Academic journal article European Journal of Sustainable Development

Building Sustainable Industrial Areas: Experience and Perspectives from the Mediterranean and Western Balkan Countries

Academic journal article European Journal of Sustainable Development

Building Sustainable Industrial Areas: Experience and Perspectives from the Mediterranean and Western Balkan Countries

Article excerpt

1. Introduction

Industrial and Technology Parks play a key role in regional and urban economies, as they can be a source of economic and technological development necessary for the community. Unfortunately, they can also be dreary, unfriendly places where are generated problems such as pollution, traffic congestion and land degradation. These issues have negative effects on people working in these productive areas and citizens living nearby.

Recent Green Industry approaches - developed in the framework of the Green Economy - contribute to decoupling growth from resource use and pollution by introducing new management and production practices in enterprises and stimulating the creation of environmental technology and service providers, i.e. businesses ranging from small-scale re-cycling operations to the renewable energy technology companies.

The proponents of Eco Industrial developments retain that it is one way to implement sustainable development. Dunn and Steinmann [4] debate the different ways in which the objective of sustainable development could be reached. In economic terms waste minimization has benefits for all parties: reducing waste disposal costs on one hand, and expenditure in raw materials on the other. In environmental terms the profits are achieved in the same time by both, waste reduction and resource use. The social gains in this case are more light but life style gains may be achieved by cleaner industrial practices. Kurup et al. [7] has emphasized that the economic, social and environmental implications are needed to be considered for each stage of the synergy project life cycle (i.e. planning, design, construction, operation, maintenance and decommissioning).

All this premised, it is easily comprehensible the big attention paid, in latest years, to the Sustainable Industrial Areas (or Eco-Parks), differently conceived (and often differently named) over the whole world, as a successful example of contribution not only to decrease pollution and manage all the environmental aspects, but also to increase areas potential economic value and build up better local communities relationships.

2. Objectives of the study

This paper wants to briefly discuss the main elements of a joint Mediterranean Sustainable Industrial Area by investigating the difficulties and potentials of the establishment of these areas in the Mediterranean regions. Moreover, it also wants to give an outline of the MEID model for Sustainable Industrial Areas which has been developed in the framework of the MEID project financed by the MED program of the EU. The project involves partners from six Mediterranean and the Western Balkans countries (Italy, Greece, France, Spain, Malta and Bosnia Hercegovina) and has also created a database with the best practices of the Industrial Areas of the involved partner countries.

3. Key elements of the MEID model

The approach of the Eco-parks is generally focused on the environmental aspects of the area and company management. Nevertheless the approach to sustainability needs a systemic action that involves the other two dimensions which are the social and the economic one. Indeed, the MEID modelintends to integrate in a unique procedure all these dimensions. The economic goal can be reached by sharing plants and services counting on the economies of scale, as well as by image improvement at a company and territorial dimension with consequent enhancement of competitiveness and attractiveness of the whole area. The development of other business activities connected to the trend of green economy are other potentials that the approach to sustainability can facilitate. As far as the environmental dimension is concerned, the model introduces or encourages the continuous improvement of environmental performances of the Mediterranean industrial areas in the following fields: integrating production and dismissal of solid wastes, energy saving and use of renewable energies, reducing water consumption, better viability and avoid the deposit of dangerous material. …

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