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Sustainable Urban and Industrial Development

The ESD programme proposes to play a unique role in capacity building and developing guidelines for sustainable development of both urban and industrial realms. Particular emphasis is given on management of natural disasters in the urban setting and industrial development to reduce emissions to the environment.
The governments and policy-makers in developing countries have been under an increasing pressure to adopt rapid industrial development processes to meet the immediate demands of their teeming populations. But shortcomings in this development process and lack of environmental foresight have often linked economic productivity to an energy intensive and ecologically destructive technoculture. Another consequence of rapid population rise has been an unplanned growth of urban areas. Given this challenging scenario, the ESD Programme focuses on enhancing networks to facilitate transfer of sustainable technologies to developing countries.

Our research activities also focus on broader implications of human lifestyles and consumption patterns on trade and environment. Specifically, the focus is on the national scale to explore the use of life cycle assessments (LCA) in the new environment and trade friendly eco-labeling schemes, both for developing and developed countries.

The conservation of environmental and natural resources is closely linked to maintaining the development in both urban and industrial context at a sustainable level. As is stated in Agenda 21 (Chapter 4):

Achieving the goals of environmental quality and sustainable development will require efficiency in production and changes in consumption patterns in order to emphasize optimization of resource use and minimization of waste. In many instances, this will require reorientation of existing production and consumption patterns that have developed in industrial societies and are in turn emulated in much of the world.

This statement has to be viewed in the context of the explosion in world population. The world population is projected to reach as high as nine billion by the year 2050. This is an indicator of rapid population growth in the last few decades, which has in turn placed high pressures on both urban and industrial development. To further compound the problem, the population growth has taken place primarily in developing countries which have relatively poor urban and industrial infrastructures.

Among the developing countries, there has been increasing pressure on the governments and policy-makers to go for rapid industrial development. Unfortunately, this has often times happened with significant environmental impacts. This appears even worse when considering that there are available methodologies and technologies that can help maintain the industrial development at a sustainable level. Similarly, another consequence of rapid population growth has been unbridled growth of urban areas. There are currently seven or eight mega-cities in the developing world that have populations greater than ten million; with several more cities with populations at fairly similar, but somewhat smaller magnitude.

In this context, UNU can play a unique role in both capacity building and developing guidelines for sustainable development of both urban and industrial realms. The ESD Programme will focus on developing of networks that support transfer of effective and sustainable technologies to the developing countries, resulting in capacity-building. Similarly, appreciating the unique problems faced by mega-cities, the past activities undertaken by UNU can lead the way to the next millennium.

Another area of focus deals with the implications of trade and the environment on the broad scale on human lifestyle and consumption patterns. This is important considering the implication of changing consumption patterns on the trading capability of different countries. Specifically, the focus is on the national scale to explore the use of life cycle assessment (LCA) in the new environment and trade friendly eco-labeling schemes both for developing and developed countries.

Projects and Initiatives:
Zero Emissions Forum
For effective utilization of earth's limited resources, the reduction of potentially adverse emissions (gas and liquid effluent, solid and hazardous wastes, etc.) to zero is promoted. This is sought as an effective means to uncouple the links between economic growth/material consumption and ever increasing resource utilization, waste generation and environmental damage.
Go to the ZEF Website ...

Natural Disaster Risk Management
This research aims at contributing to the better understanding of natural disaster risks and to improving disaster mitigation and management to save human, physical and financial resources.
Go to the Glodisnet Website ...

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