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Permanent Monitoring Panel -
The Limits of Development

Members of the Panel:

Hiltmar Schubert (Germany)

Geraldo Serra (Brazil); K C Sivaramakrishnan (India); Margaret S. Petersen (USA); Christopher D. Ellis (USA); Juan Manuel Borthagaray (Argentina)

Associate Members:
Bertil Galland (Switzerland), Alberto Gonzales-Pozo (Mexico) 
Huo  Yu-Ping (China), Leonardas Kairiukstis (Lithuania)
Karl Rebane (Estonia), François Waelbroeck (Belgium)

Summary of the Emergency

Limits of development are the observance of limitations of ecological, economical and social developments in order to avoid emergencies to human beings in a global or regional sense. The PMP considers that sustainability is also an important part of its concern.

Priorities in dealing with the Emergency

The PMP has decided to monitor scientific results on the following subjects:

  • Use of renewable resources
  • Development of substitutes and technologies for non-renewable resources
  • Development of technologies to reduce emission, recycle or safely dispose of pollutants
  • Demographic growth
  • Urbanization

Workshop and Meeting Reports


Members and guests presented papers on the limits of development of the following megacities: Mexico City, New Delhi, Buenos Aires, São Paulo, and the Texas Triangle (Dallas - Houston - San Antonio). The meeting concluded that megacities are the locus of the main limits of development problems and should be considered as the main concern for the PMP monitoring


Water availability and scarcity were considered under many and different aspects, not only in the megacities mentioned, but also on the global and regional scales. It was easy to consider water as one of the most import issues to be considered in any approach to urban sustainability, but most problems nowadays can be solved with technological development or are stemmed by social constrains.


Considering the undeveloped and developing countries, as well as emerging economies, it was decided at the Rio 92 meeting to adopt the concept of sustainability together with, or instead of limits of development. The meeting considered many aspects of sustainability of development and decided to change its way of monitoring in order to adopt a new approach that includes sustainability.


This year's meeting theme is solid urban waste. Collecting, transporting and disposing of urban solid waste is becoming more and more complex, particularly because of the trend of modern societies to generate ever larger quantities of solid waste. Nowadays, in large urban areas, it is more and more difficult to find disposal space. The main tasks of our PMP are the definition of the emergency character of this problem and to monitor the scientific and technological results in the field of urban and territorial planning and management in order to find solutions.


Moving people, material, waste, information and energy, as well as organizing urban mobility will be the theme in 2003, as decided at the 2001 meeting.

Special Recommendations

The most difficult and intractable development limits and sustainability problems are in large urbanized areas. Therefore, the monitoring of development and sustainability problems, and of scientific and technological research results should concentrate on those large urbanized areas.