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Eco-industrial parks emerge as an effective approach to sustainable growth

Eco-industrial parks emerge as an effective approach to sustainable growth
Photo credit: KSG

25 Jan 2018

Three development organizations have joined forces to create a new framework defining the key elements of eco-industrial parks, setting up a common understanding of how to promote economic growth, while protecting the environment, workers and the public.

The framework is laid out in a new report, An International Framework for Eco-Industrial Parks, intended as a guide to policymakers and practitioners on the critical elements that will help governments and the private sector establish economically, socially and environmentally sustainable eco-industrial parks.

Published jointly by the World Bank Group, the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), and Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), the framework recognizes the growing importance of what are variously called industrial parks or areas, special economic zones, and export processing zones.

While these zones deliver important economic benefits, they also have the potential to concentrate negative environmental and social impacts, such as pollution, greenhouse gas emissions and poor labour standards. Developing and emerging economies seeking to increase industrial output need to decouple economic growth from environmental and resource inefficiency to meet wider social objectives.

Eco-industrial parks, or EIPs, can create a more sustainable operating environment for firms to compete, and create jobs through efficient use of resources and greater productivity, while also enabling investors to achieve their social responsibility goals.

“Although industrial areas are key drivers worldwide for industrialization and economic development, only by means of well-defined performance requirements can we better plan, monitor and safeguard the sustainability of these industrial areas,” said GIZ’s Raghu Babu Nukala, a leading professional on environmentally friendly industrial production in India.

The EIP framework describes the minimum expectations for eco-industrial centers across four categories:

  • Park management performance
  • Environmental performance
  • Social performance
  • Economic performance

As a baseline, EIPs must comply with all applicable local and national regulations. They must also meet the broader minimum expectations set out within this framework.

The Director of UNIDO’s Department of Environment, Stephan Sicars, emphasized that UNIDO promotes mainstreaming of EIPs because, as is seen in countries such as Denmark, France, Japan, and the Republic of Korea, among many others. “Such parks have significant potential for unleashing inclusive and sustainable industrial development.”

EIPs have increasingly been recognized as an effective tool to overcome challenges related to inclusive and sustainable industrial development within the scope of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and Paris Agreement targets.

World Bank Group Industry Solutions Practice Manager, Jose Ernesto Lopez Cordova, said the publication represents “a clear message from the main international players on a common approach. It will now be critical to roll out the framework with the objective of making industries and industrial parks more competitive and sustainable.”

“By coming together, our three organizations aim to pave the way for creating a common vision for eco-industrial parks, which countries can use and modify according to their own needs,” said Ceyla Pazarbasioglu, Senior Director of the Bank Group’s Finance, Competitiveness and Innovation Global Practice (FCI). “We hope this common framework fills the current void in the understanding of eco-industrial parks and encourages their development on a global scale.”

“This EIP framework aims to strike a balance between meaningful and achievable performance requirements,” says Etienne Kechichian, Senior Private Sector Specialist for the World Bank Group. “The requirements need to be meaningful to make a difference in key areas, but they cannot be so high that parks with some successful initiatives can’t qualify as EIPs.”

Also contributing to the report was the Carbon Trust, a firm that works with client organizations and companies to accelerate the transition to a low-carbon economy. The partners in producing the report are committed to applying the EIP framework to projects and programs worldwide and encourage partners and stakeholders to apply the EIP requirements in their industrial park planning. By applying a common international EIP framework, the development community can move toward more inclusive and sustainable industrialization.