How Can the Global South Contribute to IE?

Table of Contents:

Industrial ecology concepts and tools have developed primarily in the developed world. However, owing to their low energy and material consumption patterns, developing countries can provide unexamined contexts for the developed world to learn from. Some of these contexts where the IE lens has provided valuable insights are (1) informal recycling by the unorganized sector in several developing countries (Medina 1997; Wilson et al. 2006); (2) provisioning of fresh vegetables and fruits on a regular basis to reduce food wastage due to inefficient management of household food inventories (Sahakian in press); and (3) water balance of cities in India (Eckelman et al. 2010).

In some cases, historic management of resources in developing countries has been postulated as more sustainable than the way resources are currently managed around the world; examples are flood management along the Brahmaputra in West Bengal (Rasid and Paul 1987) and community-based construction and maintenance of water tanks in the pre-British era in various regions in India (Mosse 1997). IE can offer qualitative and quantitative measures to understand and monitor such initiatives.


Some developing countries have realized the benefits of IE approaches and have used its concepts for sustainable growth of communities; others are yet to realize the value of this approach. The benefits of IE for developing countries include strategy elaboration and policy framing for sustainable development. Developing countries need to re-examine their development strategies and make important decisions to improve social welfare and build healthy economies, while protecting their ecological heritage. Redefining a country's development pathway is a complex process that needs an interdisciplinary examination of cultural values, ecological heritage, resource use patterns and demographics. Due to its emphasis on a holistic approach, industrial ecology can provide a valuable platform to draw out this redefinition in ways that can be implemented.


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