For nearly 2 decades, the term “sustainable development” is regarded as the key word of all development planning discussions. However, many authorities involved in development plans are not adequately familiar with the concept of this term and extent of its related issues. For many people, the term “sustainable development” signifies a sort of development that is compatible with the environment. But, the environment is merely one of the subjects implied by sustainable development. In addition to the environment, sustainable development also deals with issues like poverty, health and hygiene, shelter and safety, knowledge status, social justice, and situation of society groups and economic state. Different groups in charge of development have proposed numerous and occasionally contradictory definitions for sustainable development. Nevertheless, among all suggestions, the most widely accepted definition for the respective term is the one proposed in the report entitled “Our Common Future” in 1987:
“Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”.
The first sparkles of sustainable development idea date back to 1972 when a group called “Club of Rome” published a report entitled “Limits to Growth” which triggered the alarm concerning adverse impacts of production and consumption style of capitalist world on the condition of the earth. In the same year, Stockholm Conference was held in which the preliminary steps were taken for an international agreement to conserve the environment along with economic development.
One of the most significant documents in the history of sustainable development is the report by UN-led World Commission on Environment and Development (Brundtland Commission) in 1987. The respective report published with the title “Our Common Future” indicates that our current style of production, consumption, and living might be unsustainable and can have detrimental influences on the environment, which would adversely affect the life quality of nations and generations after us. This report is the first document that renders the current definition of sustainable development in a comprehensive manner.
In 1992, gathering of United Nation member countries’ heads in Rio De Janeiro-Brazil was concluded with issuance of two highly significant documents concerning sustainable development. The first document is “Rio Declaration” which demonstrates orientation of world people’s requirements for development in the 21st century (this declaration is attached to the present article). The second achievement of the Rio Conference or Rio Summit is the 21st statement which elaborately depicts the objectives, approaches, and solutions of sustainable development in more than 300 pages. The significance lies in the fact that these two documents bear the signatures of representatives of more than 100 countries and 98% of world’s population. It can be presumed as the public demand of the people all over the universe.
Gathering of heads and representatives of UN member countries in 2002 in Johannesburg-South Africa was also a new step in the approach to sustainable development. The event was attended by more than 100 heads and over 8000 representatives from different countries and witnessed participation of a total number of 22,000 individuals. The 10-year achievements of Rio Conference were analyzed and the practical solutions for implementation of sustainable development project were codified. From Iran, a group headed by Mrs. Dr. Ebtekar (Head of Iran’s Department of Environment and Deputy of President at the time) participated in the seminar and Mrs. Dr. Ebtekar depicted the details of Iran’s achievements in this scope.
Current Status of Development and Environment
The reports issued by different national and international organizations and institutes concerning the status of the environment and vital factors of human life suggest worrying statistics. For example, the report of Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MEA) Organization is indicative of the fact that nearly 60% of the services that human receives from the environment (including potable water, fresh air, hunting and minerals or natural resources) have declined considerably during the last 50 years. This decline is such that it might make life of the humans, animals, and plants impossible in some regions or cause them to face lots of difficulties. The natural lands converted to agriculture fields during the last 30 years, whose natural environments have been lost, are larger than the whole areas converted in the 150 years before this period. Industrial planting and production, environmental contamination and also transfer of different species to non-indigenous regions have severely endangered biological diversity. Such factors push the circumstances toward an identical plant and animal environment, and accordingly, intimidate the genetic reserve of organisms on the planet.
On the other hand, poverty and shortage of living facilities create grave problems for a remarkable portion of world population. The analyses indicate that more than one billion of the world’s population have an income less than 1 US$ per day. More than 1 billion individuals in the world do not have access to healthy water and more than 2.5 billion people do not have access to suitable health and hygienic facilities. Nearly 2 billion of the planet inhabitants do not have access to electricity and disproportionality of facilities distribution between affluent and poor countries is such that mortality rate in some poor nations is 20-fold of industrial countries.
Industrial wastes and toxic substances and pollutants resulting from our production and consumption style are so enormous that in near future even all resources and the entire surface of the planet will not be sufficient to provide the necessary space for our consumption and disposal of wastes.
