A mosaic of MENA languages

A mosaic of MENA languages

The above-featured image is for illustration and is credit to Pinterest

Courtesy of Rising Voices


.The Middle East and North Africa region boasts a rich tapestry of languages and cultures. However, despite this richness and diversity, the region has not received adequate attention when it comes to language rights. Unfortunately, this has resulted in a lack of research on the various language communities in the region, leaving these communities at risk of being left behind in the global discourse on language rights.

Recognizing the importance of filling the gap in research and advocacy for non-Arabic language communities in the region, with the support of the IFEX network, Rising Voices has launched a new project dedicated to shedding light on six such communities.

These communities include:

      • Kurdish
      • Assyrian
      • Armenian
      • Nubian
      • Soqotri
      • Amazigh


The project aims to support their rights to free expression and access to information in online and offline civic spaces. It seeks to identify the opportunities, challenges, and threats they face in the digital realm, in order to better understand their unique needs and set priorities for advocacy strategies to address them.

Linguistic rights refer to the right of people and communities to use, maintain, and develop their native languages without discrimination. This right allows people to use their own language in public, receive education, and access information in their own language. It also includes the right to use their own language in legal proceedings.

On the other hand, freedom of expression is a fundamental human right enshrined in Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). It states that:

Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive, and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.

This right is protected under international law, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

Linguistic rights are significant for human dignity because they allow individuals and communities to exercise other human rights, such as political and social participation, cultural and religious expression, access to information, education, and the justice system. When these rights are denied or restricted, it can lead to discrimination, marginalization, and oppression.

Upholding linguistic rights and freedom of expression, on the other hand, enables individuals and communities to fully participate in society, express their unique identities and perspectives, and contribute to the cultural diversity and richness of our wondrous world.



What are the challenges facing smart cities in 2023?

What are the challenges facing smart cities in 2023?

What are the challenges facing smart cities in 2023? Muhammad Yahya Patel, Lead Security Engineer at Check Point Software Technologies answers in TechRadar.com.

The above-featured image is for illustration and is of The Peninsula.


What are the challenges facing smart cities in 2023?


Smart cities face unique challenges when it comes to cybersecurity. Networks are used by public and private entities, people and thousands of IoT devices each day. The massive amount of data exchanged across these networks requires a stringent security strategy. Some of the main challenges include:

Connected devices: A multitude of IoT devices that control everything from CCTV and traffic light management to organizations personal and financial data could be connected to a network at any one time. In theory this sounds ideal for seamless communication and management, but in practice it offers hackers thousands of potential entry points to launch an attack.


Automation of infrastructure operations: Automation brings many benefits for all kinds of operations for smart cities, reducing the need for direct human control over such operational systems. The increase of sensors means more connections to monitor and manage. These could be seen as more targets to compromise through vulnerabilities.

Sub-standard data management processes: Data is at the heart of any smart city and is critical to everyday operations. However, many lack the correct processes to ensure this information is managed safely and securely. If a database is not policed correctly, it can be simple for hackers to target and compromise, which leads to sensitive data being leaked or stolen.

Risks from the ICT supply chain and vendors: We know the risks posed by the supply chain and third parties. This was particularly evident during the recent zero-day vulnerability found in file transfer software MOVEit, which was subsequently exploited as part of a large-scale ransomware attack. Threat actors continue to target the weakest links and therefore attacking smart infrastructure systems are bound to be a lucrative target for any cybercriminal. To combat this, it is key that we adopt and adhere to secure-by-design and default practices to minimize these risks.

Outdated technology: Many cities have infrastructure and networks built on outdated technology which leaves them susceptible to cyberattacks. Ensuring systems are up to date with the latest software updates and security patches is paramount. Technology is central to the success of any smart city and having resilient systems should be a priority.

Inefficient security: Linked directly to outdated technology, having inefficient security protocols in place exposes smart cities to malicious threats. This leaves citizens and organizations vulnerable to data breaches, identity theft and loss of sensitive information. Protecting existing infrastructure with robust security measures could prevent a potentially disastrous breach. So, how do we ensure that the safety, security and privacy of those who live and work in smart cities is not compromised?

