Unpleasant odours, contaminated air and harmful sanitary conditions are characteristic of an environmentally unfriendly industry. Today, how does industrial architecture reflect concerns for the sustainability of natural resources?

26. The first factory for metal working instruments in Bulgaria during the socialist period. Ca. 1950-5. Interactive Museum of Industry, Gabrovo, Bulgaria.


Industrial settlements, by its pattern of concentrated land occupation, established high density zones of environmental pollution in the city.
How will the territory be organised in the industrial cities of the future?

27. Recycling station in a textile factory. Period of State Socialism, 1944-1989. Interactive Museum of Industry, Gabrovo, Bulgaria.

The Industrial Revolution and its global growth has shaken the delicate global balance of our planet and the cohabitation of human life with all other life-forms. Sustainability is, therefore, a preoccupation that encompasses all human activities and which should be considered in policies and practices at all levels. We are, there- fore, avoiding the notion of sustainability in industry which focuses on the economic growth of a company, a sector, or a country, so as to focus on a different and more overarching one: the sustainability of the planet and its legal protection, which shall influence the future of industrial activity.

Sustainability is impacted by the systemic industrialization of the planet, regardless of national borders and policies. In fact, production chains exemplify that nowadays industry goes beyond specific factories and companies, they are networked systems (which can be international): a product may be designed, produced, assembled and distributed in different countries, relying on transport and distribution. If extraction industries, such as mining, have a clear impact on industrial landscapes by transforming natural resources into industrial raw materials, they add to the impacts of transformation and distribution, and, as well, to the contemporary human settlements, whether industrial or post-industrial. The relocation of European and American industries to other countries and regions, such as southern Asian ones, is much due to low-paid labour and less strict national environmental laws, passing the global problem from one regional location, to another one, and not eliminating its impacts on the planet.

Sustainability is also broader than climate impacts and the climate emergency as it also encompasses social dimensions and phenomena. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), also known as the Global Goals, were adopted by the United Nations in 2015 as a collective call to action to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure that by 2030 all people can live in peace and prosperity, i.e, sustainably.

The key importance of the SDGs is the recognition that any action in one area will have impact on others and that sustainability includes not only environmental sustainability but also social and economic balance. In this sense, while the international legal instruments such as the Kyoto Protocol (requiring industrialised countries and economies in transition to restrict and lessen greenhouse gases (GHG) emissions in agreement with established individual benchmarks) and the Paris Agreement (a le- gally binding international treaty on climate change that enshrining the limitations of global warming to well below 2, preferably to 1.5 degrees Celsius, compared to pre- industrial levels), and the increased consideration of climate protection legislation at the EU level and the different national legal orders are of paramount importance in addressing core elements of sustainability they do not subsume it.

Sustainability requires a collective effort and involves many other dimensions that in one way or another have contact with industry: decent work, reducing inequalities, social and community impact, and responsible consumption and production among others. Accordingly, the development of a sustainable industry paradigm might be faced with many challenges, but it is necessary to consider the current and future landscape of the different industry sector.