Organizations Working on Sustainable Development
Many of governmental, non-governmental, and international organizations are working in the scope of sustainable development, codification of its solutions and/or monitoring current status of sustainability of development of projects in the world. Instances of the international bodies are United Nations’ Commission of Sustainable Development (UNCSD) which deals with different aspects of sustainable development, and, Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MEA) which mainly handle the environmental and health issues. International Federation of Consulting Engineers (FIDIC) can be mentioned as a non-governmental international organization playing a substantial role in expansion of sustainable development. International Federation of Consulting Engineers (FIDIC) followed sustainable development project in earnest since 1990. In its annual conference in the same year, FIDIC expressed its commitment to sustainable development by presenting the policy of approach to the environment. During the following years, the policy was resumed seriously with publication of journals associated with this subject. The most important journal among them was published in 1994 entitled “FIDIC Guides: Consulting Engineers and the Environment”.
In 1998, FIDIC declared sustainable development as one of its five principal goals in the report “Engineering the Future” and then elaborated its leading strategy in this field in 2000 by publishing an article entitled “Sustainable Development and Consulting Engineers”.
For better advancement of this goal, FIDIC established a sustainable development committee in which representatives from both developed and developing countries are present. The respective committee has held numerous conferences and training programs during the years after its establishment and has also published some journals in this field. Among the journals prepared by this committee is “Project Sustainability Management – Applications Manual” which entails chapters for assessing sustainability status of projects.
In Iran also, in addition to many non-governmental organizations, a national committee of sustainable development has been established working under supervision of Department of Environment and consists of representatives from the government and also non-governmental organizations. Nonetheless, majority of the members have been selected from state ministries. Unfortunately, it seems that the committee is not remarkably active during the recent months.
A Pathway toward Sustainable Development
It is difficult to identify the factors whose presence in a project lead to enhancement of its sustainability. These factors are very abundant and comprise an extensive range of human demands and also environmental requirements. On the other hand, the factors defining project sustainability are dependent on social and economic circumstances under which the project is carried out. For instance, priority of sustainable development in an isolated rural region is provision of healthy water and hygienic facilities whereas this priority might shift to preservation of certain floral or faunal species in a developed region.
A sustainable development project shall be able to make improvement in the environment, social status, and economic conditions and also is expected to take into account the problems and issues of the groups influenced by development plan including women, youths, children, workers, and farmers. In addition, such a project must be able to define the role of local authorities, non-governmental organizations, and international collaborations such that duty, responsibility, and scope of work of each one in fulfillment project goals are clearly specified.
A sustainable development project will not be possible unless with paying attention to science and technology and building capacity for promotion of local power via distribution of knowledge and technology. Actually, capacity-building is regarded as a very substantial solution for sustainable development.
Sustainable development is a multidimensional issue which cannot be achieved without devoting attention to industry and commerce. It also requires attraction of collaboration of the project’s shareholders and exploiters as well as development of knowledge and technology.
Objectives of sustainable development and the strategies to move toward it can be categorized as below:
- Equality of Rights
Local capacity-building is deployed as the means to combat with and mitigate poverty. The prerequisite of capacity-building is improvement and development of training and employment opportunities for low-income workers and local companies.
- Equality of Men and Women
Equality in rights and work opportunities shall be established between men and women.
Hygienic principles shall be kept in mind for controlling the wastewaters. To develop or spread hygienic principles, observance of minimal standards in protection of humans, animals, plants and water resources against contact with manmade wastages must be brought under consideration.
- Potable Water
The condition of people’s access to healthy water has to be improved. For this purpose, besides codification of executive laws, directives and instructions related to water resources, the minimum standards of appropriate supply and access to healthy potable water shall be respected.
- Health-related Objectives
- Health Protection
Appropriate approach must be followed aimed at improving health of workforce. To do so, along with submission of executable laws, statutes and instructions concerning health protection, health protection services shall be provided for the employees, and while expanding the services, practical and training health programs shall be held for the target groups.
