Universiteit Leiden

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Kees Hummel

Leiden will host international conference on industrial ecology

In 2021, the eleventh Conference of the International Society for Industrial Ecology will take place in Leiden. The Institute of Environmental Sciences Leiden (CML) has been elected to host the next biennial meeting at the latest conference of the Society in Beijing, China. ‘Industrial ecology can play a role in identifying the direction in which to go.’

Industrial ecology

The very first conference of the International Society of Industrial Ecology (ISIE), in 2001, also took place in Leiden. The event brought together worldwide experts in the field of industrial ecology for the first time. In 2021, Leiden will organise the conference in collaboration with the Delft University of Technology.

Meeting again in Leiden allows seeing the changes that happened in the field during twenty years. In those years, industrial ecology has grown into a field of research that plays a very important part in supporting the transition of society into a more sustainable direction. ‘The idea that we can look at society in terms of flows of materials and energy, the interface between economy and environment, was then new and eye-opening’, says associate professor Ester van der Voet, how will lead the Leiden event. ‘Now it is an accepted part of science as well as policy.’ In 2001, a few progressive universities offered courses in Industrial Ecology. Nowadays, there are entire programs to be found in many places, and a large number of PhD students is working in the field.

Pioneering research

‘CML hosts one of the largest research groups in Industrial Ecology (IE) globally, with a long tradition in pioneering research on IE approaches like Life cycle assessment and Material flow analysis,’ says Arnold Tukker, Scientific Director of CML. ‘We are hence very pleased that ISIE has entrusted us for the 2nd time in 20 years the organisation of the flagship conference of this community’.


The theme of the 2021 conference is ‘Transitions’. Van der Voet explains: ‘Looking back to see where we came from is a good thing. Looking forward to where we would like to go is even better. For that reason, this is the theme we proposed. The world is at a point now where really large changes are needed, and industrial ecology can play a role in identifying the direction in which to go.’


The International Society for Industrial Ecology promotes industrial ecology as a way of finding innovative solutions to complicated environmental problems, and facilitates communication among scientists, engineers, policymakers, managers and advocates who are interested in better integrating environmental concerns with economic activities. The mission of the ISIE is to promote the use of industrial ecology in research, education, policy, community development, and industrial practices.

The conference will take place from 5 till 8 July 2021 in Leiden.

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