Author(s): Eissen M, Metzger JO, Schmidt E, Schneidewind U
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Abstract The principles of the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), held in June 1992 in Rio de Janeiro, and Agenda 21, the comprehensive plan of action for the 21st century, adopted 10 years ago by more than 170 governments, address the pressing problems of today and also aim at preparing the world for the challenges of this century. The conservation and management of resources for development are the main focus of interest, to which the sciences will have to make a considerable contribution. Natural, economic, and social sciences will have to be integrated in order to achieve this aim. In their future programs, the associations of the chemical industries in Europe, Japan, and the USA have explicitly accepted their obligation to foster a sustainable development. In this review we investigate innovations in chemistry exemplarily for such a development with regard to their ecological, economical, and social dimensions from an integrated and interdisciplinary perspective. Since base chemicals are produced in large quantities and important product lines are synthesized from them, their resource-saving production is especially important for a sustainable development. This concept has been shown, amongst others, by the example of the syntheses of propylene oxide and adipic acid. In the long run, renewable resources that are catalytically processed could replace fossil raw materials. Separation methods existing today must be improved considerably to lower material and energy consumption. Chemistry might become the pioneer of an innovative energy technique. The design of chemical products should make possible a sustainable processing and recycling and should prevent their bio-accumulation. Methods and criteria to assess their contribution to a sustainable development are necessary. The time taken to introduce the new more sustainable processes and products has to be diminished by linking their development with operational innovation management and with efficient environmental-political control procedures.
This article was published in Angew Chem Int Ed Engl
and referenced in Fisheries and Aquaculture Journal