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Greening Industry, Saving Water in North Africa

Charles Arthur's picture
UN Industrial Development Organization

Editor of UNIDO's magazine, Making It: Industry for Development. Making It is a quarterly magazine to stimulate debate about global industrial development issues. It discusses the role of...

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  • Mar 23, 2016
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Igor Volodin introduces a programme demonstrating the benefits of adopting best available techniques, cleaner production technology, and appropriate environmental management and accounting practices

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Green industry is an approach that realizes the potential for industries to decouple economic growth from excessive and increasing resource use, thereby reducing pollution and generating additional revenues. It foresees a world where industrial sectors will minimize waste in every form, use renewable resources as input materials and fuels, and take every possible precaution to avoid harming workers, communities, climate, or the environment. Green industries will be creative and innovative, constantly developing new ways of improving their economic, environmental and social performance.

Enterprises in developing countries and countries with economies in transition are facing numerous challenges in their effort to maintain or increase their competitiveness on the local market and access to international markets with good-quality products, comply with environmental standards and reduce operational costs. In order to assist companies in dealing with such challenges and to direct them towards the “green industry” paradigm, the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) designed a specific methodology, the Transfer of Environmentally Sound Technology (TEST), which exists as both an integrated approach and a global programme.

TEST combines the essential elements of tools like Resource Efficiency and Cleaner Production, Environmental Management Systems and Environmental Management Accounting, and applies them on the basis of a comprehensive diagnosis of enterprise performance. As a result of the customized integration and implementation of these tools and their elements, the key output is the adoption of best practices, and new skills and management culture, as well as corporate social responsibility, enabling the company to carry on the improvement journey towards sustainable entrepreneurship.

The first TEST pilot programme was launched in 2000 in the Danube River Basin. Since then, TEST has been replicated in several regions worldwide within industrial hot spot areas, contributing to the prevention of the discharge of industrial effluents into international waters (rivers, lakes, wetlands and coastal areas) and thereby protecting water resources for future generations.

In 2009, UNIDO launched the MEDTEST initiative with the financial support of the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and the Italian government to promote the transfer and adoption of cleaner technology in industries in three countries of the Southern Mediterranean region: Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia.

The project aimed to demonstrate the effectiveness of introducing best practices and integrated management systems in terms of cost reduction, productivity increase and environmental performance. A pool of 43 manufacturing sites – mostly small and medium-sized enterprises – across seven industrial sectors in Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia actively participated in MED TEST during 2010-2011.

A core objective of the MED TEST initiative was building national capacity. This was achieved by extensive training and a technical assistance programme that targeted six national institutions and service providers and 30 local professionals, in addition to the staff of the 43 demonstration companies. As a result, a network of local resources is now engaged in promoting the TEST approach and will be able to extend the experience gained to other industries in the region. The active participation of the staff of the demonstration companies in the training and in the implementation of the project ensures the sustainability of all identified actions at company level, as well as that of
newly developed projects.

IGOR VOLODIN is Deputy to the Director of the Environment Branch at the United Nations Industrial Development Organization.

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