The Sustainable Manufacturing and Environmental Pollution (SMEP) programme has been established by the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) and is implemented in partnership with the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).
SMEP aims to generate cutting edge scientific evidence that can improve existing knowledge of the environmental health and socio-economic impacts of selected manufacturing sectors across target countries in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. The programme will also identify suitable technology-based solutions to address the most pressing environmental health issues associated with manufacturing in target countries, and invest in developing business processes and systems that will result in the uptake of pollution control solutions. In addition, the programme will address the issue of plastic pollution, focusing on identifying and supporting the development of solutions towards material substitution and enhanced biodegradation options.
FCDO has committed £20 million to the delivery of research and related interventions to meet programme objectives.
The SMEP programme was commissioned in mid-2019 and will run until the end of 2024.
Moving towards greener economies
Manufacturing processes in most developing countries are unsustainable in the long term for several reasons. Under this context, the SMEP programme aims to assist countries to improve the environmental and health impacts associated to manufacturing pollution, as well as improve economic efficiency of the targeted industry. These include outdated infrastructure, machinery and inefficient methods which generate high levels of pollution, carbon emissions and widespread environmental degradation, as well as inefficient use of energy and natural resources.
Environmental degradation and pollution have been directly linked to several life-threatening illnesses and chronic health problems among manufacturing workers in many developing countries. They are also responsible for affecting the health of the general population as a result of contamination of air, drinking water, soil, crops, livestock, fish and other resources. Equally important, some production processes hinder economic development because of low productivity outputs.
The programme will also focus on generating evidence and practical solutions to address the problem of plastic pollution in the ocean, an issue which has gained increased attention due to its adverse effects for the economy, ecosystems and human health.