CAPE TOWN, South Africa (15 September 2017) — Over 400 representatives from industry, government, NGOs, civil society, research and academia gathered in Cape Town over the last two days to showcase the benefits of resource efficient and cleaner production (RECP) for the manufacturing industry.
Held under the banner of transitioning industry to a low carbon economy, the Industrial Efficiency Conference 2017 – organized by the National Cleaner Production Centre of South Africa (NCPC-SA) – sought to demonstrate how RECP creates resilience in individual companies and across entire industrial sectors, while simultaneously bringing a competitive advantage to industries otherwise faced with resource price volatility and resource scarcity.
In the opening plenary, Eustace Mashimbye, CEO of the advocacy group Proudly South African, underscored the importance of the manufacturing sector to jobs creation on the continent, noting that a healthy manufacturing sector creates jobs in other areas of the economy and improves a nation’s economic performance at large.
In over 20 focused breakout sessions, the conference addressed the topics of energy efficiency, industrial water efficiency, industrial symbiosis and waste, and RECP implementation, as well as cross-cutting themes such as productivity and trade, the role of small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), and green innovation. Each topic featured detailed case studies from within South African industry, as well as presentations and panel discussions on latest developments and trends.
Throughout the conference, targeted information was provided to industry representatives, helping to raise awareness of the benefits of RECP implementation, and detailing RECP assessments and training opportunities. The track record of NCPC-SA – which this year marked the 15-year anniversary of its establishment – was also highlighted, having helped achieve approximately R 73 million in energy, water and materials savings in 33 companies during a 12-month period ending in March 2017. Through RECP assessments, NCPC-SA additionally identified potential savings of R 383 million, per annum, in 128 manufacturing plants in South Africa.
The conference also presented a clear vision of how RECP dovetails with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and is central to reaching many of the quantitative targets to which national governments have committed in the context of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Ndivhuho Raphulu, NCPC-SA’s Director, unveiled a tool for industry developed by his centre which details actions, indicators and promotional opportunities to align companies’ strategies and activities with national and international development priorities. The tool will shortly be made publicly available through NCPC-SA’s website.
As of October 2017, Ndivhuho Raphulu will be joining the five-member Executive Committee of the Global Network for Resource Efficient and Cleaner Production (RECPnet), as the Regional Executive for the African Regional Chapter of the network. RECPnet’s role in raising the level of international cooperation on RECP implementation in developing and transition economies was also expanded on during the conference, with the RECPnet Secretariat Coordinator, Hassan Mehdi, outlining a vision of how RECPnet members can foster cross-border and cross-regional collaboration to scale up the implementation of RECP and help realize the 2030 Agenda.
The National Cleaner Production Centre of South Africa (NCPC-SA) is a national programme of the South African Government that promotes the implementation of resource efficiency and cleaner production (RECP) methodologies to assist industry to lower costs through reduced energy, water and materials usage, and waste management. It is hosted by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) on behalf of the Department of Trade and Industry.
RECPnet is a global network of leading RECP service providers launched by UNIDO and UN Environment dedicated to creating resilient manufacturing sectors in developing and transition economies through industrial upgrading based on RECP assessments.