Building cyber resilience within smart cities

Research suggests that by 2024 there will be over 1.3 billion wide-area network smart city connections. The level of complexity within these digital infrastructures is only increasing which means any digital services implemented by a government or organization are vulnerable to cyberattacks. To realize their potential, smart cities need to find an effective balance between managing risk and enabling growth.

Building resilience to protect your city against these attacks is key, but how is this achieved? The starting point should be developing a cybersecurity strategy that maps on to the broader objective of your smart city. This will help mitigate risks arising from the interconnectedness of city processes and systems. Part of any effective strategy should be the requirement to carry out an assessment of current data, systems and cyber defenses as this will help to give an idea of current posture and quality of infrastructure.

Creating a formal relationship between cybersecurity and the governance of data will also be extremely beneficial. This essentially creates an agreed approach to cybersecurity between all parties within a smart city, meaning all stakeholders work together to ensure data is secure across the networks it’s being exchanged. The policies put in place will mature alongside a city’s cyber strategy and add transparency to processes.

Finally, building strategic partnerships to help address the cybersecurity skills shortage is key to any successful security strategy. This is a good way to develop skills and increase your knowledge base which in turn bolsters overall security posture and resilience. For example, recently the CISA, NSA, FBI, NCSC-UK, ACSC, CCCS and NCSC-NZ released a document with guidance on best practices for smart cities. The aim is not only to protect these connected spaces from malicious threats but also to share expertise and educate us on the importance of cybersecurity within smart cities.

Get smart and be proactive

It goes without saying, smart city technologies need to adopt a proactive methodology to ensure cyber security risks are the forefront of planning and design of technologies. Being ‘secure by design’ is strongly recommended in conjunction with a defense in depth approach. There may be some legacy infrastructure connecting to the smart infrastructure, and this may require a redesign to make sure secure connectivity and integration is possible.

Hackers will continue to exploit vulnerabilities. An overwhelming number of cyberattacks against businesses could be avoided if supply chain and third-party security is taken seriously. Attackers are exceptionally quick to start exploiting vulnerabilities in well-known products. Invest in the resources to help combat the everyday struggle of security patches and updates. You don’t want to get caught out by the very thing you expect to protect your business.

Underpinning the implementation of smart city technology is operational resilience. To make sure organizations are well prepared, contingencies are put in place for different types of incidents, which could have operational impact or disruption. Autonomous functionality and isolation tools should exist to help minimize these types of disruption.

Risk, privacy and legality all play an important role in smart cities, making sure data being collected, stored and processed is in accordance with regulations. It’s critical that city leaders, developers and business owners don’t see securing cyber risk within their smart city as a one-time objective. It’s an ongoing, evolving process that could be the difference between a major breach or major growth..



Middle East: What future for agriculture?

Middle East: What future for agriculture?

Middle East: What future for agriculture?

Governments can offer subsidies or low-interest loans to help offset the initial costs associated with implementing smart farming technologies such as precision agriculture systems or automated irrigation methods.


Middle East: What future for agriculture?


Middle Eastern countries face many challenges, starting with feeding their growing populations. Solutions exist, both in terms of quality and quantity. But in the context of global warming, it is urgent to act.

Welcome to the arid lands of the Middle East, where ancient civilizations have thrived for centuries against all odds. This region is not only rich in history and culture but also possesses a wealth of potential when it comes to agriculture. However, with increasing populations and dwindling resources, the future of agricultural production in the Middle East hangs in the balance. Yes, stakes are high these days. But countries in the MENA (Middle East and North Africa) region can harness agritech to overcome their unique agricultural challenges. From water scarcity to technological constraints, we will delve into innovative solutions that can pave the way towards sustainable farming practices. Join us as we uncover the possibilities for smart farming and discuss ways to combat climate change’s detrimental impact on food security.
How the Middle East countries can promote agritech

The Middle East countries have a tremendous opportunity to promote agritech and revolutionize their agricultural sector. One key aspect is the adoption of advanced technologies that can enhance productivity, conserve resources, and ensure food security in the face of mounting challenges.

