The 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) of the United Nations (UN) are a call to action for countries to unite to improve lives and protect the environment, the International Geosynthetics Society (IGS) said. Its remit is bold—from tackling climate change to supporting gender equality, from responsible production to championing peace and justice worldwide.
The IGS shares the UN’s ambitious blueprint “to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all” in a number of ways. The appropriate application of geosynthetics can make significant contributions to the SDG, including preserving resources, access to clean water, emission reduction, climate change and other environmental issues.
Some of the sustainable applications made possible by geosynthetics.
Sustainable techniques ensure the reduction in energy consumption and emission via:
Reduced on-site excavation and placement
Reduced transport of bulky construction materials
The facilitation of faster and simpler construction
Extension of infrastructure design life and reduced maintenance
Contribution to the production and storage of green energy
Surface and groundwater are preserved and safeguarded from contamination via:
Landfill lining and containment of hazardous waste
Sludge dewatering and purification, and silt fence systems
Construction of sludge and tailings lagoon capping reducing mine and quarry impact
Gray water storage for use in irrigation and buildings
Preservation of potable and irrigation water supplies by lining canals, dams and reservoirs
Protection of glaciers and associated water resource preservation
Prevention of run-off contamination
Other construction materials can be replaced or reduced, such as:
Sand and aggregate
Concrete, lime and cement
Environmental protection and resilience are achievable via:
Facilitation of nuclear waste disposal
Facilitation of Sustainable Urban Drainage Systems (SUDS) surfaces
Facilitation of green and blue roof construction
Enable cost-effective construction of resilient flood defenses
Provision of rapid emergency flooding prevention in disaster zones
Coastal defense safeguarding property and natural habitats
Avalanche and rockslide prevention and protection
The 17 Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations. (Graphic courtesy of the United Nations). Economic growth and social welfare are enabled through:
Faster and more cost-effective construction
Connection of communities via more resilient infrastructure
Unequalled solutions are possible via:
Protection against contamination migration
Permitting construction over otherwise unusable ground conditions
Provision of “artificial rocks” (sand-filled geosynthetics) for erosion protection where only fine soils are available
Facilitation of the construction of steep green slopes, walls and bridge abutments
These are just some of the many ways geosynthetics contribute to the UN SDG thanks to the variety of sustainable development applications available.
Geosynthetic solutions should be fully investigated on every infrastructure project to ensure they meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.
For more on how geosynthetics are making a difference, download the IGS Sustainability eBook (PD) or visit the IGS's Sustainability page.
This article first appeared on the IGS website, www.geosyntheticssociety.org.