Sustainable development was presented by the United Nations Commission on Environment and Development in 1987 as an approach to reconcile global economic development with environmental protection and social equity. Since its inception, various organizations have incorporated sustainable development into ongoing operations with the goal of continuous improvement. The chemical industry has also considered near-term and long-term steps toward sustainability through various steps such as innovations in education, energy efficiency, use of renewable feedstocks and energy, green chemistry, life cycle assessments (LCA) and others measures. Process intensification represents an important enabler of sustainability by its potential to address several of these steps to sustainability of the chemical industry. This plenary talk will provide:
1. a background on sustainable development and global programs to address the most pressing human needs,
2. review the chemical industry perspectives on sustainable development,
3. present some tools such as life cycle assessment (LCA), techno-economic analysis (TEA), and social LCA to assess sustainability, and
4. give examples of how process intensification can help achieve sustainable development in the chemical industry through examples and case studies.