UNEP's Resource Efficiency Programme

UNEP works to promote resource efficiency and sustainable consumption and production (SCP) in both developed and developing countries. The focus is on achieving increased understanding and implementation by public and private decision makers, as well as civil society, of policies and actions for resource efficiency and sustainable consumption and production. This includes the promotion of sustainable resource management in a life cycle perspective for goods and services.

International scientific assessments, such as the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, the Global Environmental Outlook and the 4th Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, make it increasingly evident the world cannot achieve sustainable economic growth without significant innovation in both the supply (production) and demand (consumption) sides of the market.

Decoupling economic growth from resource use and environmental degradation and creating the ‘space’ for poor people to meet their basic needs will require producers to change design, production, processes and marketing activities. Consumers will also need to provide for environmental and social concerns – in addition to price, convenience and quality – in their consumption decisions.

Economic growth and the development and human welfare gains it contributes to cannot be sustained with current consumption and production patterns. At the same time, a large share of the world population is still consuming too little to meet even their basic needs. Responding to this dual challenge will require a combination of new policies, redirected investment, application of environmentally sound technologies, international cooperation, and capacity building to reshape national economies as well as the global economy. UNEP is well positioned to facilitate and accelerate the shift to more resource efficient and sustainable consumption and production patterns. UNEP is building on its existing mandates, securing more synergies within the organization itself, and strengthening and extending partnerships with a broad range of public and private institutions and stakeholders. 

Given the breadth of the challenges and actions required, activities are focused on specific tools encompassing policies, market-based instruments and voluntary approaches, with emphasis given to some specific economic sectors. UNEP’s work focuses on four central themes:

  • strengthening and communicating the knowledge base for Resource efficiency (RE) and SCP;
  • building governmental capacity;
  • consolidating and extending partnerships with business and industry; and
  • influencing consumer choice.
  • UNEP is working with a range of partners to ensure that:
  • Resource efficiency is increased and pollution is reduced over product life cycles and along supply chains
  • Investment in efficient, clean and safe industrial production methods is increased through public policies and private sector action
  • Consumer choice favors resource efficient and environmentally friendly products.

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