An important step towards promoting agritech is investing in research and development. By allocating funds for scientific studies, governments can support innovation and encourage the creation of cutting-edge solutions tailored to the region’s specific needs. Collaboration between local universities, start-ups, and international experts can foster a culture of knowledge-sharing and accelerate technological advancements.

Furthermore, fostering partnerships between public institutions and private companies can play a crucial role in driving agritech forward. Encouraging joint ventures will not only attract foreign investment but also enable local businesses to tap into global expertise and access state-of-the-art technologies.

Another avenue for promoting agritech lies in providing financial incentives for farmers to adopt new practices. Governments can offer subsidies or low-interest loans to help offset the initial costs associated with implementing smart farming technologies such as precision agriculture systems or automated irrigation methods.

Moreover, establishing dedicated training programs is vital for ensuring successful integration of agritech solutions into farming practices across the region. Offering workshops, seminars, or online courses on agri-technology will equip farmers with the necessary skills to leverage these innovations effectively.

In conclusion (in this blog section), by prioritizing research and development efforts, fostering partnerships between public institutions and private enterprises while offering financial incentives along with comprehensive training programs; Middle East countries hold immense potential for promoting agritech at various levels – from small-scale farms up to large commercial operations. Embracing technology-driven approaches will undoubtedly pave the way towards sustainable agricultural production in this dynamic region.

Agricultural resources and technological constraints

When it comes to agriculture in the Middle East, there are both abundant resources and technological constraints that need to be considered. The region is blessed with fertile land and a favorable climate for growing a variety of crops. However, limited access to water resources poses a major challenge for agricultural production.

Countries like Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia have been heavily reliant on irrigation systems to sustain their agricultural activities. This has put immense pressure on already scarce water supplies. As global warming exacerbates drought conditions in the region, finding sustainable solutions becomes even more crucial.

To address these challenges, agritech innovations can play a significant role. Smart farming techniques that optimize water usage through precision irrigation systems can help conserve this precious resource while maximizing crop yields. Additionally, the use of advanced sensors and data analytics can provide valuable insights into soil health and nutrient management.

In recent years, several initiatives have emerged across the MENA region to promote agritech startups and research institutions focused on developing technologies tailored specifically for local conditions. These efforts aim not only to enhance agricultural productivity but also foster food security in an increasingly uncertain world.

By embracing sustainable farming practices and investing in technological advancements such as precision agriculture and hydroponics systems powered by renewable energy sources like solar power or wind turbines – countries in the Middle East can mitigate some of the challenges posed by limited resources while ensuring long-term food security for their populations.

It is clear that addressing the agricultural constraints requires collaboration between governments, private sector players,and research institutions.

The future of agriculture in the Middle East lies within innovative solutions that harness technology’s potential while respecting environmental limitations

Fighting the impact of global warming

Global warming is a pressing issue that affects agriculture in the Middle East. Rising temperatures, changing rainfall patterns, and increased frequency of extreme weather events pose significant challenges to agricultural production in the region.

One way to combat the impact of global warming on agriculture is through sustainable farming practices. By adopting techniques such as conservation tillage, crop rotation, and organic farming methods, farmers can reduce greenhouse gas emissions and mitigate climate change effects. Additionally, using precision agriculture technologies like remote sensing and GPS can optimize resource use and minimize environmental impact.

Water scarcity is another major concern for agricultural production in the Middle East. With limited freshwater resources, efficient irrigation systems are crucial. Drip irrigation techniques have proven effective in conserving water while maintaining crop yields. Investing in advanced water management systems and promoting responsible water usage can help alleviate the strain on water resources.

Furthermore, diversifying crops can enhance food security by reducing reliance on a single crop or limited range of cereals. Encouraging farmers to grow a variety of crops adapted to changing climatic conditions ensures resilience against potential losses due to climate-related impacts.

Collaboration between governments, research institutions, and private sector companies is vital for developing innovative agritech solutions tailored to local contexts. Supporting initiatives that promote smart farming technologies like vertical farming or hydroponics can increase agricultural productivity while minimizing land use.

