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ISLAMABAD: The regulatory and institutional challenges for government of Punjab in adoption of Eco-Industrial Park (EIP) framework are more related to implementation issues (enforcement of the regulations, monitoring of the performances, and financing and financial arrangement—PPP) than to policy and regulation gaps.

This has been stated in a World Bank report, “Toward an Eco-Industrial Park Framework in Punjab: Regulatory and Institutional Strengthening for Industrial Estates.”

The report noted that most of these challenges could be addressed with a structured reform that strengthens the measures and tools for the private sector to implement investments to increase sustainability and reduce environmental and social impacts, while increasing enforcement and monitoring of the IEs’ environmental and resource efficiency performances.

In Pakistan, many industrial processes are resource intensive.

Employing resource efficiency methods as part of the implementation of the EIP Framework in IEs will save considerable resources and resource-related costs.

Even though it seems costly to implement, investment payback on most resource efficiency techniques/technologies can be relatively short (for example, generally from a few months to three to four years depending on the technology considered). When several inter-firm collaborations are created, significant resource savings are often achieved through spontaneously developed circular economy strategies, the report noted.

In addition to resource efficiency and circular economy measures taken within and between the tenant firms, realisation of green infrastructure opportunities creates considerable impact on source utilization and environmental performance of IEs.

Some examples of green infrastructure opportunities that can enable EIs to save tremendous amount of energy, water, and raw materials are rainwater harvesting, efficient street lighting, water distribution system renovations, electricity generation from biogas, and reuse of treated wastewater.

The EIP Framework in Punjab will constitute an important policy tool which assists to create and facilitate increased productivity and competitiveness of the Punjab IE ecosystem as a whole.

In addition to fostering industrial development, the EIP Framework implementation will help balance regional development gaps and form collaborative relationships between stakeholders.

The EIP Framework strategies reduce the IEs’ dependency on non-renewable resources and thus increase their resilience to shortage in supply.

The report further stated that international or multinational companies seeking new plant locations will consider the possible advantages of EIPs.

Benefiting from the state-of-the-art green infrastructures (for example, steam supply), ability to develop/maintain by-product exchange, access to resource efficiency consultancy, and proactive marketing opportunities for their supply chains will attract them, which will lead to increased foreign direct investment (FDI) to Pakistan.

Obviously, planning and establishing an EIP Framework in Pakistan as well as rehabilitating/re-branding the existing IEs will need more time and resources when compared to ‘business as usual’ practices in conventional IEs.

For instance, setting up an industrial symbiosis network between tenant firms requires matching tenant firms based on their outputs and material/feedstock needs. The green infrastructure to connect facilities (through pipeline, conveyor, or road) may also demand additional resources.

Moreover, management of an EIP will need funds to market, recruit potential tenants, and facilitate feasible material exchanges, it added.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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