- Job Safety and Health
Alleviation of job risks and damages shall be a part of permanent strategy of workshops. For this purpose, in addition to submission of executable laws, statutes and instructions related to safety and health, the minimum standards shall be observed, including acceptance of directions proposed by International Labor Organizations of United Nations about improving condition of vocational risks and damages and also activation of programs for prevention from work hazards and damages.
- Alleviation of Injustice and Oppression from Humans
- Children’s labor
The children shall be prevented from working and the minimal age of 14-18 yeas has to be observed depending on the work conditions. Furthermore, the employers are required to observe Declaration No. 138 of International Labor Organization of United Nations with regard to children’s work.
- Improvement of Living Conditions
Living space should be improved. To provide a suitable living space, besides observing the executive laws and statutes regarding living space, the minimal standard i.e. 5 m2 for each person must be available.
- Population Changes
Life conditions have to be improved in overpopulated and inferior neighborhoods of cities. Also, the minimal standards need to be observed along with submission of executive laws, statutes and instructions with regard to living conditions, access to water and sewage system, quality of houses, and population density.
- Cultural Heritage
Cultural features must be conserved and the executive laws, statutes, and instructions regarding cultural features shall be submitted along with estimating local damages to culture, historical buildings and monuments. The cultural features shall be preserved and spread at the sites of projects or places related to the projects. Also, the procedures to determine, evaluate, and protect the cultural features shall be rendered during implementation stages and even in the exploitation phase of projects. For example, climate changes and emergence of Sivand Dam’s lake caused concerns with regard to status of historical monuments in Pasargad Region. Moisture can have effect on the respective monuments and might be followed by issues like plant growth between the stone joints. Impact of Sivand Dam water filling might be detrimental to stone monuments in the long term. Additionally, there are tens or hundreds of unidentified historical areas in the region. This ancient region requires meticulous prospection and dam water filling makes any access to the targets impossible, inflicting irreparable damages to the cultural treasures. Bolāghi Gorge is presumed as the main ancient pass of Fars Province, particularly during Achaemenids. This ancient pass is reminiscent of many memories from history of Iran. Bolāghi Gorge is a wide valley through which the river Polvar flows.
This gorge is situated between Pasargadae and Persepolis. Many itinerary writers have visited the route and its significance, especially during ancient times, has been recorded in geographical-historical texts of Fars Province. Some researchers accentuate on presence of the Royal Road in this section and their evidence is the pavements and carvings along the Bolaghi Gorge. Undoubtedly, outstanding geographical situation of this region from different aspects including proximity to Pasargadae, flow of Polvar River, easy access to Marvdasht Plain and Persepolis, and suitable vegetation as well as agriculture fields are among the most important reasons for cultural significance of the respective gorge.
- Compulsory Settlement and Displacement
To ensure justice in displacement of people, compulsory displacement of local population should be minimized and the project revenues have to be shared with local inhabitants.
- Bribery and Corruption
Corrupt activities must be strongly opposed and measures shall be taken to halt them. Besides submitting executive laws, statutes and instructions concerning corruption and bribery, the proper professional management system shall be also implemented. In this regard, professional management system guides of FIDIC can be utilized as references.
- Oceans, Seas, and Coasts
- Coastal Areas
Discharge of pollutants into seawater shall be stopped. For this purpose, attempts must be made to design and construct, and ultimately, benefit from facilities and infrastructures in a way that pollutants are not discharged into coastal waters. To monitor the process, variations of algae concentration in the proximity of coastal water sites can be measured. At present, there are also some rules and directives with regard to discharging pollutants into coastal waters. Among the solutions for prevention from contamination of coastal waters are measures taken to mitigate and eliminate discharge of pollutants from the under-construction sites in the respective areas.
An obvious instance of this type of contamination can be seen in the Persian Gulf region. Persian Gulf is one of the most contaminated marine regions of the world and its petroleum contamination is twice larger than other seas. Over 610 tons of sewage and ship wastes are released into Persian Gulf, and, environmental hazards threaten this region as 12,000 transoceanic vessels transit in Iran’s southern waters. In its latest report on environmental pollutions in Iran’s coastal regions, the World Bank declared that 1.2 million barrels of oil leak into Persian Gulf and Sea of Oman annually. The report also implied to the fact that heavy industries are the most substantial pollution causes in the environment and in fact represent the major source of diffusion of chemicals into the waters.
Based on this report, contaminating industries have also adversely affected Karoun River. In Persian Gulf, despite establishment of regional unions for reducing or controlling petroleum and other industrial pollutions, high concentration of the contamination resulting from leakage of oil into the seawater has led to ineffectiveness of the aforementioned activities in mitigation or control of contamination in the region. On the other hand, the traffic caused by transit of more than 100 oil tankers via Strait of Hormuz, oil and gas extraction operations, incidents and collisions of oil tankers, likelihood of explosion or oil and gas leakage have altogether intensified environmental pollution in the region.
- Conservation of Coastal Ecosystem
Conservation of coastal ecosystem is another solution for establishing sustainable development in the environmental scope. To reach this goal, a set of facilities and infrastructures can be designed and installed to protect the ecosystem of coasts in order to leave positive impacts on development of coastal ecosystem. To do so, some modifications might be applied on the population residing in littoral regions. The example of change in regional ecosystem is observed in Persian Gulf. Use of forbidden pesticides in country’s agriculture fields has caused entry of harmful substances into waters of Persian Gulf and Sea of Oman resulting in negative impacts on different aquatic species including fish. At the moment, the marine organisms of the region undergo the highest risk level and extensive mortalities have been recorded for the aquatic creatures during the recent years. In general, Persian Gulf and Sea of Oman are among the most diverse ecosystems of the world and installation of numerous oil, gas, and petrochemical complexes in the vicinity of these regions is regarded a big environmental challenge. Furthermore, in spite of abundant evidences for contaminations caused by the respective industries, large-scale propagandas claim greenness of their activities. These propagandas are specifically orchestrated by the corresponding state-run companies. One of the contaminating agents of the environment in the region is oil transport via oil tankers which is accompanied with severe contamination. For instance, during Iran-Iraq war, around 400,000 barrels of oil spilled onto the sea owing to an incident of an oil tanker called “Sanandaj Ship”.
Moreover, the water ballast carried by the respective ships in turn contain contaminating oily substances as well as microorganisms unknown to the environment; these substances are discharged into the sea before loading and induce intense harms, including water contamination and loss of indigenous creatures and aquatics. This condition results in accumulation of oil pollutions as Persian Gulf is a semi-confined environment, which will give rise to a huge catastrophe in the long term leading to demise of the whole existing ecosystem.
- Amount of Water
Type and amount of fresh water consumption is also among the significant environmental issues and establishment of sustainable development in the process of fresh water production and consumption is one of the most crucial tasks. To achieve such a development, it is essential to design and construct the principal facilities and infrastructures for optimal utilization of fresh water considering the available volume of fresh water supply. One of the acceptable solutions is to measure consumption amount of fresh water during project execution in all work stages. Other effective solutions may include control of fresh water consumption level with the help of consumption cost effects. In this regard, special systems can be provided with the aid of novel technologies for reducing consumption of fresh water or enabling access to more fresh water supplies.
- Water Quality
Maintaining water quality is also one of human’s goals on the way to attain sustainable development. Among the necessities for reaching this target is to design and construct facilities that do not cause impairment of water quality, and for example, do not use water oxygen content above the permissible limits cialis daily. This can be guaranteed by measuring consumption amount of oxygen in all stages of project completion. Currently, there are some laws and statutes for prevention from impairment of water quality. For example, ascending trend of constructions around Jajroud River had caused concerns regarding one of the most vital Tehran City’s potable water sources. This problem was resolved by ratification of the government which prohibited any construction around the respective river. Overall, the status of rivers needs to be controlled in terms of pollution, constructions on the banks, and population foci of watershed basin and their distances and territories.
For reaching to a sustainable development, conservation of ecosystem and biological cycle is particularly important. Certain facilities shall be provided for this purpose to diversify the biological species, and/or, at least acceptably preserve the existing species. In this respect, the ecosystem in the area of the project has to be identified. There exist currently some laws and statutes concerning preservation of different biological species.
Here, the current status in Caspian Sea is concisely analyzed in order to get a more tangible insight into the aforementioned items and also to make a more accurate judgment about the measures taken in Iran with the intention of protecting the environment. Mazandaran (Caspian) Sea is the greatest lake of the world and is referred to as “sea” because of its very large area. The depth of this sea increases from north to south. The depth is averagely less than 10 meters in the northern section and around 1000 meters in the southern part. Caspian Sea is a closed water body and has no major outlet except for evaporation. In such confined marine environments, control of pollution is by far more critical than the water resources which have outlets other than evaporation.
This sea is the habitat of the most expensive fish of the world. 78 fish species are found in the southern section of Caspian Sea and the rivers that pour into it; i.e. the coasts belonging to Iran. Caspian Sea is one of the most unique marine ecosystems of the world which serves as an appropriate environment for living and growth of the most premium caviar fish of the globe. The conducted studies suggest that factors such as wastes pouring into the Caspian Sea via the rivers flowing from continent are among the major contamination causes of the respective sea and reduction of fish.
Excessive fishing, uncontrolled growth of fishing net spreading technique after Revolution of 1979, destruction of swamps in the region, destruction of natural environment of the rivers as the fish breeding place due to execution of projects without environmental assessment and also the pollutants coming from land to the sea can be enlisted as the destructive agents of the ecosystem in the region under debate.
According to the measurements, water quality of coastal regions varies from unclean to extremely polluted. The following results were detected in 23 regions where measurements were performed: 7 regions were unclean, 4 regions were unclean to polluted, 10 regions were polluted, one region was highly polluted, and one region was highly to extremely polluted.
21 marine incidents occurred in 1991 in Caspian Sea resulting in spillover of 3.9 million tons of oil into the sea. Based on the measurements in the delta of Volga River, 35.23 tons of organic matters, 48 tons of ammonium, and 18 tons of nitrogen nitrate enter the sea as a result of agricultural and fishery activities.
Among Iran’s coastal regions, only one measurement was made in Region 23 or Turkmen Bay and the water quality was classified as unclean to polluted. It must be reminded that the measurements were carried out 13 years ago. As no suitable and legal controlling and protective measures have been taken or pursued during the last 13 years, it can be expected that the current pollution status of this sea and its coasts is graver than before.
In climatic-geographic-floral divisions, Iran’s northern coasts are classified as a part of Europe-Siberia region and consist of Hyrcania vegetation bioregion. The vegetation in this region is dense, especially in the central part. The plants of the region are part of temperate vegetation of late Tertiary era and among the most valuable natural broad-leaved forest areas of the world and a treasure of flora. In the southern coasts of Caspian Sea, the areas designated as “forest reserve”, “forest park”, and “natural or artificial forest parks” are under supervision of Iran’s Forests, Range and Watershed Management Organization. The protected areas under administration of Forests, Range, and Watershed Management Organization suffer from poor control. The respective protected areas, also referred to as “forest reserves”, have been severely devastated during the last 10 years.
In 1996, Plan and Budget Organization of Iran prepared reports for the regional plan of Gilan and Mazandaran provinces and the second and third chapters of this report series belonged to environmental studies including assessment of the environmental potential for various developments. But the respective plan is not comprehensive enough to properly manage the coastal region because it solely focuses on the coastal areas and neglects the forests as an integrated region consisting of water and land. Nonetheless, the same report indicates that 17 Iranian cities along the coasts of Caspian Sea have the problem of settlement location. Garbage collection and wastewater control problems exist in most of the cities.
Another bottleneck in majority of the cities in the region is their future development. In most cases, such urban developments will sacrifice the agricultural fields and gardens. This issue has led to a conflict between industrial-urban development plans and rural development with agricultural land use as one of the most essential economic factors of the region.
- Climate Changes
Detrimental greenhouse gases are recognized as one of the most significant causes of atmospheric changes. Such climate changes can be avoided by reducing emission of greenhouse gases mainly originating from the gases released by factories and vehicles.
