It was often assumed that remediation is always a beneficial activity regardless of how it is undertaken, however now remediation activities are being considered in a more holistic way, considering their contribution to sustainable development goals, approaches to remediation are changing.
Sustainable development was defined by the United Nations World Commission on Environment and Development (the ‘Brundtland Report’) as “development that meets the needs of the present generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”. This is commonly interpreted as meaning those actions which, having regard to social, environmental and economic factors, and to short and long-term issues, maximise the overall benefit.
The three components of sustainability – society, environment, economy (or people, planet, profit) should be used by the remediation industry when developing strategies and to select remedial techniques that directly contribute to achieving sustainable development.
This is increasingly important as corporate and government policies require demonstration that sustainability is being considered. The wider impacts of remediation projects related to climate change, resource management, water use and soil functionality are all being increasingly considered, along with wider social and economic benefits.