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Freshwater Management Series No. 7


A Technical Approach in Environmental Management


Role of the International Environmental Technology Centre

The International Environmental Technology Centre (IETC) was established by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) in April 1994. The Centre’s main function is to promote the application of environmentally sound technologies in developing countries and countries in transition. IETC pays particular attention to urban environmental problems and to the management of freshwater resources.

IETC’s activities assist decision makers in governments and other organizations by:

  Raising awareness
  Facilitating the exchange of information,
  Building local capacity to make informed decisions,
  Promoting the development and demonstration of environmentally sound technologies leading to their adoption and use.

Purpose of this Publication

The purpose of this publication is to provide a conceptual overview of phytotechnologies and their importance in relation to various environmental problems and potential solutions. Although it does not address all aspects of phytotechnology, it does provide the basis of a conceptual framework for understanding the importance of ecosystems approaches in helping to achieve sustainable development objectives. It also examines the role of phytotechnology in relation to some key issues including integrated water resources management, urban environmental management, biodiversity and climate change.

The introductory section highlights the importance of an ecosystems perspective in the development and application of sustainable, environmentally sound technologies. It outlines the rationale for promoting appropriate, environmentally sound applications of phytotechnologies. It also describes how ecologically sound engineering practices and ecotechnologies can help society adapt to the dynamic self-organizing characteristics of natural systems. Section 2 describes the context for the beneficial application of phytotechnologies, including biodiversity, sustainable water, climate change and the importance of ecosystems and “natural capital”. Following this, in Section 3, some examples of environmental applications of phytotechnology are presented. Section 4 summarizes some of the important factors that must be taken into account when considering the development and application of phytotechnologies, and section 5 highlights a number of important issues and possible actions that require further consideration. Appended to the publication is a glossary of relevant terms.

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