Resource Efficient and Cleaner Production (RECP) Programme

March 17, 2019
Challenge The simultaneous global economic and environmental crises in recent years have brought into relief the urgent need to separate the unsustainable use of natural resources from economic growth based on industrial production patterns that have been largely unchanged since the industrial revolution. Today, governments and citizens alike see the importance of applying preventive environmental protection standards to industrial processes, products and services in order to bolster efficiency and reduce risks to humans and the environment. ( Towards a Solution In 2009, the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) collaborated to create the Joint Resource Efficient and Cleaner Production (RECP) Programme for Developing and Transition Countries to pave the way forward. The RECP Programme aims to ensure efficient, effective development, application, adaptation, scaling up and mainstreaming of resource-efficient and cleaner industrial production. The RECP concepts, methods, policies, practices and technologies work together to ensure the efficient use of natural resources, higher productivity, less waste, less risk to people and the environment, and greater well-being of workers and communities. The Programme facilitates the implementation of RECP methods and tools, including retrofitting production sites, introducing new technologies, phasing out hazardous materials, reducing waste and increasing efficiency with regard to the use of raw materials. The RECP Programme helps to make industries at the national, regional and global levels more efficient, productive, cleaner and safer. It is delivered through the Global Network for Resource Efficient and Cleaner Production (RECPnet), consisting of over 70 leading RECP service providers in more than 60 countries around the world. A global coordinator and a team of five coordinators for each regional chapter of RECPnet administer the system. The RECP approach applies preventive environmental strategies to processes, products and services to increase efficiency and reduce risks to communities and the environment through:
  • Multi-level interventions: macro (government, policy and legal frameworks), meso (providers of services, technologies and finance) and micro (businesses, consumers and civil society);
  • Complementary role definition: UNIDO and UNEP lead in implementing programme components;
  • Country-level engagement: UNIDO and UNEP facilitate joint programming and engagement at the country level;
  • Synergy and partnership: synergy and active coordination with bilateral and multilateral initiatives and broadened partnerships with the private sector and civil society;
  • Enhance existing capacities: active utilization of capacities of UNIDO-and-UNEP-established national cleaner production centres and other RECP service providers;
  • Multi-dimensional networking: through RECPnet, the programme is an effective platform facilitating knowledge transfer and experience-sharing;
  • Flexible funding mechanism: a two-tiered funding mechanism for programme activities and supportive projects allows flexibility and adaptability.
Thousands of enterprises have benefited from increased resource productivity and realized savings opportunities. Over $30 million have been raised in funds from multiple donors, over 50 national cleaner production centres have been established by UNIDO and UNEP, and over 70 RECP service providers from around the world have joined RECPnet. On the policy side, a number of countries have included RECP in national legal instruments. A comprehensive data-gathering exercise is currently under way to assess the aggregate environmental impact of the RECP Programme. These data are expected to be available by the end of 2017. RECP develops, trials and promotes the replication of environmentally sound technologies and sustainable product development. In particular, South-South cooperation allows for a quicker scaling of RECP solutions in developing and transition countries. Countries replicate RECP practices, build technical capacity, bring on board financial institutions to create green-credit/financing programmes, and advise government on the resource-efficiency regulatory framework. The most mature country-level RECP programmes become financially independent and sustainable. National and regional policies have come to include provisions to promote RECP. Scaling up efforts include four outcomes (a) RECP service delivery network: global RECP service delivery capacity enhanced through RECPnet, leading to effective networking and peer learning; (b) thematic RECP applications: implementation of RECP by businesses and organizations with demonstrable, verified resource use and environmental, economic and societal benefits; (c) RECP incentives: mainstreaming RECP in relevant government policies, regulations and enterprise finance, leading to an effective enabling environment; and (d) innovation capacity: strengthening national capacities to implement environmentally sound technologies and sustainable product development. UNIDO and UNEP jointly run the programme, with funding provided primarily by the Government of Switzerland. The main stakeholders are the over 70 members of RECPnet and the industries with which they work. Members share the results of their work, success stories, case studies and data through the RECPnet knowledge management system and online networks. Sustainable Development Goal target: 6.3, 6.4, 6.5, 7.1, 7.2, 7.b, 8.2, 8.4, 9.a, 9.b, 9.c, 11.3, 11.6, 11.b, 12.2, 13.1, 13.2 Countries / territories involved: Albania, Algeria, Argentina, Armenia, Bolivia (Plurinational State of ), Brazil, Bulgaria, Cabo Verde, Cambodia, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cuba, Czech Republic, Dominican Republic, Egypt, El Salvador, former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Georgia, Ghana, Guatemala, Honduras, India, Indonesia, Israel, Jordan, Kenya, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Lebanon, Lithuania, Mexico, Montenegro, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Nicaragua, Pakistan, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Russian Federation, Rwanda, Senegal, Serbia, South Africa, Sri Lanka, United Republic of Tanzania, Tunisia, Turkey, Uganda, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Viet Nam, Zimbabwe Supported by: Government of Switzerland, with contributions from Austria, Norway and Slovenia, the European Commission and selected multi-donor trust funds Implementing entities: UNIDO, UNEP Project status: Ongoing Project period: 2009-2017 URL of the practice: Contact: Name: Mr. Smail Alhilali, Officer-in-Charge, Industrial Resource Efficiency Division, Department of Environment, UNIDO Email: