RECP Concept

  1. Resource Efficiency and Cleaner Production (RECP)
  2. Changing global context
  3. RECP Network


1. Resource Efficiency and Cleaner Production

    RECP notion/definition 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;
  • 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:
ECONOMIC: Production Efficiency: optimization of the productive use of natural resources (materials, energy and water);
ENVIRONMENT: Environmental management: minimization of impacts on environment and nature through reduction of wastes and emissions;
SOCIAL: Human Development: minimization of risks to people and communities and support for their development.



    UNIDO and UNEP formulated a revised Resource Efficient and Cleaner Production (RECP) programme strategy for cooperation with NCPCs and NCPPs globally. The resulting Joint UNIDO-UNEP Programme on Resource Efficient and Cleaner Production (RECP) (see was approved for worldwide implementation in February 2009. RECP Programme focuses on multiple resource productivity and environmental benefits; creating human, technical and institutional capacities, with local ownership; and fostering the realization of enabling policies and strategies.

    Nevertheless, Cleaner Production(CP) definition developed in 1991 by UNEP is still commonly used: �CP is the continuous application of an integrated preventative environmental strategy to processes, products and services to increase efficiency and reduce risks to humans and the environment�. Several complementary CP techniques or practices are possible, ranging from low or even no cost solutions to high investment, advanced clean technologies.

A common distinction for CP implementation in developing countries is:

  1. Good Housekeeping: appropriate provisions to prevent leaks and spills and to achieve proper, standardized operation and maintenance procedures and practices;
  2. Input Material Change: replacement of hazardous or non-renewable inputs by less hazardous or renewable materials or by materials with a longer service life-time;
  3. Better Process Control: modification of the working procedures, machine instructions and process record keeping for operating the processes at higher efficiency and lower rates of waste and emission generation;
  4. Equipment Modification: modification of the production equipment so as to run the processes at higher efficiency and lower rates of waste and emission generation;
  5. Technology Change: replacement of the technology, processing sequence and/or synthesis pathway in order to minimize the rates of waste and emission generation during production;
  6. On-Site Recovery/Reuse: reuse of the wasted materials in the same process or for another useful application within the enterprise;
  7. Production of Useful By-Products: transformation of previously discarded wastes into materials that can be reused or recycled for another application outside the company;
  8. Product Modification: modification of product characteristics in order to minimize the environmental impacts of the product during or after its use (disposal) or to minimize the environmental impacts of its production.




2. Changing global context

    The need to address climate change has become even more real and urgent. The availability of water and other resources has become an immediate concern in a growing number of locations. These conditions converge around the key challenge of decoupling economic growth from the increasing consumption of natural resources and energy and the worsening pollution of the environment. Sustainable industrial development is urgently needed to increase health, income and quality of life, while reducing resource use, pollution, waste and impact on nature. UNIDO and UNEP have both recognized these challenges and responded with organization-wide initiatives to foster Green Industry and Green Economy, respectively.



    The NCPC Programme confirmed that industries in developing and transition countries have significant potential to reduce the material, energy and pollution intensity per unit of industrial output. This also reduces overall ecological footprints (carbon, water, etc.) while at the same time improving productivity and competitiveness. This is essential for the ultimate goal of decoupling of economic growth from increased resource use and further environmental degradation. The term Resource Efficient and Cleaner Production (RECP) was introduced to highlight this strategic opportunity for enterprises to simultaneously address productivity environmental and social imperatives.


3.1 Programmatic Approach

    UNIDO and UNEP incorporated the lessons learned from the NCPCs in their joint RECP programme strategy. The strategy was approved in 2009 for implementation. It supports the global imperative to decouple economic development from further environmental degradation and resource depletion. The Programme aims to improve resource productivity and environmental performance of businesses and other organizations in developing and transition countries.
The envisioned principal outcome is the widespread adaptation and adoption of RECP methods, practices, technologies and policies. The past decade has demonstrated that these are applicable and relevant. The challenge is now to scale-up their application so that they become common practice rather than isolated initiatives in a few selected enterprises.

The RECP Programme is implemented through four main intervention modules. Each covers several key activities and outputs:

  1. RECP Service Delivery Network: expanding, strengthening and further capacitating the network of NCPCs and other RECP service providers. This includes, intensive networking and knowledge management, expansion of RECP to new countries and supporting existing NCPCs to scale-up their activities and impacts;
  2. Thematic RECP Applications: implementation of RECP in enterprises and other organizations and monitoring of results, in particular on resource efficiency, waste and emission prevention and safe and responsible production;
  3. RECP Incentives: mainstreaming RECP into government policy and enterprise finance, to further incentivize enterprises and other organizations to implement RECP;
  4. RECP Innovation: strengthening and/or creating national innovation capacities to support the adaptation and adoption of Environmentally Sound Technologies and sustainable product developments that are appropriate in the national industry context.



    These components are implemented in flexible combinations to ensure effective support at the national, regional and global levels and further develop of RECP methods, tools, policies and technologies. This is achieved through:
• Global programme activities: these are carried out at the global level and provide a framework for regional and national activities. This includes review and assessment, tools development, capacity building and knowledge management.
• Substantive projects: these cover the implementation of the intervention modules in the programme countries through either country-specific projects aimed at creating or building institutional capacities or through thematic projects on e.g. resource efficiency, chemicals management or low carbon industry, which may cover multiple countries.



3.2 Networking and Knowledge Management

    Successful programme delivery is contingent on effective networking and knowledge management among NCPCs and other organizations that deliver RECP services. The First Global UNIDO-UNEP RECP Networking meeting was hosted by the Government of Switzerland in Luzern in October 2009. Participants decided to establish the RECP-Net. This is the global Network for RECP Promotion in Developing and Transition Countries. Its members are therefore those organizations that deliver RECP services in development and transition countries. UNIDO and UNEP, as the patron agencies of the RECP-Net, will provide support for the network through their joint RECP Programme.

    The RECP-Net aims to enable and contribute to the effective and efficient implementation of RECP. It also facilitates both South-South and North-South collaboration and transfer of RECP relevant knowledge, experiences and technologies.

The functions of RECP-Net will include:

  • Innovation and knowledge management;
  • Capacity building;
  • Advocacy;
  • Quality assurance and branding.


3.3 Good Organization, Management and Governance Practices for NCPCs

    NCPCs and other RECP Service Providers are expected to combine RECP service delivery for a private benefit to enterprises with a public good role of advocacy for RECP at the national level. The appropriate institutional framework to achieve this depends on national circumstances.

    To support NCPCs in their institutional development, good practices for organization, management and governance were identified and reviewed in collaboration with NCPCs in China, Guatemala, Slovakia, South Africa, Tanzania and Vietnam.

    This revealed five key good practice elements, namely:

  • Strategy: clarity on vision, activities and necessary resources;
  • Autonomy: ability to determine own strategy, define own activities and control own finances, each within the boundaries of the mandate as reflected in mission and vision statements;
  • Operational Management: business processes and systems that ensure optimal use of resources for achieving the strategy;
  • Business: identification of client needs and development of services and other products to meet these;
  • Expertise: capturing and retaining expertise within the organization and ensuring its effective use in service delivery.

    Good Practice Elements For each of these, practical suggestions have been developed that NCPCs can consider for strengthening their management, organization and governance.