The ISIE Foundation

ISIE Foundation Policy Plan
Version 2 November 2022


1. Broad goals of the ISIE Foundation 
2. Management and policy  
3. Operational goals of the ISIE Foundation for the next years
4. In Industrial Ecology everything is connected
5. Where does Industrial Ecology stand now?
6. How ISIE works as an organization
7. Strategy for ISIE’s future activities

1. Broad goals of the ISIE Foundation
1. The core goal of the Foundation is to support the International Society for Industrial Ecology in all its tasks, namely research and education in the field of Industrial Ecology and, furthermore, everything that is related to, belongs thereto and/or could be conducive to this in the broadest sense.
2. The operational goals of the ISIE Foundation connect to the strategic plans of the International Society for Industrial Ecology, see section 7 of this document.
3. The Foundation tries to achieve its goals, among other things, by structurally raising funds and managing them for the Society.
4. The ISIE Foundation aligns with the ISIE mission, and with its goals and planning.

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.

See broader discusion on this website of the mission, goals, governance, organization, and activities of the ISIE (

2. Management and policy

The ISIE Foundation is registered in the Netherlands. The official registration with the Dutch Chamber of Commerce can be seen at A translation of the deed of incorporation for the Foundation is available at

All ISIE activities and hence the activities of the ISIE Foundation are governed by Bylaws to assure reasonable, transparent and democratic functioning. See the governance documents on Bylaws in . The ISIE Foundation's statutes are in accordance with these Bylaws, and are part of them. ISIE and the ISIE Foundation must always be in good financial health, with outlays covered by income. The main sources of funding for the ISIE are currently the membership fees and conference revenues, with as yet a small role for donations. The ISIE Foundation can advance the donations flow into a main continuous flow of funding, also using the tax-exempt status for donations. The following options are developed:
     1. Small incidental donations
     2. Regular donations by written agreement
     3. Endowments
     4. Medium to large-scale donations, linked to specific projects.
Supporting poorer students, especially for visiting international conferences, will mainly be from small incidental donations, as by ISIE members.
Curriculum development and support of curriculum development will generally be from regular donations and endowments.

3. Operational goals of the ISIE Foundation for the next years
The operational goals of the ISIE Foundation follow the ideas and activities from the ISIE Development Board, see , with a focus on the financial aspects and from the Strategy of the ISIE, see section 7 in this document. The ISIE Development Board develops strategic advice to the ISIE and is active in their operational development when accorded. The ISIE Foundation will maintain some overlapping membership with the ISIE Board and the ISIE Development Board, to assure alignment in content.

The operational goals to be achieved in this Policy Plan for the next years include the following.
   1. To help expand the membership of the society, where currently the ISIE Conferences play a major role. New ways for expanding the   membership will be developed, also beyond students and academia.
   2. Make it possible for students from low-budget countries to attend conferences on the subject of Industrial Ecology, as by supplying travel grants and reduced conference fees.
   3. Help bring educational materials on the important role of Industrial Ecology to younger students and to a broader public, for example by developing short videos free for viewing.
  4. Help develop pre-university courses at secondary education level to introduce students to this essential subject, also helping support their study choices.
  5. Help develop courses at bachelor and master level as by providing course material, such as slides, videos and podcasts.
  6. Help develop educational material for the further development of industrial ecologists working in industry and government, as by support for the development of online courses.
  7. Help develop new subject domains for Industrial Ecology to better serve society regarding its physical basis, on top of the six domains already actively supported by ISIE, see on this ISIE website .
  8. Help develop MOOCs, massive open online courses, on main subjects of Industrial Ecology.
  9. Help organize an international summer school of industrial ecology (and provide travel support to attendees) and develop it into a regular event (e.g., biannual), also linked to goals 5, 7 and 8.

4. In Industrial Ecology, everything is connected

The physical basis of society relates to resources use and energy use, to all their functional applications, and to the environmental consequences of all activities in terms of waste flows and emissions to water, air, and soil. Substituting one resource for another will usually require some energy and some amount of all other resources. There are technical relations, with technologies developing towards reduced burdens, there are economic mechanisms at all scale levels, and there are feedback mechanisms to society from environmental damages, and improvements.

The current state of the world is moving towards resource constraints, ecological deterioration and deep climate change. Industrial Ecology is the core science to give insight in the underlying mechanisms of humanity’s use of resources and impacts on the environment, and to help guide public policy and private behavior into better directions.

5. Where does Industrial Ecology stand now?

Industrial Ecology has developed as an academic subject, in many major universities, on all continents. Courses, bachelor programs, and master programs have developed, as have PhD programs in many universities in all continents.

In 2001, the International Society for Industrial Ecology was founded, and has since grown to over 800 members.

The Society publishes the Journal of Industrial Ecology, which has achieved a high status.

The Society organizes bi-annual global conferences for its members, and a number of regional conferences.

Industrial Ecology is part of much ongoing modelling in several domains. For example, technology information is feeding into IPCC scenarios and ISIE members co-author the Global Resources Outlook of UNEP’s International Resource Panel. Current developments towards the Circular Economy are substantially supported from the IE domain, with clear support for several of the Sustainable Development Goals.

6. How ISIE works as an organization

The International Society for Industrial Ecology (ISIE) as a society has Members, a Board and an Executive Team, see As a non-profit society, the ISIE is a membership organization where most of the final decision-taking power rests with its members. The ISIE facilitates communication among students and scientists, engineers, policymakers, managers, and advocates who are interested in better integrating environmental concerns with economic activities.

