The 2017 National Sustainability Summit was held on the 31st January, hosted in the Citywest Hotel alongside the National Manufacturing and Supply Chain Conference and Exhibition. Academics, business representatives and governmental delegates gathered to hear from speakers coming from construction, pharmaceutical, food, IT, waste, energy sectors, universities, governmental agencies and NGOs. The conference was organised around the exhibition and three main stages: Manufacturing, Lean and Sustainability; as well as 10 thematic seminars, covering among others:
– environmental law,
– carbon reduction and emissions,
– waste and water treatment and management,
– sustainable supply chain,
– sustainable cities, energy and construction.
The event was busy and vibrant, with people networking and meandering their ways to the exhibition stands or a seminar session.
Here are some of the takeaways from the Sustainability Summit, organised as a vocabulary of concepts and trends that popped in several sessions and that were key to the sustainability discourse of the event.
Carbon sequestration is a process by which carbon dioxide (CO2) is removed from the atmosphere and stored in the ocean, terrestrial environment and geologic formations. Carbon can be removed from the atmosphere either naturally – i.e. through plant uptake, or through a deliberate process. Carbon sequestration alongside renewable energy are most instrumental in mitigating climate change impacts, and it also presents some opportunities, such as producing carbon sink concrete and developing cost effective carbon sequestration technology. According to the International Energy Agency, currently global carbon capture and storage infrastructure around the world only removes around 0,1% of the world’s annual CO2 emissions.
Internet of things – the interconnection via internet between objects of everyday use, which enables them to communicate and supply data for further analysis. Internet of things is inherent to the vision of smart cities and smart buildings, both of which are aiming at improved efficiency in managing buildings and cities for administrators and improved quality of life for building occupants.
Pollinator- friendly habitats are natural or man-made habitats, that are safe, diverse and abundant environments for life activities of pollinators, including foraging and reproduction. Pollinators’ habitats can be endangered by the use of pesticides and insecticides. As most pollinators prefer of even depend on native plants, invasive species and exotic plants degrade the quality of pollinator habitat. With agriculture being one of the leading industries in Ireland’s economy, both biodiversity and economic value of pollinators is very high. According to the All-Ireland Pollinator Plan 2015 -2020, the value of pollinators for human food crops in the Republic of Ireland is at least €53 million per year. Notwithstanding a common misconception that bees belong to the countryside, cities can do a lot to add and maintain pollinator-friendly spaces, as for example green roofs and flower beds planted with native species of grasses, perennials, shrubs and trees, as well as use pesticide free materials.
Reuse is a resource efficient waste management practice, it can vary in form from on-site reuse, donations to charities and second-hand shops, upcycling and re purposing of discarded objects or materials to refurbishing of buildings and places. Reuse is a part of industrial symbiosis and circular economy. Industrial symbiosis describes processes where the by-products or waste from a manufacturing facility are fed into production lines of another facility. Larger concept of circular economy divides material flows into biological and technical nutrients that are managed separately in closed-loop cycles with virtually zero waste. As both Community Reuse Network Ireland and Green Alliance suggest, reuse and recycling also have a high socio-economic value as they create larger number of jobs as compared to operation of landfills, as well as provide resources to communities that might not otherwise have access to them.
Stranded assets are assets that are prematurely devalued due to their incompatibility with market or regulatory trends, because of reliance on technology that is being phased out as part of creative destruction or because of other embedded environmental and geo-political risks. According to a survey conducted recently by Ernst and Young, investors are increasingly interested in non-financial data for investment analysis, especially the data relating to environmental, social and governance risks. ESG reporting helps to understand if an asset is future-proof, or environmentally risky and bears potential social impacts, and therefore at some point of their assumed (projected) economic life will no longer be able to earn economic returns. Example: fossil fuel sector, which is at risk of becoming stranded due to shortage of resources, renewable energy use and climate change concerns.
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