It is now essential for countries in the Middle East to prioritize sustainable farming practices and invest in agritech advancements to combat the impact of global warming on agriculture effectively. By adapting strategies suited for their specific constraints – whether it be scarce water resources or increasing temperatures – these nations can ensure food security for their populations while preserving their natural environment.



How can digital twins minimise construction’s environmental impact?

How can digital twins minimise construction’s environmental impact?

The digitalisation of every aspect of business life in general and that of one sector of human activities of a construction’s buildability issues cannot be ignored.  But how can digital twins minimise construction’s environmental impact? Lots of young entrepreneurs are moving into the sector as shown here in this very typical example.

The above-featured image is for illustration and is of AutoDesk.



How can digital twins minimise construction’s environmental impact?

Unrecognizable construction worker hands holding a digital tablet while working outdoors

Digital Construction News

How can digital twins minimise construction’s environmental impact?

In this article, Nilson Kufus, CEO and founder of Nomoko, explores the uses and benefits of digital twins in minimising the construction industry’s environmental impact

The construction industry is a major contributor to global CO2 emissions, with estimates indicating that it accounts for nearly 40% of all emissions worldwide.

In light of this, it is increasingly important for the industry to find ways to minimise its environmental impact. One emerging solution is the use of digital twins, which are virtual replicas of physical buildings or infrastructure that can be used to model and predict their impact and performance.

By leveraging the power of this technology, construction companies can reduce their environmental impact by avoiding rework, comparing as-built to as-designed plans, capturing progress, and easily sharing the data with all stakeholders in a visual manner.

What are digital twins?

Digital twins are virtual copies of real-world objects that are created by combining data from various sources such as high-definition drone images, environmental 3D models, building information models (BIMs), sensors, and other digital tools.

Once a digital twin is created, it can be used to simulate and monitor a building’s performance under different scenarios.

For example, a digital twin can be used to simulate the impact of constructing a building in the area, as well as predict the effects of different occupancies on the surrounding area.

Depending on the data integrated with the digital twin, this could include monitoring and predicting how a new building might impact surface runoff or how extending a neighbourhood might affect traffic in that area.

Predicting the impact on the environment while also predicting the impact of the environment means architects and construction companies can assess which building materials, structures, and designs make the most sense for the area.

How 3D digital twins can prevent design errors and problems

One of the key benefits of using 3D digital twins in a construction project is that they allow designers, engineers, and other stakeholders to identify potential design errors and problems early in the design process – before construction begins.

Evaluating how a new building will fit in its environmental context ensures that the project does not conflict with other uses of the space, neighbouring parcels, protected natural zones, etc., minimizing the need for expensive retrofitting or repairs.

Any miscalculation can lead to costly construction rework: more than 5% of total project costs can be attributed to rework, with to up to 70% of them due to engineering and design errors.

Minimising the environmental impact of construction

3D digital twins can also minimise the environmental impact of construction by identifying optimal areas where buildings could be placed or by indicating the right building shape that would maximize solar exposure, reducing the need for artificial lighting and heating.

Additionally, 3D digital twins from drones can be used to monitor and optimize the construction process itself. Up-to-date data and images of the construction site allow construction companies to adjust in real-time.

In this way, 3D models can, for example, be used to monitor the progress of construction and identify areas where materials could be reused or recycled, thus reducing waste and minimizing the need for new materials.

Digital twins can help to reduce energy consumption and prolong the lifespan of equipment

Beyond this, digital twins can also be used to optimise the maintenance and operation of buildings by reducing energy consumption and prolonging the lifespan of equipment and systems thanks to better planning.

By monitoring how buildings are affected by, say, environmental factors, digital twins make it possible to do predictive rather than reactive maintenance.

This, in turn, allows for just-in-time replacement of system parts, so that parts are used as long as possible yet without risking costly failures. Overall, the use of 3D digital twins in construction can help to prevent design errors before construction has started.

A few challenges are still to be overcome, such as the need for interoperability and standardisation across different digital tools and systems, as building a comprehensive digital twin requires integrating data from various sources.

Regardless the simulations that digital twins enable are a remarkable tool for identifying where the environmental impact could be reduced, leading to a more efficient and sustainable construction and reducing the impact on our planet.


