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The world is becoming more and more populous, and with that comes growing pressure on the environment and our natural resources. In an effort to reduce the impact that expanding urbanization has on the environment, the United Nations Development Program has set a list of targets that encompass 17 Sustainability Development Goals (SDGs), which aims to be attained by 2030.

What are the UN Sustainability Development Goals (SDGs)?

The UN Sustainability Development Goals encompass a broad range of issues, including: poverty; hunger; health; education; gender equality; clean water and sanitation; clean energy; employment and economic growth; industry, innovation and infrastructure; reduced inequality; sustainable cities and communities; responsible consumption and production; climate action; life below water; life on land; peace, justice and strong institutions; and finally, developing partnerships to fulfill these goals in order to transform the world into a more sustainable place to live.

If we have any hope of achieving these goals, it is imperative that the SDGs are translated into action at a global scale and involving private sectors including companies and institutions doing their bit at a local scale to improve sustainability. In light of global climate change impacts and accelerated coastal development worldwide, one of the key areas where this can be achieved is through sustainable development that incorporates environmental design and green construction into urban planning and development. With climate change impacts becoming more apparent and devastating around the world, it is also crucial to include climate change mitigation and adaptation strategies into urban planning, coastal development schemes, and marine spatial planning programs. This should not be limited to development on land, but should also protect life below water (Goal 14), which is often neglected, as the impacts are much less visible.

Eco-engineering a Blue-Green Future

There are many innovative companies out there that are taking the bull by the horns and are making a concerted effort to develop sustainable business strategies and products that positively contribute to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s). ECOncrete® is a young science-based company advancing not just one, but nearly half, of the UN SDGs. The company provides bio-enhancing concrete solutions that enhance marine life and help reduce the ecological footprint of coastal and marine development projects, protecting and rejuvenating coastlines, while sustaining and enhancing marine biodiversity. The bio-enhanced concrete has a unique combination of innovative admix, rough surface textures, and 3D designs that encourage and support colonization of rich and diverse marine plants and animals, enhancing biodiversity rather than reducing it. Not only is bio-enhanced concrete strong enough to withstand harsh marine environments, the enhanced marine growth on ECOncrete® actually increases the strength, and durability of the structure in a cost-effective, low-carbon solution, reducing the carbon footprint of ports, marinas and other coastal development projects, while making them more resilient and adaptive to Climate Change . Click Here to learn more about Carbone footprint.

Environmentally sensitive technologies

ECOncrete® ‘s environmentally sensitive technologies address nearly half of the UN Sustainable Development Goals, by sustaining marine resources, enhancing biodiversity, contributing to cleaner environments, and reducing carbon emission. In the conservative coastal construction industry which is still largely male dominated, ECOncrete® ‘s innovative technology and management team led by a woman promote SDG 9 (industry, innovation and infrastructure), while highlighting the role of dominate women-led companies in the industry, promoting SDG 5 of gender equality.

The company’s bio-enhancing products, which are rich in recycled materials and byproducts, used in urban and coastal development projects address SDG 11 (sustainable cities), SDG 12 (responsible consumption and production), while also improving marine biodiversity that provides ecosystem services (SDG 14 — life below water) and offer unique urban-marine environmental education opportunities (SDG 4 – education).

The bio-enhancing admix includes a significant amount of slag cement and supplementary cementitious materials consisting of that are primarily calcitic, which reduces their carbon footprint by up to 86% compared to conventional Portland cement based concrete products promoting SDG 13 (climate change) from a mitigation perspective. In addition, when applied in the construction of coastal defense projects, such as breakwaters or seawalls primarily aiming at climate adaptation, ECOncrete® amplifies the performance of the concrete elements by harnessing natural processes like bio-calcification, further increasing the resilience and adaptivity of the structures that literally grow with time helping cope with sea level rise and increased storminess Finally, the company is actively forming global partnerships with ports and other key players in the maritime industry, helping raise awareness and promote SDGs  in urban and coastal development projects across the globe.

ECOncrete® brings blue-green innovation to the highly conservative concrete and construction industries, and helps increase resiliency and adaptivity, changing the way our future coastlines look and function. In recognition of these contributions, ECOncrete®’s co-founder and CEO, Dr. Shimrit Perkol-Finkel, has been selected as an awardee in the WE Empower UN SDG Challenge, the first global business competition for women entrepreneurs who are advancing the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Shimrit represents UN region Western Europe and other, including North America.  Read more: Forbes

Living Breakwaters – Rebuild by design

In the United States there are already large-scale projects which take place in order to deliver the promise of restoring the environment and protecting the shore from the damaging waves and storms while improving cities’ safety and sustainability (Goal 11: Sustainable cities and communities). A perfect example is the “living breakwaters” project.  The project was conceived in order to create offshore breakwaters that will reduce risk, revive ecologies and connect residents to Staten Island’s shoreline. You can find more about the Living breakwaters project, which is also known by the name: “Rebuild by design” in the video series: “Sinking cities” Click here to watch (Living breakwaters on min 40:10 – 42:30)

In Search of a Sustainable Future

Ultimately, if we have any hope of our planet’s resources sustaining the growing mass of humanity, we need to think outside the box and come up with creative solutions that work in harmony with nature to solve the many pressing issues we are currently facing. The hardest question is: do we really have a chance of accomplishing the SDG’s by 2030?

In a fascinating TED talk, Johan Rockström, a global sustainability scientist and expert, debuts a new methodology that combines the UN Sustainable Development Goals with the nine planetary boundaries, beyond which earth’s vital systems could become unstable.  As Johan argues, we can build a safe operating space on earth, if we’ll think beyond 12 years from now. If we really want to seriously accomplish the SDG’s – we need to go into a transformative, disruptive future. The Modeling Johan talks about, emphasize 5 transformations, “Cut emissions by half every decade”, among other. With a radically different thinking, we can transform a real change towards a safe operating space on earth.  Discover more about the 5 transformational policies for a prosperous, in his TED talk.

We believe, that only through concrete immediate action, with the private sector taking a leading role by integrating the SDGs into their business models like ECOncrete® has done, the UN Sustainable Development Goals, as ambitious as they seem, may actually be achievable by 2030.

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