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About – Overview
The idea of Zero Emissions
A central theme of our envisioned Zero Emissions society is the complete utilization of materials via symbiotic flows: one sector's waste becomes another's input. The term Zero Emissions describes the idea of improvement towards maximal utilization of materials and zero emissions of harmful substances. The UNU Zero Emissions Forum was founded in April 1999 as a continuation of UNU's Zero Emissions activities.
"The ultimate goal of Zero Emissions is to create a new type of society that seeks to achieve a social and industrial transformation whereby humankind "mimics" the sustainable cycles found in the world of nature. This high ecological ethics is nonetheless a vivid concept we must uphold for years to come."
Hans van Ginkel, Vice-Secretary General of the UN & Rector UNU (since 1997)
Our major objectives and activities
The UNU Zero Emissions Forum brings together representatives from business, government, academia and NGOs in pursuit of three main objectives:

1. Pilot Projects
  • Promotion of collaborative pilot projects between industry, government, academia and NGOs to pave path towards and implement Zero Emissions, e.g. the Kawasaki Eco-industrial Park (Japan), the Eco-town of Kita-Kyushu (Japan), the clustering of industries in Burgenland (Austria), the "Solving the E-Waste Problem (StEP)" Initiative. ZEF encourages additional projects by creating a forum for different sectors of society to work together.
2. Research
  • Zero Emissions Economy deals with the question of what economic transformations are required to realize a Zero Emissions society. The ultimate goal of this work is to suggest system changes that will steer society towards a sustainable "landing point".
  • Synergies between approaches to sustainability examine the array of strategies/tools that have been emerged in addition to Zero Emissions, such as Cleaner Production, Factor 4/10, Life Cycle Assessment, Natural Step and Pollution Prevention. The goal is to understand how these tools relate to each other and can collectively combine to plan for sustainability.
A subset of research results is viewable in Publications.
3. Knowledge Management & Capacity Building

ZEF provides a platform for exchange of information between acting and potential practitioners regarding best practice as well as to promote the idea to new audiences. These objectives are carried out by holding events such as conferences, symposia, lecture series and study groups as well as through print and electric dissemination. An online library for Zero Emissions related publications is on the way.