How can digital twins minimise construction’s environmental impact?

Nilson Kumus

Nilson Kufus, CEO and founder



The Roots of the Global Water Crisis

The Roots of the Global Water Crisis

The above-featured image is for illustration and is of World Atlas


castellino1SAM PANTHAKYAFP via Getty Images_water

SAM PANTHAKY/AFP via Getty Images


The Roots of the Global Water Crisis

25 September 2023
Every country in the world faces water-related challenges, underscoring our collective dependence on the planet’s most vital resource. But instead of pursuing the systemic changes needed to address this crisis, the world’s governments are bowing to corporate interests and settling for insufficient incremental reforms.

LONDON – In March 1977, representatives from 116 countries gathered in Mar del Plata, Argentina, for the inaugural United Nations Water Conference. At the time, the event received very little attention. Global politics was dominated by a handful of powerful countries, most of them in temperate regions where water scarcity, severe pollution, and flooding were not considered major issues.

The atmosphere at this year’s UN Water Conference, which took place in New York in March, was markedly different. Instead of apathy, there was a palpable sense that the water crisis is a global problem. Today, every country in the world faces water-related challenges, underscoring our collective vulnerability as the planet’s most vital natural resource is increasingly threatened. The robust engagement of the scientific community and civil society was also instrumental in shedding light on the far-reaching consequences of this crisis.

Unsurprisingly, the countries that were most at risk in 1977 are even more vulnerable today. The reckless exploitation of the planet has accelerated humanity’s breach of planetary boundaries. The long-anticipated sea-level rise is now submerging vast areas, while deserts are expanding at an alarming rate as water sources diminish and aquifers become depleted. Meanwhile, pollutants from human waste, along with the byproducts of industrial activities, contaminate our rivers, lakes, and oceans. At a time of growing scarcity, our seemingly insatiable thirst for consumption has aggravated these trends.

The fact that some remain unaffected by this crisis attests to their privilege. While many experience environmental degradation on a spiritual level, some of the world’s poorest populations face immediate and tangible consequences as they try to adapt to rapidly changing conditions.

Much like the response to the climate crisis, the response to the water crisis suffers from a lack of global coordination and opposition from entrenched interests seeking to prevent crucial reforms. As the Indian environmental activist Vandana Shivaputs it, “When the rich, powerful, and dominant economic forces of society” exceed their fair share of Earth’s resources, “indigenous communities and minority groups are deprived of their share of water for life and livelihoods.” This, she writes, forces entire communities “to carry the heavy burden of water poverty.”

A recent petition proposed by prominent water-rights activist Rajendra Singh offers a potential path forward. Singh, chairman of the People’s World Commission on Drought and Flood, outlines ten critical transformations required to restore water harmony. By transcending anthropocentrism, his proposed pledge aims to rejuvenate the global water cycle and harness its immense power to promote the well-being of all living things.

At the heart of Singh’s pledge lies the bedrock principle of climate-oriented thinking: a complete system overhaul. This perspective views humanity as part of a much larger whole that encompasses the diverse species with which we share our planet. Instead of commodifying natural resources for profit and relentless consumption, this ethos encourages people to be mindful of the potential consequences of their actions and commit to repairing any damage they cause.

This raises three fundamental questions. First, what actions are required to address the global water crisis? Second, which key stakeholders must step up? Third, how can we ensure that these stakeholders implement vital systemic changes?

For too long, policymakers have emphasized minor changes in household consumption habits, thereby unfairly shifting the burden to families and communities whose contributions to the water crisis have been negligible. The root causes of water scarcity are large-scale industrial production, lack of attention to quality, and the failure to address rampant pollution. At the macro level, extractive industries and an economic system centered on profit maximization drive the increase in global temperatures, further disrupting water cycles.

While reducing household consumption is important, it pales in comparison to the potential impact of forcing corporations to adopt sustainable practices. But the increasingly symbiotic relationship between politics and big-business interests complicates this task. Instead of pursuing systemic changes, the world’s most powerful governments have opted for incremental reforms to create the appearance of commitment.