- Destruction of Ozone Layer
Destruction of ozone layer can be drastically mitigated through reducing the consumption of different chemical sprays which contain harmful gases or via their substitution by harmless alternatives.
- Air Quality
In addition to emission of greenhouse gases, factories and vehicles cause diffusion of other contaminants such as lead and NOx in the air. The detrimental environmental effects can be minimized by reducing and controlling the released gases.
- Air Quality of Internal Spaces
With exceeding application of different sprays, the air in the internal spaces gets gradually polluted as well. As mentioned earlier, such pollutions can be prevented by reducing consumption of or substituting this kind of sprays and even by applying needed changes in the environmental rules and regulations.
- A- Conservation of Agriculture Fields
Proper conservation and augmentation of agriculture lands coupled with legal support in prohibiting alteration of agricultural land uses might lead to further protection of this type of lands.
- B- Reduced Consumption of Chemical Fertilizers
Excessive use of chemical fertilizers will leave destructive impacts on the soil in the long term. Therefore, destruction of agriculture fields can be avoided via reducing consumption of such fertilizers and/or application of novel farming methods.
- C-Reduced Consumption of Pesticides
Via reducing use of chemical pesticides and further application of biochemical alternatives, the detrimental effects on the land and animal cycle can be mitigated.
- Protection of Forestlands
Planning for creation of artificial forests and reduction of forest destruction will indeed contribute to conservation of forests. It is worth mentioning that various deforesting factors exist in Iran, including: animal grazing in the forests that cause destruction of young shrubs, use of forest wood as fuel by the natives, conversion of forestlands into agriculture fields or industrial or recreational land uses, excessive water extraction from underground resources in forested regions of Zagros, and also timber smuggling. Averagely, 340 hectares of forests are ruined every day in Iran and approximately 22% of country’s forests in different regions have vanished during the last 30 years. Surface area of Iran’s forests has decreased for millions of hectares. During the recent years, forest conservation plans have been carried out in order to mitigate deforestation. The instances include: purchasing local livestock, conversion of low-efficiency pasture and farms into forest, use of alternative fuel for natives, and centralization of indigenous forest families.
- Sustainable Management of Forests
Excessive exploitation and devastation of forests can be transformed into a controlled process that will not cause damage to the forests in the long term. It is possible via development of artificial forests and management of wood exploitation, enacting new laws, and also application of substituent materials.
It is interesting to note that surface area of forests in China has increased from 14% to 16.5% between 1998 and 2002 and reached 20% in 2010. Via development of artificial forests and management of wood exploitation from forests enacting new laws, and also application of substituent materials, excessive exploitation and devastation of forests can be transformed into a controlled process that will not cause damage to the forests in the long term. It is worth mentioning that surface area of forests in China increased from 14% to 16.5% between 1998 and 2002 and reached 20% in 2010.
Destruction of vegetation including forests would result in intensified desertification. This phenomenon can be controlled via mitigating destruction of different types of vegetation, modifications in the relevant laws, and orientating industrial and agricultural projects toward restraining the deserts or prevention from expansion of deserts.
As an instance, desertification annually imparts a loss equivalent to 54 billion Yuan to China’s economy, and, one third of farms in this country are threatened by desertification risk.
D-Mitigation of Soil Erosion
Soil erosion signifies separation and displacement of soil particles. The significant factors in soil erosion include: vegetation destruction, ground slope, dry soil surface, non-standard road building, and planting crops such as corn and potato in inclined terrains. Soil erosion each year inflicts a loss of 20,000 billion Rials to Iran; the major associated damages are land destruction, emergence of floods, accumulation of mud in fields and behind the dams. It is possible to prevent and alleviate soil erosion through performing superficial and deep ploughs, selection of suitable type of agricultural crops, maintaining the high level of soil fertility, enhancement of water infiltration rate, and construction of erosion-controlling walls.
