Exo Environmental has several core concepts at the heart of its business model. These are enshrined in classic sustainability; making space for water, quality of water through the Water Framework Directive, climate change adaptation and working with nature. The core values have direct and indirect links to government and non-government management plans and strategic directives, this enables Exo to remain responsive to challenges ahead.
The word sustainability can be defined in many different ways depending on the viewpoint. Exo is concerned in sustainability as employed in the paradigm of sustainable development.
What is now generally considered as the classic definition of sustainable development is stated in the Brundtland Report (Our common Future): ‘development which meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs’ (WCED, 1987 p.45).
The World Commission on Environment and Development (WCED) was created to address the concerns about ‘the accelerating deterioration of the human environment and natural resources and the consequences of that deterioration for economic and social development’. As such, the concept of sustainable development emphasises a few common principles. Firstly, the commitment to equity and fairness. Secondly, the prevention of environmental degradation. Thirdly, that sustainable development embodies an integration between environment, economy and society.
Our Common Future
United Nations sustainability development knowledge platform:
MAKING SPACE FOR WATER
In the policy document: ‘Making space for water’ (Summer 2004), the Government (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs DEFRA) sets out to implement a more holistic approach to managing floods and coastal erosion risks in England. It aims to tackle water related problems by adopting a whole catchment and whole shoreline approach. In addition it aims to adopt the concept of sustainability and doing so in light of climate change adaptation. Lastly, it contributes to the implementation of the Water Framework Directive.
Practical examples to increase the resilience to flood risks are the realignment of rivers, the improvement of urban drainage and the creations of wetlands for water retention.
Ruimte voor de Rivier:
WATER FRAMEWORK DIRECTIVE
The European commission adopted the Water Framework Directive (WFD) in 2000 in response to the growing concerns about water pollution. The WFD however, takes a far more holistic approach and aims to project and improve all inland surface waters (rivers and lakes), estuaries, coastal waters and groundwater. Consideration is also given to all aquatic ecosystems and, with regard to ‘water’ needs, terrestrial ecosystems and wetlands need to meet ‘good status’ by 2015. The Blueprint (to Safeguard Europe’s Water Resources) 2012, aims for better implementation and increased integration of water policies.
A Blueprint to Safeguard Europe’s Water Resources:
CLIMATE CHANGE ADAPTATION
Climate has always changed, however Exo recognises that the rate of change is sufficiently fast enough that natural and anthropogenic systems cannot cope and adapt sufficiently quick enough. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was established in 1988 to assess the changing climate; their latest findings are discussed in the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report (2013). Exo aims to improve the capacity of natural, managed and human systems to adapt to, and reduce vulnerability to climate change.
IPCC Fifth Assessment Report (2013):
Working WITH NATURE
Exo defines working with nature (building with nature) as, “a process where natural and anthropogenic systems work in symbiosis.” There is a mutually beneficial relationship, where both systems are part of a whole. For example; managing natural systems (e.g. waterways) instead of controlling them, a strategy that is implemented at the design stage of a project. Other individual examples are bio-engineering, using vegetation as a form of natural erosion protection and bio-mimicry, copying from nature.
PIANC working with nature:
Building with Nature by Ronald Waterman:
Engineering with nature by U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE)
Building with Nature by Ecoshape:
USAR (Using Sediment As a Resource)