Over recent decades, the growing movement of goods and services across international borders has led to an increase in trade in a range of environmentally sensitive commodities, such as minerals, forest products, fish, and agricultural produce. At the same time, the world demand for manufactured goods has been growing rapidly, and the environmental and health impacts associated with the production, consumption of goods and the disposal of waste have taken on a new dimension and scale never seen before.
International pressure is mounting to decouple economic growth from environmental impacts, which will require improving the environmental performance of products throughout their life-cycles and more environmentally friendly methods of producing, processing and consuming natural resources.
Towards this end, the UN Environment Programme focuses on enhancing resource efficiency, reducing the environmental impacts of producing, processing and using goods and services, while also meeting human needs and improving wellbeing.
UNEP’s activities on resource efficiency in Europe include:
- Organic Agriculture for a Green Economy
- Promoting Environmentally Sustainable Transport in Central & Eastern Europe
The "Greening Economies in the Eastern Neighbourhood" (EaP GREEN) partnership project is an EU financed regional programme that is being implemented to assist six Eastern Partnership (EaP) countries in their transition to green economies. These six partner countries are Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Republic of Moldova and Ukraine.
The EaP GREEN Programme involves four international organisations that work together to provide comprehensive support to achieve the Programme’s objective: OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development), UNECE(United Nations Economic Commission for Europe), UNEP (United Nations Environment Programme) and UNIDO (United Nations Industrial Development Organization). Each organisation is working in its area of expertise to assist the EaP countries to strengthen the analysis, policy instruments and capacities needed to make the transition to a green economy.
In each of the EaP countries a lot of effort is being put in policies addressing Sustainable Consumption and Production (SCP)-relevant issues, albeit often in an isolated fashion and without enough coordination. The environmental policy instruments are quite diverse but in many cases their design needs further adjustment to good international practice.
Although the EaP GREEN Programme is regional, many of its activities are being implemented nationally and the results are being shared in various regional forums. Both policy support and demonstration projects are envisaged.