During the recent years, 230 million m3 of the volume of Iran’s dams have diminished due to deposition of sediments caused by soil erosion; 43% of soil erosion in Iran occurs owing to deforestation. Based on global average value, soil erosion ranges from 2 to 5.1 tons per hectares per year whereas this figure reaches 18 tons per hectare in Qazvin Province of Iran, out of which 8 tons are deposited behind the dams and the rest in the fields and rangelands. This rate of soil destruction in Iran is deeply worrying.
Soil erosion in China equals 5 billion tons per year signifying loss of 40 million tons of chemical fertilizers (equivalent to one year of fertilizer production in the same country).
A-Development of Local Economy
Development of local economy and implementation of projects in which flourishing of native economy is taken into account will aid economic development of the whole society.
B-Reducing Excessive Consumption of Raw Materials
Via consumption of naturally recyclable raw materials and also reducing use of non-recyclable substances such as plastic and so on, deficiency of raw material resources can be compensated.
C-Reducing Excessive Energy Consumption
Deploying suitable solutions in reducing consumption of reversible energies and utilization of new energies can help prevention from decline of energy resources, especially fossil fuels. It can also prevent from augmentation of air pollution. Since more than 50% of energy in Iran is consumed in domestic sector, large deal of energy can be served by devoting attention to reduction of energy consumption in houses via deployment of proper isolation plans, production of household devices with high efficiency, and culture-building.
- Waste Production and Waste Management
- Reduction in production of urban and industrial wastes
The amount of industrial and urban wastes can be lowered by enacting laws aimed at reducing the production of such wastes and also by changing the production and consumption model.
- Industrial and urban wastes
A consequence of reducing waste production in the cities and industries at the first step is decrease of lands required for waste disposal. In addition, the amount of wastes that shall be buried properly can be also remarkably reduced by performing recycling programs and/or by converting some of the wastes into energy. This approach is a great help to burial of wastes and alleviates destruction of lands and underground water resources.
- Reduction in waste production
Production of toxic wastes can be decreased via modification of industrial processes and proper replacement of consumed raw materials in industries. It is obvious that toxic wastes, even in small amounts, might cause irreparable damages to the environment. It is worth noting that production of toxic wastes and wastewaters is not limited to industries and excessive use of detergents containing harmful chemicals can also result in destruction of plant tissues and contamination of underground water resources. Hospital wastes are not an exception to this rule.
- Incineration and Treatment of Industrial Wastes and Wastewaters
Such wastes and wastewaters can be effectively restrained leading to prevention from serious destruction of the environment by using new technologies in treatment of wastewaters, waste recycling, and conversion of industrial waste and wastewater into energy.
H- Development of Waste Recycling Centers
Through establishing and developing waste recycling centers, a considerable amount of recyclable materials can be saved besides mitigating detrimental environmental effects and also conversion of wastes into useful substances. These procedures all contribute to an improvement in the life span of natural resources of the raw materials. Since energy is available in Iran abundantly and at low price, the plans of converting waste materials into energy do not seem cost-effective in the first look, but such projects have good economic justification and can turn profitable in the long term with a more profound attitude toward the environment and great value of natural resources like water, soil, and air. For example, the problems associated with waste disposal and burial in some regions of Iran where the lands and the environment are of considerable value (like north of country) can serve as a proof for this assertion.
- Tangible Instance of Unsustainable Development
Development of Tehran City during the last two decades is an obvious and tangible instance of unsustainable development. Although many highways, bridges, parks, and culture houses have been built during the development process of Tehran city and renovation of old buildings has given a new image to the city spurring a boom in the housing sector and the associated activities in addition to enabling accommodation of larger number of citizens, this development today exposes its unsustainability in the deepest possible way.
The effects resulting from Tehran City development without compatibility to its biologic conditions and also without paying attention to its social, economic, and environmental consequences can be summarized in the following categories:
- Air and water pollution
- Sound and visual pollution
- Destruction of cultural heritage
- Destruction of environment ecosystem (streams, soil layers, etc.)
