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Understanding Dredging

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Every stage of a dredging project presents opportunities to increase the sustainability of sand extraction. How the global dredging industry uses sand in a responsible manner is described in the new paper “Sand as a resource: Best practices to conduct responsible dredging projects”, initiated and presented by the Sustainability Committee of the International Association of Dredging Companies (IADC). Click the link to download the paper free of charge:

The increasing tension between human development and planetary resilience urges us to rethink the way we work and live. The dredging sector is no exception. It uses sand as a building block to create infrastructure projects for social and economic development. At the same time, the increasing quantities extracted and its impacts on environment and society raise concerns.

In 2022, UNEP formulated ten recommendations that show the path towards sustainable use of sand[1]. IADC has taken these recommendations to heart and has elaborated from the perspective of the dredging industry on UNEP’S recommendation number 7, “Establish best practices and national standards, and a coherent international framework”.

The best practices described in the paper show that opportunities can be seized to significantly reduce negative impacts on the environment and society as well as increase positive contributions. Best results are achieved when authorities, project owners, stakeholders, project designers and the industry all contribute within their field of competence and responsibility.

“The dredging industry has an important part to play in seizing these opportunities,” says Rene Kolman, Secretary General of IADC. “Operating globally, dredging contractors are working within a wide variety of physical, environmental, social, and legal conditions. Their first-hand experience can serve as a guide to formulating recommendations for responsible use of sand resources. This paper presents best practices for optimal use of scarce sand resources, on both project and operational levels. Every stage of a project presents opportunities to increase the sustainability of sand extraction.”

“The paper starts from the societal concerns about impacts of dredging projects formulated in various publications” says Jan Fordeyn, Director Project Development and Conceptual Design at Jan De Nul and one of the authors of the paper. “The concerns are translated into 16 aspects of dredging projects that impact environment and society. For each of these aspects, observation, analysis and understanding of physical and biological processes can lead to practical measures that reduce negative impacts or turn them into positive contributions. The paper concludes with ongoing and future actions to expand the scope of services the dredging industry can offer.”

[1] UNEP, Sand and Sustainability: 10 strategic recommendations to avert a crisis, 2022.

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