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About UNEP
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United Nations Environment Programme
Division of Technology, Industry and Economics
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Environmentally Sound Technologies

1.  Overview

Environmentally Sound Technologies are technologies that help protect the quality of the environment. It may be argued that technologies used to manage wastewater and stormwater are inherently environmental technologies, because without these technologies the pollutants in wastewater and stormwater will negatively affect the environment. Some of these technologies may utilise less energy than others, produce less air pollution or hazardous sludge, or are more suited to wastewater and sludge reuse. Hence some of these technologies are more sustainable. The application of a technology is dependent on local physical factors including land availability, its topography, climate, soil, availability of energy and existing land uses. Sound technology practice is therefore dependent on being able to fit the technology to the local conditions.

Sound practice is also dependent on the context of the local community where the technology is to be applied. Long term sustainability is a function of community resources (funds, skills) to afford the technology and its willingness to pay for the technology and its operation. Sound practices are therefore practices that fit into the environmental, economic, social, cultural and institutional setting of the community.

In this document, wastewater and stormwater characteristics are described to set the context for technologies that need to be used to manage the pollutants they contain. The description is also meant to indicate the resources that are contained in human excreta, and therefore its potential for reuse. Technologies for collection, treatment, reuse and disposal are then described, so that options for different local environmental, economic and social contexts can be evaluated. The description is not meant to be exhaustive, but to enable the scientific basis of the technologies to be understood.

Table of Contents
  • Brochure
  • IETC Brochure


  • International Year of Forests
  • International Year of Forests


  • World Environment Day
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  • UNEP Campaign
  • UNite to Combat Climate Change