- Destruction of animals’ life cycles and omission of faunal diversity in the environment
- Incompatibility of the environment with the earthquake and flood risks
- Overpopulation and problems of housing, potable water, and urban facilities
- Disruption of social order, and hence, rise in crime, offence, and unemployment
- Increased traffic jam
- Problems associated with recycling the wastesRole and Position of Consulting Engineering Companies in Sustainable Energy
With regard to significance and necessity of sustainable development in all activity scopes as mentioned earlier and keeping in mind that consulting engineering companies are regarded as the agents in charge of studying, designing and supervising on execution of most large-scale projects which affect the environment, it can be inferred that consulting engineers are among the fundamental elements and very influential factors in progress of sustainable development.
It must be however noted that consulting engineering companies are the necessary, but not the sufficient, condition in progress and accomplishment of sustainable development. They will not by themselves hold the warranty and executive power to accomplish the tasks in connection with sustainable development. Operators or investors - and governments in particular– as the owners and suppliers of executive costs of projects and contractors as the executive arms of the projects will be complementary players in progress of sustainable development of projects.
It is vitally necessary to found the basis of strategy of consulting engineering companies in alignment with sustainable development, which will affect establishment and success of sustainable projects. In simpler words, the consulting engineering companies shall primarily step toward sustainable development so as to influence enhancement of sustainability of projects.
For this purpose, the fundamental principles and basis of consulting engineering companies shall include expansion of sustainable development policies in their strategies, attention to significance and necessity of observing sustainable development principles, establishing and pursuing targeted training and instruction of employees, technical reinforcement and development and acquisition of high-level and progressive standards based on sustainable development, and ultimately, establishment and pursuance of sustainable projects aimed at proper construction and exploitation.
Consulting engineering companies intend to leave a positive effect on sustainable developments. Their role and level of influence on progress of sustainable development can be easily distinguished and depicted with a little attention to evolution trend of projects from the very beginning of basic studies up to the exploitation phase (including: preliminary studies, basic engineering, elaborate engineering, preparations, execution management, and construction and commissioning operations). It shall be mentioned that roles, effects, and duties of operators and investors and contractors are in turn remarkable and undeniably significant.
Taking into account different phases of project completion, the main tasks and issues associated with consulting engineering companies can be categorized as below:
- The preliminary studies will be highly crucial in assessment of environmental impacts of project on faunal-floral ecology as well as social, economic, cultural, and political situation of the region. Such studies are also vital for assessing the role of project in promotion of sustainable development and observance of the respective principles. The reason is the fact that the extreme effects of the project are identified in this stage and special processes are devised to deal with them. In this stage, via identification and definition of sustainable development aspects and the risks and consequences resulting from the project activities and also prioritizing the issues based on their significance, the problems are assessed and planning is made for reduction or elimination of the probable risks. Instructions are codified and the plans are monitored to verify their proper execution. Accordingly, extreme risks and impacts of projects on the environment will be constantly controlled and monitored.
- Determination of sustainable development standards for designing
- Designing based on executive rules, statutes, and instructions related to sustainable development
- Supervision and control over prepared documents
- Assurance about eligibility of contractors and their observance of sustainable development standards
- Assurance about eligibility of commodity and material manufacturers and their observance of sustainable development standards
- Emphasis on necessity of using recoverable or recyclable materials
- Supervision and control over the activities and prepared documents
- Submission of standards and executable laws aimed at proper transportation and deployment of tools and materials affecting the environment, in accordance with local and international rules and regulations
- Emphasis on the principle of prevention from environment destruction and observance of sustainable development principles
- Monitoring activities and collection of reports regarding sustainable development
- Proposing appropriate solutions and assurance about implementation of sustainable development principles in the project
- Submission of sustainable development instructions to the contractors as the main work framework
- Monitoring activities of contractors via supervision and control of sustainable development principles
- Assurance about proper exploitation, conservation, and maintenance of the project in alignment with sustainable development
It is hoped that we - as a group of representatives of Iranian consulting engineering companies – take the needed steps effectively toward attainment of sustainable development with the intention of securing health and facilitating life for humans by comprehending the significance and necessity of obeying and deploying the principles of sustainable development and also by making attempts to apply the respective principles in execution of projects.