IFAT Industry Insights

The role of environmental technologies in the implementation of the SDGs

Many environmental technologies on show at IFAT directly or indirectly contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations. What impact do the goals have around the globe? An article by Joachim Schlange, Managing Partner of the management consultancy Schlange & Co., which specializes in sustainability.

The use of environmental technologies plays a decisive role in the implementation of the SDGs. Several SDGs specifically require the use of water, sewage, waste and raw materials management technologies: SDG 6 "Clean Water and Sanitation" for example calls for an improvement in wastewater treatment and an expansion of the drinking water supply.

SDG 11 "Sustainable Cities and Communities" specifically calls for the reduction of the negative environmental impacts of cities, for example by expanding waste treatment; and SDG 12 “Responsible Consumption and Production" addresses the reduction of waste, for example through recycling. The technologies also indirectly help to achieve other SDGs, for example SDG 3 “Good Health and Wellbeing" or SDG 14 “Life Below Water".

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Study: high technological needs around the globe

The current implementation status of the SDGs and the needs for environmental technologies have been analyzed for 34 emerging and developing countries by the consultancy Schlange & Co. in the study "Environmental Technology and the SDGs". For most of the countries considered, the demand for technologies from the water, wastewater and waste management sectors is high.

In the field of waste management, major challenges are often related to waste collection, especially in rural areas. Also widespread: waste disposal in simple landfills, which pollute water and soil. Regarding water management, the study has shown that in Southeast Europe outdated water pipes and a lack of wastewater treatment impair access to clean drinking water, while in many Asian countries the drinking water supply is under pressure, particularly due to population growth. Additionally, changing weather conditions influence the water supply in many of the countries under consideration.

Different challenges depending on world regions

In the "Global Survey on Sustainability and the SDGs”, Schlange & Co. and Yale University have investigated the satisfaction with the progress made with regard to the SDGs after the first four years as well as the environmental, social and economic challenges that exist in the respective countries and sectors. The survey reached more than 26,000 private individuals as well as representatives from politics, business, science and education, the media and civil society from 174 countries.

The results show that SDG 6 "Clean Water and Sanitation" is one of the most important SDGs in Africa, Asia and Latin America but also in North America. In East and Southeast Asia, this also applies to SDG 11 "Sustainable Cities and Communities", while in Europe SDG 12 “Responsible Consumption and Production" is considered particularly relevant.

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About the author

Joachim Schlange is co-founder and speaker of the management board of the management consultancy Schlange & Co., which specializes in sustainability.

www.schlange-co.com

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