Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure. The struggle to realize the principle of sound efficiency in support of the right to a clean, healthy, and sustainable environment without noise pollution
The United Nations has as one of its Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure segment development goals building resilient infrastructure to promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization fostered by innovation. There are also other goals: health and well-being (goal 3), ensuring healthy lives and promoting well-being for all of all ages in all cities), sustainable cities and communities (Goal 11: Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient, and sustainable), responsible consumption and production (Goal 12 – Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns), partnerships for the goals (Goal 17 – Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development).
The UN passed Resolution No. 76/2022, recognizing the right to a clean, sustainable, and healthy environment. And the OECD has studies to promote responsible business conduct, something to be applied by the equipment and infrastructure industries and condominiums, among others.
Based on this normative context, we will try to present some insights into the control of noise pollution arising from the manufacture of noisy machines to achieve the right to smart, healthy, and sustainable cities. And to institutionalize the principle of acoustic efficiency for noise control of machinery, equipment, works, services, and infrastructure. We urgently need to maximize the acoustic efficiency of the machines and minimize noise to protect public health and welfare. According to the World Health Organization, noise above 50 decibels is harmful to health. Noise affects cognition, and physiology, impacting the nervous, cardiovascular, endocrine, sleep, and digestive systems, among others. Noise is an anomaly, a mechanical pathology, a symbol of the acoustic inefficiency of machines!
Some considerations on this matter:
First, the gardening equipment and construction industries, condominiums, mass transit systems, helicopters, household appliances, the automobile industry, drones, and others must conform to the right to a clean, healthy, and sustainable environment. Thus, we need eco-efficient and acoustically eco-sustainable business models.
Second, industrial innovation should focus on replacing acoustically inefficient mechanical technologies with acoustically eco-efficient and environmentally sustainable ones. In this regard, adherence to the principle of acoustic efficiency is urgently needed, with investments in environmental sustainability for the eco-efficiency of the machines. Laws encouraging acoustic environmental sustainability should support the change in the industrial pattern, replacing inefficient technologies with more efficient ones from an acoustic perspective. Municipalities can and should encourage technological innovations to promote acoustic efficiency and environmental sustainability. This can be done through its purchasing power by encouraging public tenders and buying eco-friendly products, services, and equipment.
Third, urban infrastructure in cities must be eco-efficient and committed to acoustic environmental sustainability. Urban infrastructure (streets, avenues, sidewalks, condominiums) must adopt clean, healthy, and sustainable technologies. In this regard, there is public infrastructure and private infrastructure (condominiums), both of which must be aligned with the best practices of acoustic environmental management. Environmental law enforcement agencies must prevent and repress noise with measures for monitoring urban noise.
Fourth, there should urgently be an educational campaign directed at residential condominiums to raise awareness of how machine noise can damage people’s health and well-being. Laws should encourage self-regulatory practices by condominiums for noise containment and acoustic environmental governance and compliance measures.
Fifth, consumers and end users of industry and infrastructure should be informed about the institutional and industry policies adopted by governments and companies for acoustic environmental sustainability. There should be maximum transparency from manufacturers and retailers about the acoustic efficiency of the machines. This is why policies for adhering to acoustic efficiency equipment seals are fundamental.
Sixth, the construction industry should adopt acoustically efficient machines, abandoning inefficient machines, for the sake of the health and well-being of its employees and for the sake of the health and well-being of other citizens.
Seventh, the machine industry must invest in efficient machines. Therefore, there is a legal and ethical duty to conduct research and develop equipment that is committed to acoustic environmental sustainability. The industry should guide itself by the acoustic quality standard of its equipment.
Eighth, we need to update the laws and the institutional training of competent government agencies to raise awareness of acoustic environmental sustainability.
Ninth, society demands better business conduct committed to acoustic environmental sustainability, with governance practices and acoustic environmental compliance so that the principle of acoustic efficiency in equipment, works, and services can be achieved. In short: The right to a clean, sustainable, and healthy environment is premised on acoustic environmental sustainability. We urgently need innovation by the industry, condominiums, machine suppliers, and service providers to ensure commitment to acoustic efficiency, replacing polluting machines with eco-efficient and eco-sustainable technologies.
Ericson Scorsim. Lawyer and Public Law Consultant Ph.D. in Law from the University of São Paulo (USP). Author of the book Propostas Regulatórias: Anti-Ruídos Urbanos (Regulatory Proposals: Anti-Urban Noise), Amazon, 2022
 OECD, OECD Studies on Responsible Business Conduct Policy, 2022.
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