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Eco-industrial development (EID) is a framework for industry to develop while reducing its impact on the environment. It uses a closed loop production cycle to tackle a broad set of environmental challenges such as soil and water pollution, desertification, species preservation, energy management, by-product synergy, resource efficiency, air quality, etc.
Mutually beneficial connections among industry, natural systems, energy, material and local communities become central factors in designing industrial production processes.
The approach itself is largely voluntary and market-driven but often pressed ahead by favorable government treatment or efforts of development co-operation.
Since the early 1990s the idea of EID evolved from biological symbiosis. This concept was adapted by industrial ecologists in the search for innovative approaches to solve problems of waste, energy shortage and degradation of the environment. A continuous approach towards improving both environmental and economic outcomes is used.
In 1992, the international community officially connected development co-operation to sustainable environmental protection for the first time. At the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil nearly 180 states signed the conference’s Rio Declaration. Although non-binding, the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development laid out 27 principles that shall guide the increasing inter-connectedness of development cooperation and sustainability. Moreover, the documents drafting was accompanied by a presentation describing the idea of eco-industrial development for the first time.
In the following years, EID became popular throughout the United States. The recently elected Clinton administration installed a summit of business, labor, government and environmental protection representatives to further develop the approach. This summit established the idea of eco-industrial parks but soon realized that at first a more efficient management of raw materials, energy and waste has to be achieved.
Since then, the broad goals and application principles of EID have hardly changed and only became adapted to the rapid technological progress.
In 2012 the IGEP Foundation, for the promotion of trade, published a report called Pathway to Eco Industrial Development in India – Concepts and Cases.
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