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Flood Resilience PhD Student Widi Auliagisni Named Future Thinker Of The Year 2024

Widi Auliagisni has become the sixth young leader awarded the Future Thinker of the Year title. The annual award, run by the New Zealand Green Building Council (NZGBC), acknowledges a student or young professional who demonstrates environmental knowledge and leadership and recognizes their success and passion for greener, better buildings and communities.

“As the recipient of the 2024 Future Thinker of the Year award, I see this honour as an opportunity to inspire others to voice their passions and drive positive change,” she reflects.

Widi is a Doctoral student in Emergency and Disaster Management at Massey University and an Assistant Project Manager at Beca. She has completed a Master of Construction at Massey University and a Bachelor of Science in Architecture at Institut Teknologi Bandung, Indonesia.

Growing up in Indonesia, a country prone to various natural hazards, she developed a passion for resilient architecture and disaster management that has heavily influenced her PhD research here in Aotearoa. Her research focuses on community resilience to natural hazards and sustainability, particularly in the Northland district, where she works closely with at-risk communities to enhance flood resilience.

“My research has illuminated the devastating impact of recurring floods on communities, prompting an urgent call to halt construction in floodplains. I have witnessed firsthand the resilience of communities facing adversity and advocate for collective action to build resilience from the ground up. This includes reevaluating building practices and fostering dialogue on the importance of protecting our floodplains. Remember, having a green and sustainable building is great but this would not work if it were built in the wrong place,” says Widi.

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The award was announced at an event last night held in Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland.

One of this year’s judges, - Amanda Bryan, Technical Director of Sustainability and Built Environment at Mott MacDonald, says that this year's finalists presented fresh, innovative ideas that inspire sustainable change in the industry.

“We see sponsoring Future Thinkers as being important to grow sustainability, build capacity in the industry, and provide leadership by developing career pathways for the Future Thinkers to follow by recognising and supporting the next generation of talent. Congratulations to those who submitted and the finalists.”

Widi was celebrated on the night alongside this year’s finalists; Elizabeth Norris, an Architecture Graduate working for Design and Make Architects, Francisco Carbajal, Managing Director of Capana Group and Founder of LCAlink, and Mike Murray a recent Master of Architecture Graduate from Victoria University of Wellington.

First ever Emerging Leader award announced

For the first time, the judges also presented a second award, the Emerging Leader 2024 to Francisco Carbajal, recognising the work Francisco has already done to progress and advocate for sustainable change within the built environment. In combination with founding and building Capana Group, Francisco has dedicated himself to teaching at universities, nurturing the next generation of future leaders.

With a huge cohort of students and young professionals entering the industry with a passion for sustainability, NZGBC chief executive Andrew Eagles says it’s refreshing to see the calibre of entrants for this year’s award.

“There’s a huge opportunity for those joining the industry to make a real difference. Buildings account for 20% of New Zealand’s emissions, so innovation in carbon and sustainability is essential to reducing our impact and creating better futures for our tamariki and mokopuna. It’s great to hear the energy of our Future Thinker finalists on how we can step up and meet the challenge of a lower carbon more resilient future. Construction emissions are going in the wrong direction, so it's inspiring to see new passionate ideas,” Andrew Eagles says.

As the Future Thinker of the Year, Widi will contribute to numerous events and speaking opportunities throughout the year.

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