Environmental protection in enterprises has been undergoing structural changes in recent years. The emphasis is shifting to preventive techniques that focus on the production processes themselves. Not only does this reduce the pollution load on the environment but it also makes good business sense, since waste and pollution are, in effect, wasted resources.
UNIDO helps promote this shift of focus through the establishment of National Cleaner Production Centres and by implementing other cleaner production projects, stressing the cost effectiveness of cleaner production, as well as its significant contribution to environmental protection. Particular emphasis is placed on the agro-processing sector in developing countries and countries with economies in transition.
While cleaner production can do much to reduce the waste and pollution generated by industrial processes, some residuals will nevertheless remain, and industry needs support to recycle or otherwise dispose of waste in an environmentally sound manner. Taking this into consideration, UNIDO assists countries to build up their environmental services sector, focusing particularly on recycling industries.
A case in point is electrical and electronic waste. As developing countries join the global information society, the quantity of obsolete electronic hardware is growing rapidly. The release of toxins into the environment from old computer and mobile phone equipment constitute a serious environmental and social concern. This is why UNIDO is intensifying its efforts to build national and regional capacities in the field of e-waste recycling and computer refurbishing services.
The levels of water consumption by the industrial sector will also continue to increase, as will the amounts and toxicity of the effluents it discharges into water bodies. This will become particularly critical in many countries, which are already suffering from shortages of water, shortages which might increase with climate change. UNIDO therefore also helps to protect water resources from the discharges of industrial effluents, to increase industrial water productivity and to reduce excessive water consumption by enterprises.
Finally, UNIDO seeks to improve industrial energy efficiency by contributing to the transformation of markets for energy-efficient products and services. To this end, UNIDO promotes the use of new energy management standards, accelerates investments by industries in energy system optimization measures, and increases the deployment of new energy efficient industrial technologies through technical, financial and policy advisory assistance.