Important changes occurred during the last two decades, which the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) in Johannesburg duly acknowledged. As a result, a shift towards Sustainable Consumption and Production (SCP) was noted, whereby greater emphasis is placed on the inter-linkages between consumption and production. Moreover, there is greater recognition that the inefficient and at times wasteful use of natural resources, including energy, water and materials, lies at the heart of the key environmental challenges, including climate change.
Recognizing that resource efficiency requires cleaner production and vice-versa, UNIDO and UNEP have moved towards Resource Efficient and Cleaner Production (RECP). RECP recognizes that CP methods and practices generate multiple benefits that are relevant to many of today’s most pressing global challenges, including:
- Mitigation of GHG emissions and adapting to climate change;
- Responding to increasing scarcity of water, fuels and other materials;
- Providing decent jobs; and
- Halting environmental degradation.
RECP, therefore, builds upon CP in accelerating the application of preventive environmental strategies to processes, products and services to increase efficiency and reduce risks to humans and the environment. RECP addresses the three sustainability dimensions individually and synergistically:
- Production Efficiency: optimization of the productive use of natural resources (materials, energy and water);
- Environmental management: minimization of impacts on environment and nature through reduction of wastes and emissions; and
- Human Development: minimization of risks to people and communities and support for their development.
UNIDO and UNEP launched in 1994 a joint programme to establish National Cleaner Production Centres/Programmes (NCPCs/NCPPs). An independent evaluation conducted in 2007/8 identified various ways to improve effectiveness, efficiency and sustainability of the Programme, in particular through strengthening of the programme strategy, utilization of programmatic funding and improvement of programme management. These issues have been addressed in the revised Programme Strategy for the Joint UNIDO-UNEP Programme on Resource Efficient and Cleaner Production (RECP).