The recent UN Water Conference underscored the urgency of today’s crisis. If governments are unwilling or unable to pursue the necessary structural reforms, they must be replaced by political leaders with the vision and determination to overhaul the systems that jeopardize the natural resource sustaining all life on Earth.

Growing up in India, I observed the country’s relentless drive to catch up with wealthier economies. By investing in higher education, building roads and hospitals, and boosting economic growth through consumption and increased production, the thinking went, India could become richer and eliminate poverty. The mainstream education system frequently championed the commodification of nature, anthropocentric dominance, and extractivism. It revered the architects of our flawed economic system, treating their words as sacrosanct.

Indigenous communities have long warned that such “progress” was misguided, but they were dismissed as hidebound and out of touch with reality. As climate change disrupts water and food systems around the world, many now recognize the prescience of these warnings. Given that we might be the last generation capable of mitigating the worst effects of the water crisis, it is our responsibility to hold accountable those who are exploiting the planet for personal gain.

Deep sea mining and killing the seas so you can build

Deep sea mining and killing the seas so you can build

As it bakes, Egypt looks to the cooling power of the sea for help.  It is not only countries but we all look at the seaside for some freshness. Not only that; seasides are bordered by sandy beaches amongst many other types of seashores and these are in such demand because of the availability and inexhaustibility of the modern times material that is sand. Deep sea mining and killing the seas so you can build your concrete dream home.
The above-featured image is for illustration and is credit to Science.howstuffworks

Deep sea mining and killing the seas so you can build your concrete dream home

Deep sea mining and killing the seas so you can build Sand mining in the Czech Republic

Sand mining in the Czech Republic

The excellent article on Green Prophet: Deep sea mining and killing the seas so you can drive an electric car was timely and extremely relevant. Deep sea mining is not only taking place for minerals and metals, but also for a very basic element found on the sea bed: sand.

One of the most common uses of beach or sea sand in general, is in construction. Sand is one of the ingredients in the production of concrete and other building materials. Concrete is made up of a mixture of water, cement, and aggregate, which is composed of crushed rock, gravel and sand. Sea sand is also used as a raw material in the glass, silicon and ceramic industries and for land restoration.



The construction industry consumes about 4 billion tons of cement every year and 40 billion tons of sand for construction. The total use of sand worldwide is estimated at 50 billion tons annually. The dredging industry for sand is active in South China Sea, the North Sea and the East Coast of the United States, according to the University of Geneva, with China, the Netherlands, the United States and Belgium being the most active countries in this field. Interestingly enough, although deserts have plenty of sand, the desert sand is unsuitable for construction. Its rounded faces and high dust content, give concrete of very low quality, that does not comply with the industry standards.

Regulating sand mining from the seas

Deep sea mining and killing the seas so you can build Sand mining on the beach in Morocco

Illegal sand mining activities linked to Spain are devastating Moroccan beaches. Image via the ISS

Sand is one of the world’s most consumed natural resource on the planet, after water. But, despite the damage it causes, it is still unregulated. According to the UN the practice is unsustainable and could irreparably affect marine life. Pascal Penducci, director of UNEP’s Global Resources Database, described the marine sand dredging as a “giant vacuum cleaner”, draining the seabed by removing all the micro-organisms that support sea life.

Consider, what the ISS reports: “state developments in Morocco require an estimated 30 million tons of sand every year. Coastal sand along the western seaboard and Mediterranean is increasingly extracted, legally and illegally, by both registered companies and traffickers. The result is a series of lunar-like landscapes along Morocco’s coastline, which damages fragile ecosystems and increases the vulnerability of infrastructure to storms and rising sea levels.”



The ECOWEEK week of lectures, films and design workshops address design and construction practices and promote sustainable design and circular practices primarily among graduate and undergraduate students of architecture and design in 17 countries.

In 2018, ECOWEEK hosted the Today Tomorrow project of EUNIC (European Union National Institutes for Culture) in Tel Aviv. Within this collaboration the film “Sand Wars” was screened. Released in 2013 it is directed by Denis Delestrac.

