Transforming the Industrial Metabolism
The 2014 Gordon Research Conference on Industrial Ecology will focus on the science informing the transformation of the industrial metabolism towards sustainability. The concept of industrial metabolism refers to the exchanges between social and environmental systems which constitute the physical basis of modern societies: the use of raw materials, their conversion into manufactured capital, goods and services, and their subsequent release to the environment as wastes and emissions. Besides unquestionable contributions to human welfare, the industrial metabolism also negatively impacts the Earth's climate and ecosystems. Quantifying the industrial metabolism and assessing the potential to abate its environmental impacts through improved resource efficiency, decoupling, recycling, and eco-symbiosis have characterized industrial ecology research over the past two decades. In recent years, the research orientation has moved towards more comprehensive and scenario-based analysis, applying sophisticated analytical tools and linking the science with institutional and policy applications. Significant challenges motivate a stronger focus towards transforming the industrial metabolism. These challenges include climate mitigation, climate adaptation, raw material constraints due to rapid industrialization in large economies, shifting demand structures resulting from technology transitions, accelerated global interconnectedness of production and consumption, rapid urbanization and a prevailing inequality regarding access to the global commons. Invited speakers will present the research frontiers in addressing the complex connections between these challenges and a sustainability transformation of the industrial metabolism. Gordon Research Conferences (GRCs) are unique among scientific meetings for their prestige, quality of content, intimate setting, diversity of participants, research—often unpublished—at the frontiers of science, and a schedule designed to encourage extensive discussion and informal interactions.