The second wave of industrialization and urbanization in many developing countries, and continuing economic growth and consumption in industrialized countries, have led to an acceleration of natural resource use, climate change and a suite of related environmental impacts. The supply chains for natural resources have become more complex and it is harder today to gain knowledge about the environmental footprint of certain products and processes. While the industrialization of developing countries has lifted millions out of poverty it has also contributed to increased global environmental change. To reverse this trend, and to allow the global economy to stay within the limits of the Earth's resources and ecosystems, the new sustainable development goals call for economic activity and consumption and production processes to be underpinned by large investment and appropriate policy settings to guide decoupling of economic activity from environmental pressure and impacts. This opens a huge window of opportunity for industrial ecology to deliver the knowledge base to transition the current economic pattern to sustainable consumption and production. Industrial ecology concepts and tools support creating sustainable value chains for products and services, to build human settlements and design industrial systems to be maintained with lower material and energy throughput and with fewer emissions. For new industrial ecology technologies and practices to become economically viable and socially acceptable it will require new policy settings and business decisions supported by institutions and governance arrangements that encourage and drive innovation and experiments that ultimately serve decoupling. This conference will investigate the newest insights from the science of industrial ecology to support technological solutions, policy innovation and new business models for sustainable development. This is a critical decade for reconciling human development and environmental protection and we explore the contribution industrial ecology can make.
This GRC was held in conjunction with the "Industrial Ecology" Gordon Research Seminar (GRS). Refer to theassociated GRS program page for more information.