Brownfield redevelopment or restoration of environmentally degraded, idled and abandoned urban lands can help urban sustainability in Pakistan but is being held back by myriad roadblocks, scientists from China and Pakistan find in a new study.

The UN Environment Programme considers brownfield redevelopment among 21 top issues that need to be addressed to meet the challenges of global sustainability in the 21st century. Among the typical brownfield sites are abandoned railroads, chemical storage facilities, and steel and heavy manufacturing sites.

Published this month (March) in the Journal of Cleaner Production, the new study identifies Pakistan-specific barriers to restoring vast tracts of environmentally degraded urban sites that can help the country achieve UN-led sustainable development goals related to poverty alleviation, sustainable citieshealth and access to water and sanitation.  

“Though it is a first brownfield redevelopment study on any developing country, the findings have a viable scope for any other developing country to achieve urban sustainability, particularly in South Asia and Asia-Pacific regions marked by unsustainable urbanisation”

Yuming Zhu, Northwestern Polytechnical University

The barriers cited include absence of law and regulation, unsustainability of government policies, lack of policy incentives, technical personnel, funds and repair technology, difficulties in waste disposal, insufficient site studies, lack of lesson learnt from other countries and insufficient environmental information