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Unlocking opportunities


Food loss and waste is responsible for 8% of global greenhouse gas emissions. UNECE has developed an application, FeedUP@UN, to allow the systematic collection and analysis of data on food lost and resources saved along the food supply chain, helping to reduce losses and redistribute otherwise lost food. To provide policy guidance and help to quantify the misuse of resources a Code of Good Practice for Reducing Food Loss in Handling Fruit and Vegetables has been developed along with a food loss and waste measuring methodology for fresh produce supply chains.

Greenhouse gas emissions from textiles production amount to 1.2 billion tonnes annually, which is more than the emissions of all international flights and maritime shipping combined. Until now, lack of transparency in complex global value chains has remained a barrier to improving sustainability in the sector. UNECE has developed an industry-ready normative framework and a technical standard for full traceability of sustainable and circular value chains in the garment and footwear sector, as part of an EU-funded project. As technology promises to be a key enabler of transparent, open, efficient and innovative value chains, the toolbox is currently piloted in a blockchain system developed by the project, with more than 50 industry actors from 20 countries across the globe, covering the entire garment and footwear value chain, from field to shelf and beyond.

The UN Framework Classification for Resources (UNFC) facilitates comprehensive resource classification and management, addressing technical, social, environmental, and economic issues. With rising demand for the critical raw materials needed for the green energy transition in mobile appliances, electric vehicle batteries, or wind turbines, UNFC can help identify new regional and national production opportunities. The European Union has already used this tool for its Strategic Action Plan on Batteries, with 19 member states reporting on cobalt, lithium, nickel, and graphite. 

Internationally harmonized UNFC specifications for the assessment and reporting of renewable energy resources including geothermal, bioenergy, wind and solar will further help to scale up their use and channel increased investments.

UNECE recommendations to help scale up hydrogen use, together with policy support and cooperation, can aid the region’s sustainable energy shift. Combined with electricity from renewable sources, hydrogen – which can be used in transport, homes, industry and power generation – has the potential to replace hydrocarbons in the region by 2050.

Large scale deployment of Carbon Capture Use and Storage (CCUS) technology in the UNECE region would allow countries to decarbonise the energy sector and hard-to abate industrial sectors in the medium term to bridge the gap until next generation low-, zero-, or negative- carbon energy technologies become available. Captured CO2 can be used in a range of mineralization, chemical and biological processes, with applications in the industrial, steel, cement and chemicals sectors. In a future hydrogen economy, this captured carbon could be used to make many of the chemicals and plastics currently made using fossil fuels. UNECE-led regional cooperation can help countries scale up CCUS implementation.

According to the UN International Resources Panel, resource extraction and processing account for half of total greenhouse gas emissions, excluding those related to land use. Adopting circular economy principles offers a unique opportunity to improve resource efficiency and decarbonize our economies. From its leading normative work to policy support and platforms for cooperation, UNECE provides a variety of tools to facilitate the widespread adoption of circular economy approaches.