The ISIE Board has to agree to the appointment of new members in the ISIE Foundation, and to changes in the Foundation statutes. The Foundation is to support the work of ISIE. In terms of content, ISIE currently has seven main subjects actively developed by members, in sections with membership (

1. Industrial Symbiosis and Eco-industrial Development
2. Sustainable Urban Systems
3. Socio-Economic Metabolism (SEM)
4. Environmentally Extended Input-Output Analysis (EEIOA)
5. Life-Cycle Sustainability Assessment (LCSA)
6. Island Industrial Ecology
7. Sustainable Circular Economy

With a view on future developments more sections may be developed (see below).

7. Strategy for ISIE’s future activities
ISIE holds a key position within the scientific establishment to address current and future global environmental challenges. These challenges demand systems thinking and a powerful toolset for sustainability assessment and implementation – topics we as Industrial Ecologists are experts in.

The organization of sections is currently mostly method driven, as displayed by the blue vertical boxes in the below graph.

Grand Challenges Graph

While collaboration and communication between method-driven sections exists, our collective impact can be leveraged by collaborating more strongly. Solving the main global environmental challenges requires the competencies of the entire ISIE, and not those of single sections alone. Joint activities on grand challenges will serve as unifying themes to exploit synergies, catalyze collaboration within the community and leverage visibility and ultimately policy impact.

Initial crosscutting sections within ISIE are shown in the green boxes in the graph: The sections on sustainable urban systems, islands and students work with all Industrial Ecology (IE) methods. Together with the members, five additional crosscutting themes were identified that ISIE should engage in. These mainly address grand environmental challenges (shown as orange boxes in the graph) as well as one crosscutting method-related section (light blue).

Grand Challenge 1: Reaching the SDGs with IE solutions
This topic was inspired by the Gordon Research Conference 2018 which demonstrated a great collection of IE contributions on this topic. As noted in the GRC 2018 program description, natural resource use and environmental impacts are directly or indirectly related to all Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), making the field of Industrial Ecology a core discipline for achieving the SDGs. With concepts and methods prioritizing sustainable actions in resource management, technological development, and policy-making, Industrial Ecology is uniquely positioned to quantify and resolve trade-offs between the various SDGs.

Grand Challenge 2: Sustainable circular economy
Setting up a sustainable circular economy is obviously a grand challenge ISIE can contribute to. All methodological sections already have the circular economy on their agenda, but to make a significant contribution to solving this challenge, all IE methods need to be combined. For example, overall material flows need to be understood and the performance of different scenarios with regard to various environmental impacts need to be assessed to come up with circular economy solutions that are sustainable. Looking only at one of these aspects in isolation may help to resolve some aspects of the circular economy, but only the joint contemplation can provide overall optimal outcomes. A new ISIE section on this topic has recently been approved by the board. In addition to exploiting synergies, the aim is to increase visibility and the perception of policy makers and industry that the ISIE provides the science for setting up a sustainable circular economy (see also

Grand Challenge 3: Transition towards sustainable energy systems
All ISIE sections deal with this topic. For instance, IE research helps to understand which human activities are related to which energy demands and environmental impacts. The breadth of environmental impacts considered is in contrast to other communities that only focus on one aspect, e.g. climate change. This puts ISIE into a unique position to come up with sustainable systems solutions that do not just shift problems, but have a comprehensive view and strive for overall sustainable solutions.

Grand Challenge 4: Sustainable supply of infrastructure, food, water, and energy for a growing population
A forward-looking activity on this grand challenge could address how to satisfy human needs and create human wellbeing for future generations without compromising the environment. As IE provides methods to model and understand both economic and environmental processes, ISIE is in the best position to tackle this challenge.

Cross-cutting method related section on “New digitalization technologies for IE research”
Digitalization, including among others big data and machine learning, is expected to substantially change our way of living as well as the capabilities to do research. It is well acknowledged that big data and data mining (including statistical and artificial intelligence techniques to gain knowledge of large and complex datasets) can be used both as “rich information” as well as for alternative modeling approaches in industrial ecology. Thus, data mining and machine learning offer opportunities for improving the modeling within the field of Industrial Ecology. In particular, data-mining methods can be useful to exploit extensive and complex data for understanding and improving the environmental performance of products, technologies and society as a whole. Therefore, big data and data mining offer opportunities for improving the modeling within the research field of Industrial Ecology, in particular with regard to enhancing the spatial, temporal and demographic level of detail. Intelligent algorithms are needed to master the data jungle and to better understand systems with the ultimate goal to improve our models and decision support tools. As it is at the core of ISIE to assess and anticipate environmental issues, industrial ecology should assume a key role in accompanying a responsible development of applications of artificial intelligence for environmental assessment, protection and improvement.

Activities of the new (and existing) sections
The new sections or working groups are envisioned to e.g. publish state-of-the-art documents on what IE can offer and contribute to a particular grand challenge or theme. Such documents could also include “good-practice guidelines”. Such publications would certainly have larger acceptance and impact than smaller papers of individual members. Sections also serve as a platform for connecting industrial ecologists to exchange ideas. Furthermore, thematic workshops or conferences are organized. This should include establishing direct contact to decision makers to disseminate findings. Finally, joint activities on educational material can secure the transfer of consolidated state-of-the-art knowledge. This could encompass all sections - method-oriented and crosscutting challenge-oriented ones. Educational material also came up in the past membership survey as one priority service that ISIE members expect. Many members and other stakeholders could profit from a well-done comprehensive set of educational material for various target audiences, disseminating IE methods, with their application to the grand challenges widely. This could include videos, presentation slides, online courses and more.