Resilient, carbon neutral growth and circular economy

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Efforts to recover from the impact of the pandemic provide an opportunity to advance momentum towards carbon neutrality, building greener, more sustainable economies. Two prerequisites for industry to flourish in a sustainable manner are the availability of affordable and clean energy, together with improved resource efficiency.

UNIDO is working to build a sustainable system that enables growth while protecting the environment and promoting inclusivity. The Organization does so by providing technical and policy advice on the adoption of cleaner, more efficient energy systems, advocating for the transition towards low carbon economies and for the adoption of circular economy approaches. Building back from the pandemic, the global community has the opportunity to build a more resilient, inclusive and sustainable future.

Research & articles

  • COVID-19: Long-term support for biotech yields vaccine promise in Cuba
    How foreign investments can drive efforts towards a green recovery

    New survey data shows stabilizing investors outlook and increasing focus on environmental sustainability.

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  • COVID-19: Long-term support for biotech yields vaccine promise in Cuba
    Accounting for long-term climate impact and economic resilience after the pandemic

    COVID-19 stimulus packages must carry energy efficiency incentives to help industries and economies rebound.

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  • Green industrial policy to power a green recovery
    Green industrial policy to power a green recovery

    Interview with Li Yong, Director General of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization

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  • Cleantech entrepreneurs driving a green recovery in Barbados
    Cleantech entrepreneurs driving a green recovery in Barbados

    Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Eastern Caribbean island nation, famed for its beautiful landscapes, pristine white-sand beaches and temperate climate, attracted around a million tourists each year. But with travel restrictions across the globe, tourism all but dried up, and the country’s economy has seen a dramatic downturn.

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  • COVID-19: Long-term support for biotech yields vaccine promise in Cuba
    The case for a climate-smart update of the African mining vision

    The localization of mineral-based global value chains and clean energy presents an opportunity for Africa to industrialize.

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  • COVID-19: Long-term support for biotech yields vaccine promise in Cuba
    The Circular Economy: From waste to resource through international trade

    Advancing the global circular economy agenda requires understanding its linkages with other dimensions of the global production system.

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Related publications

Examples of activities

The size of the world’s population continues to grow, which will also drive the demand for food, consumer goods and urban infrastructure and the energy needed to produce them to levels unheard of in human history. It is against this backdrop that this project aims to support stakeholders within selected value chains to adopt and transform towards circular economy practices through industry collaboration, public-private dialogue and capacity development. The project recognizes that the application of circular economy practices requires coherent practices by all actors of the value chains, from SMEs to leading companies in global value chains. Further, the project also includes components such as contributing to sustainable growth, low carbon and climate resilient development and decent job creation. Finite resources and climate issues require moving from a ‘take-make-dispose’ society to a carbon-neutral, environmentally sustainable, toxic-free and fully circular economy.

Find out more on the OpenData platform.

In a global project covering four countries in the Asian, Central and Eastern European and Latin American regions, UNIDO, with the generous support of Switzerland, is implementing the Global Eco-Industrial Parks Programme (GEIPP). The objective is to demonstrate the viability and benefits of Eco-Industrial Park approaches in scaling up resource productivity and improving economic, environmental and social performances of businesses and thereby contribute to inclusive and sustainable industrial development in the participating developing and transitioning economies. UNIDO takes a holistic approach in their Eco-Industrial Parks (EIP) interventions, targeting (a) individual companies; (b) EIP management; and (c) local and central management, increasing the chances for successful implementation. Among their many benefits, eco-industrial parks promote resource efficiency and circular economy practices, also helping to bridge the gap between cities and industries by making a significant contribution to sustainable cities.

Find out more on the OpenData platform and on the UNIDO Website.

In SADC and EAC regions, UNIDO is implementing the Energy Efficient lighting and appliances project, which aims at contributing to improved access to sustainable energy and mitigate negative externalities of the energy system. More specifically, the project aims to create market and institutional conditions to enable a transformation of the sector to stimulate increased diffusion of efficient lighting products and appliances across all sectors. The project brings regional support to private sector-led activities, leading to the increased use of energy efficient high-quality lighting and appliances through regional regulatory and trade harmonization interventions, while also considering inclusiveness of all project activities to assure socially sustainable project outcomes. In the regions, this project is of particular importance as access to energy services and electricity-based services is closely linked to opportunities for economic development and delivery of social services.

Find out more on the OpenData platform.

In South Africa, UNIDO is implementing the project “Industrial Energy Efficiency Improvement in South Africa through Mainstreaming the Introduction of Energy Management Systems and Energy Systems Optimization”, a project that in 2020 won the highest international accolade  for an energy programme - the International Energy Project of the Year - awarded by the Global Association of Energy Engineers. The project supports increased and sustained energy efficiency within industrial and selected commercial sectors and aims to bring about increasing investment in industrial energy efficiency. This project in South Africa serves as an international pilot project and UNIDO has developed similar projects and programmes in 17 other developing and emerging economy countries worldwide.

Find out more on the OpenData platform.

