The third International Conference on Environmental and Economic Impact on Sustainable Development took place in València, organised by the Universitat Politècnica, represented by Prof Jose Luis Miralles i Garcia, and by the Wessex Institute, represented by Prof Carlos A Brebbia.
The meeting followed the success of the first conference held in the New Forest National Park, home of the Wessex Institute, and the second meeting that took place in the Conero National Park, where it was co-organised by the Politecnica University of Le Marche.
These series of conferences provide a forum to discuss the most serious problems affecting sustainable development. The topics considered encompass environmental policies as well as natural resources management. Special interests are food policies and health issues, as well as a variety of environmental assessment studies. The release of toxic substances in the environment results in water, soil and air pollution problems which require control and mitigation, as any necessary remediation results in major economic and social problems.
The conference series addresses problems of great importance, aiming to discuss more constructive and progressive approaches to sustainability. Because of that, the meeting attracts practitioners as well as researchers from all over the world.
Opening of the Conference
The Conference was opened by Prof Carlos A Brebbia who welcomed the delegates in the name of the Wessex Institute, and explained the motivation behind arranging the annual series of 20 to 25 WIT conferences.
The meetings – Carlos said – are generally held in association with well-known research centres such as the one headed by Prof Jose Luis Miralles at the local University. They highlight the importance of sustainable developments in different regions of the world and, in particular, where major advances have been made, as in the case of València, in which all sections of the community are committed to achieving sustainability. València, Carlos said, is renowned for the integration of agriculture with the city buildings, its abundance of green spaces and parks, and the urban transport system, amongst other initiatives.
Wessex Institute conferences encompass a series of meetings on different aspects of sustainability including energy problems. Having started with a number of conferences on computer methods and engineering sciences, the range of topics has continued to increase, laying more emphasis on interdisciplinarity. Nowadays the programme comprises a large number of interdisciplinary conferences on the assumption that the solution of any problem affecting society requires the participation of all stakeholders.
The Institute, nevertheless, continues to carry out research on specific fields of software for computer simulation. The range of applications of these computer tools, however, continuously increases giving rise to more interdisciplinary work. The original Boundary Element Method codes developed by WIT have been applied to problems as diverse as bioengineering, aerospace, offshore engineering, electromagnetic problems and many others.
The publications of the Institute are carried out by WIT Press, and in an effort to achieve the maximum dissemination of the research published at WIT meetings or in the Journals, it has been decided to offer all this material in Open Access form. Any papers in the WIT eLibrary (http://www.witpress.com/elibrary) can be downloaded for free.
Carlos explained that WIT has a link agreement with the Politècnica with which they have collaborated for a long time. Last year an important event took place at the Universitat campus, ie the award of the Prigogine Medal to Prof Larry Li of the University of California at Riverside. This Medal established by Wessex Institute and the University of Siena in honour of the late Nobel Prize Winner, Prof Prigogine, is awarded every year to a renowned scientist who follows the work of the famous scientist.
There are many other initiatives at the Institute – Carlos said – and some of them may interest many of the delegates. WIT is always keen to discuss possible collaboration and joint development work.
Carlos ended his introductory remarks by inviting the delegates to visit the WIT Campus in the New Forest, a most beautiful part of England and easy to reach from London, as well as any European city (the New Forest is served by two local international airports located in its periphery).
Prof Jose Luis Miralles i Garcia was then introduced by Carlos as the first keynote speaker. He is the Director of the Department of Urban and Regional Planning at the Universitat Politècnica de València, and the author of numerous books and articles in that field. He advises the local government in matters related to planning and, in particular, the protection of the renowned orchards, an ancient form of urban agriculture unique to València.
In addition to Jose Luis’ keynote presentation, the conference attracted a considerable number of excellent presentations, enhanced by a series of invited addresses, as follows:
- “Updated method of aptitude to sustainable urban development including green infrastructure”, by Jose Luis Miralles i Garcia, Universitat Politècnica de València, Spain.
- “Vitrified hillforts as anthropogenic analogues for nuclear waste glasses – Project planning and initiation”, by Rolf Sjoblom, Tekedo AB, Sweden.
- “In situ demonstration of hexavalent chromium treatment in groundwater in Actobe Kazakhstan”, by Roger Olsen, CDM Smith, USA.
- “Environmental assessment using landscape analysis methodology: the case of Jundia Mirim micro-basin, Sao Paulo state, Brazil”, by Gerson Araujo de Medeiros, Sao Paulo State University, Brazil.
- “Electric cars as energy storage in an electricity network”, by Jaap Vleugel, Delft University of Technology, Netherlands.
- “Consumers’ food choices and the role of perceived environmental impact”, by Shahla Wunderlich, Montclair State University, USA.
- “Use of self-organizing maps in the identification of different groups of reclamation sites in the Amazon forest, Brazil”, by Admilson Irio Ribeiro, Sao Paulo State University, Brazil.
- “Methodological development of the water energy food security nexus from a supply chain perspective”, by Ani Melkonyan, University of Duisberg-Essen, Germany.
- “Water quality index in an urban watershed”, by Regina Longo, Pontificia University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Other papers were classified in a series of sessions under the following headings:
- Development issues
- Economic impact
- Food policies and environmental impact
- Environmental assessments
- Water resources management
- Environmental policies and planning
- Natural resources management
The conference offered numerous opportunities for discussions and networking, bringing together people from different countries to exchange experiences. There were a series of extended coffee breaks and lunches.
A conference banquet took place during the first night. It was in a restaurant in the old town renowned for the quality of its local food. The dinner started with the Valencian salad, followed by two types of paella for which the region is renowned throughout the world. The main course was steak, very tender and cooked to perfection. The food was accompanied by excellent regional wines which, in spite of their quality, are not sufficiently known anywhere else, possibly due to its comparatively small production.
At the end of the dinner Carlos said a few words in the name of the organisers and offered the participants, as a souvenir, a copy of a book on Calatrava, who designed most of the structures near the hotel where the conference was held, including the Place of Sciences and Arts, the Aquarium, the Opera House and the stunning bridge over the old river bed. The work of Calatrava, who was born in València, can be seen as the catalyst for the recent emergence of València as a cultural tourist centre.
The International Scientific Committee of the conference met over dinner to discuss the proceedings and find ways to improve the meeting when it is reconvened in 2018. Several nominations for new Committee members were received and possible locations discussed.
In addition, the idea of launching a new Journal to cover the conference topics was presented. The new Journal, to be called “International Journal of Environmental Impacts: Management, Mitigation and Recovery”, will cover topics of interest to participants at the conference. The Journal aims to provide an international forum to discuss the numerous environmental problems present in modern society and their impacts, taking into account scientific, economic and social issues. The Journal will encourage interdisciplinary communication on all issues related to environmental impacts. It is felt that there is a need to bridge the gap between the broad spectrum of economic and socio-political disciplines and specialists in engineering and physical, biological, environmental and health sciences, amongst others.
The Journal will be Open Access and Carlos asked for the support of the community to launch it successfully in order to attract high quality papers.
Close of the Conference
The conference was closed by Carlos who once again thanked the delegates for coming and hoped that they will consider presenting at Environmental Impact 2018.
Carlos also invited them to visit the WIT Campus next time they are in that region so that they can obtain a better idea of the work carried out by the Institute.