in August, which served as a platform for engagement with IEEE volunteer section leaders from across the globe. I was able to talk and take photographs with many of them. I hope the resources and content shared at the Pavilion provided volunteers a template that can resonate as a best practice for years to come, especially on ways to advance discussions and dialogues on important issues. 

IEEE bridges the gap between challenges and technological solutions. Through its vast network and dedicated volunteers, the organization not only envisions a better future but actively works towards it. As we look towards 2024, I hope we can continue to  work together to build a better tomorrow for all of us.

Saifur Rahman is the 2023 IEEE President and CEO, an IEEE Life Fellow, and the founding director of the Advanced Research Institute at Virginia Tech, where he is a professor of electrical engineering. Over the years, he has served IEEE in a number of capacities, including as president of the IEEE Power and Energy Society, and as the founding editor of IEEE Electrification Magazine and IEEE Transactions on Sustainable Energy.


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