India is one of the major nations with growing energy usage and subsequent greenhouse gas emissions. Within the Indian economy, in terms of primary energy consumption, industry remains the largest consumer of energy, within these industries there are a number of micro-, small-, and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) operating that have a high demand for energy.. MSMEs mobilize local capital and skills and are important for job creation and value added, particularly in rural areas and small towns. It is within this context that UNIDO has developed a project that aims to develop and promote a market environment for introducing energy efficiencies and enhanced use of renewable energy technologies in process applications in 12 selected energy-intensive MSME clusters in India, in order to improve the productivity and competitiveness of units as well as to reduce overall carbon emissions and improve the local environment.

Find out more on the OpenData platform.

Climate policies and networks

  • Private Financing Advisory Network (PFAN)
    Private Financing Advisory Network (PFAN)

    The primary obstacles to the large-scale deployment of low carbon, climate resilient technologies required to curb climate change are access to finance and limited pipeline of investment-ready projects. The Private Financing Advisory Network (PFAN), hosted jointly by UNIDO and the Renewable Energy a

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  • Climate Technology Centre and Network (CTCN)
    Climate Technology Centre and Network (CTCN)

    The primary obstacles to the large-scale deployment of low carbon, climate resilient technologies required to curb climate change are access to finance and limited pipeline of investment-ready projects. The Private Financing Advisory Network (PFAN), hosted jointly by UNIDO and the Renewable Energy a

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  • Industrial Energy Accelerator
    Industrial Energy Accelerator

    The burning of fossil fuels for energy consumption is among the largest sources of global greenhouse gas emissions worldwide. Thus, any effort to mitigate climate change must involve energy efficient strategies. Significant focus and attention is needed in the industrial sector, which accounts for m

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  • GN-SEC

    The Global Network of Regional Sustainable Centres (GN-SEC) accelerates the energy and climate transformation by creating economies of scale and spillover effects between countries. In partnership with Member States, Regional Economic Communities (RECs) and other key stakeholders, the centres work t

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  •  Global Cleantech Innovation Programme
    Global Cleantech Innovation Programme

    UNIDO, in line with its mandate, supports the transition to a sustainable energy path as a key solution to a climate resilient and economically sustainable growth. UNIDO also accords high priority to technology transfer and capacity building of industries, including small- and medium-sized enterpris

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  • 2022 (date TBC): Conference for Middle-Income Countries within the UNIDO workplan for partnering with MICs
  • Q3 2021 (date TBC): Series of webinars focused on Waste to Energy for Mexican local and state governments; and Circular Economy for Plastics for the Costa Rican government.
  • 12 July 2021:HLPF Side event on “Inclusive and Sustainable Industrial Recovery through Digital Transformation and the Circular Economy”
  • 5 - 7 July 2021: Vienna Energy Forum
  • 10 - 12 May 2021: Global Consultations on Circular Economy
  • Focus on the creation of productive capacities opportunities and the implementation of environmentally sustainable policies, in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic and a greener recovery. Input from the Regional Coordination Division for Latin America and the Carribean to the survey.

  • More information coming soon...

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    As part of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization’s (UNIDO) engagement with the 2021 High Level Political Forum, a high-level side event on “Inclusive and Sustainable Industrial Recovery through Digital Transformation and the Circular Economy” was organized.

    Read more here

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    The Vienna Energy Forum 2021 (VEF 2021) is designed to facilitate a multi-sectoral, multi-stakeholder and interdisciplinary dialogue on sustainable energy for inclusive development and productive capacities. Guided by the motto “Where Action Meets Ambition” and designed as the first virtual VEF, the 2021 edition will include a Youth Day on the 5th of July 2021, followed by the VEF on the 6th and 7th of July 2021.

    As a flagship platform designed to spur action, this year’s edition will bring together key stakeholders and experts to explore and deliberate on the key topics that advance sustainable development in the energy domain. Senior government representatives and leading experts will discuss key priorities, offer local perspectives, and highlight opportunities and potential solutions that also contribute to global climate action.

    The sessions will delve into key priorities, showcase projects, and highlight the action-oriented steps required to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030, helping to forge an inclusive pathway that leaves no one behind as we work to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050.

    Find out more here.

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    The global consultations on circular economy, held virtually from 10 to 12 May 2021, were co-chaired by Her Excellency Ms. Leonore Gewessler, Federal Minister for Climate Action, Environment, Energy, Mobility, Innovation and Technology of Austria, and Her Excellency Ms. Andrea Meza Murillo, Minister of Environment and Energy of Costa Rica.

    Across five sessions, more than 320 representatives from national governments, United Nations entities, intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations, the private sector and academia deliberated on the importance of circular principles and solutions to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and address the climate crisis, partnerships and initiatives to mobilize circular economy actors, policy frameworks and means of implementation to enable the transition to a circular economy.

    A procedural report on the global consultations will be submitted by the Director General of UNIDO to the forty-ninth session of the Industrial Development Board for consideration.

    Find out more here