A key approach of the world’s leading environmental institutions focusing on CP promotion such as UNEP and UNIDO is the life cycle perspective. By reducing the environmental impact of goods and services at every stage, from raw material extraction and transportation to manufacturing, distribution, use and disposal, we can achieve more wellbeing with less material consumption. This enhances our potential to meet human needs while respecting the ecological carrying capacity of the Earth.

This is closely related to the decoupling concept used in UNEP: decoupling economic growth from resource use and environmental degradation – or doing more and better with less. Reforms in government policies, changes in private sector management practices and decisions, and increased consumer awareness are needed to achieve decoupling.

The tools which world’s leading environmental institutions offers to support our countries in mainstreaming and supporting uptake and implementation of resource efficiency, sustainable consumption and production patterns and green economy are:

  • Studies and analysis of trends in current resource efficiency and consumption and production patterns
  • Policy framework for the cooperation of resource efficiency / SCP actions and policies, ensuring the integration of consumption and production issues in sustainable development, strategies and policies as well as in environmental conventions and agreements
  • Economic analysis and scoping studies on green economy, defined as one that results in improved human well-being and social equity while significantly reducing environmental risks and ecological scarcities
  • International expert networks and platforms, and links with technical and policy bodies and government agencies
  • Sector specific handbooks, methodologies and policy support documents
  • Capacity building tools for sustainable management, operations approaches and product choices
  • Information exchange community on adoption of resource efficient and sustainable production patterns


The four elements of cleaner production are:

  1. The precautionary approach – potential polluters must prove that a substance or activity will do no harm;
  1. The preventive approach – preventing pollution at the source rather than after it has been created;
  1. Democratic control – workers, consumers, and communities all have access to information and are involved in decision-making;
  1. Integrated and holistic approach – addressing all material, energy and water flows using life-cycle analyses.