The film “Sand Wars” tracks the contractors, smugglers and property developers hoarding sand from legal or illegal mining on sea shores and sea bed dredging. It presents the unsuccessful efforts by Municipalities, draining municipal budgets, to replenish seashores with sand. Only to be washed away, due to the voids created by deep sea mining. The film also presents the struggle of local communities to protect their sea shore residences from coastal erosion and damage and the loss of coastal shorelines, caused by sand extraction from the sea and shores.

If electric cars are a luxury – as compared to other modes of sustainable transportation, such as, public buses, light rail, bicycles and walking – mining sand for concrete is essential for construction. Especially, when trying to cope with destruction caused by earthquakes or floods. Building in concrete seems like an inevitable choice for relative resilience. However, the increasing use of concrete, and sand mining, makes cities more vulnerable and destroys ecosystems that support life. Read about this Israeli desert sand dunes being cleared for concrete.



Like in every story, there may be a happy end in this story too: recycled glass. Recycled glass is obtained from recycling old and waste glass. Glass can be recycled endlessly without affecting quality and purity, through crashing, melting and blending with other materials. Unlike desert sand, recycling glass is an acceptable replacement to sea sand for construction.

Deep sea mining and killing the seas so you can build

How much of this dome house in Santorini is built from sand?

The recycled glass market is estimated at $1.1B USD. It is low carbon, requires lower energy consumption, lower melting temperature, and less wear and tear on the manufacturing furnace. In terms of volume it is estimated at about 40,000 tons annually.

From grassroots initiatives like the recycling program “Glass Half Full” in Louisiana, to major industries, recycled glass is widely used in the food and beverages, automotive, healthcare, aerospace and defense industries. It is also used in construction. To provide more recycled glass for construction, an increase in the practice of glass recycling, is needed. More government and municipal initiatives and regulations in waste management are needed, raising public awareness and encouraging more initiatives in that direction by local industries.



Many cities today are engaged in urban renewal. This involves extensive demolition of existing buildings. Yet, with a disappointingly low rate of recycling and reclaiming of old materials, such as glass. Regulating demolition – and increasing refurbishment and retrofit, would considerably reduce construction waste, and wisely utilize the embodied carbon from producing these products in the first place. Less demolition would also reduce the need for new construction and use of concrete and sand.

Related: Peak sand

There is no doubt that the debate is relevant and urgent today. Not only, among architects and designers. But, among municipalities as well. With recycling rates ranging from 10 to 90%, there is a long way to go to reach 50% reduction in carbon by 2030 and zero carbon by 2050. And to reduce waste, particularly construction waste, estimated at one third of total waste.

Deep sea mining and killing the seas so you can build Superuse Studio

A Superuse Studio project reusing waste wood in new creative uses

Architectural practices, such as the Dutch Superuse Studio and architect Thomas Rau, are leading the way on circular design in small and large scale projects, materials passports for buildings and reuse of waste, from wood to wind turbines at the end of their lifetime (20 years).

Deep sea mining and killing the seas so you can build

A Super Reuse studio circular economy project using CNC waste as building façade

It is time for other architects and designers to take the lead too. To seriously reconsider the impact of design and construction on the planet. To consider only specifying construction methods that are local, low-carbon, low-impact and circular. Even start putting a cap on construction, densifying and utilizing existing buildings and reducing the floor area of modern apartments, as alternative construction methods and materials are becoming limited and the need to reduce the carbon footprint of construction is becoming imperative.

Deep sea mining and killing the seas so you can build

Thomas Rau: Triodos Bank Headquarters | Photography: Bert Rietberg

The debate on the impact of the construction industry is complex yet essential. It certainly must engage professionals more than just designing planters on the balconies or the roofs, or specifying recycled wood for façade facing. These are nice gestures, but view them more like a “greenwash”. And compare them to the unregulated and unprecedented destruction of life and ecosystems taking place with every single new concrete formwork.

Deep sea mining and killing the seas so you can build Elias Messinas, Ecoweek

Elias Messinas

Elias Messinas is a Yale-educated architect and urban planner, creator of ECOWEEK and Senior Lecturer at HIT. He completed this year the interior restoration of an historic synagogue in Greece, based on circular practices. Although small in scale, it reduced waste, new raw materials and the budget by nearly 50%.


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