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Standard 7: Pollution Prevention and Resource Efficiency

The Pollution Prevention and Resource Efficiency Standard recognizes that in­creased industrial activity, urbanization, and intensive agricultural development often generate increased levels of​ pollution (78) to air, water, ​and land, and consume finite resources in a manner that may threaten people and the environment at the local, regional, and global level. Pollution prevention and resource efficiency are core elements of a sustainable development agenda and UNDP Projects must meet good international practice in this regard.​
This Standard outlines a project-level approach to pollution prevention and resource efficiency. Reduction of greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change is addressed in Standard 2: Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation.
  • To avoid or minimize adverse impacts on human health and the environment by avoiding or minimizing pollution from Project activities
  • To promote more sustainable use of resources, including energy, land and water

Scope of Application
The applicability of this Standard is established during the social and environ­mental screening and categorization process. Requirements of this Standard apply to Projects that (i) aim to improve existing waste management practic­es; (ii) generate or cause generation of solid, liquid or gaseous waste; (iii) use, cause use of, or manage the use, storage or disposal of hazardous materials and chemicals, including pesticides; and (iv) that significantly consume or cause consumption of water, energy, or other resources.
Pollution prevention: UNDP will ensure that Projects avoid the release of pollutants, and when avoidance is not feasible, minimize and/or control the intensity and mass flow of their release. This applies to the release of pollutants to air, water, and land due to routine, non-routine, and accidental circumstances. (79)
UNDP will ensure that pollution prevention and control technologies and practices consistent with international good practice (80) are applied during the Project life cycle. The technologies and practices applied will be tailored to the hazards and risks associated with the nature of the Project.

Upon request, UNDP will support countries to strengthen management and systems for improved pollution prevention, waste reduction, and chemicals management. (81)

Ambient considerations: To address adverse impacts on existing ambient conditions (such as air, surface water, groundwater, and soils), a number of factors will be considered, including the finite assimilative capacity of the environment, (82) existing and planned land use, existing ambient conditions, the Project’s proximity to ecologically sensitive or protected areas, the potential for cumulative impacts with uncertain and irreversible consequences, and strategies for avoiding and minimizing the release of pollutants.

Wastes: UNDP will ensure that Projects avoid the generation of hazardous and non-hazardous waste materials. Where waste generation cannot be avoided, Projects will reduce the generation of waste, and recover and reuse waste in a manner that is safe for human health and the environment. Where waste cannot be recovered or reused, it will be treated, destroyed, or disposed of in an environmentally sound manner that includes the appropriate control of emissions and residues resulting from the handling and processing of the waste material. If the generated waste is considered hazardous, (83) reasonable alternatives for its environmentally sound disposal will be adopted while adhering to the limitations applicable to its transboundary movement. (84) When hazardous waste disposal is conducted by third parties, UNDP will ensure the use of contractors that are reputable and legitimate enterprises licensed by the relevant government regulatory agencies and that chain of custody documentation to the final destination is obtained.

Hazardous materials: UNDP Projects will avoid or, when avoidance is not feasible, minimize and control release of hazardous materials resulting from their production, transportation, handling, storage and use. Where avoidance is not possible, the health risks, including potential differentiated effects on men, women and children, of the potential use of hazardous materials will be addressed in the social and environmental assessment. UNDP Projects will consider the use of less hazardous substitutes for such chemicals and materials and will avoid the manufacture, trade, and use of chemicals and hazardous materials subject to international bans or phase-outs due to their high toxicity to living organisms, environmental persistence, potential for bioaccumulation, or potential for depletion of the ozone layer. (85)

Pesticide use and management: For Projects involving pest management activities, the social and environmental assessment will ascertain that any pest and/or vector management activities related to the Project are based on integrated pest management approaches and aim to reduce reliance on synthetic chemical pesticides. The integrated pest/vector management programme will entail coordinated use of pest and environmental information along with available pest/ vector control methods, including cultural practices, biological, genetic and, as a last resort, chemical means to prevent unacceptable levels of pest damage. When pest management activities include the use of pesticides, pesticides that are low in human toxicity, known to be effective against the target species, and have minimal effects on non-target species and the environment will be selected. The health and environmental risks associated with pest management should be minimized with support, as needed, to institutional capacity development, to help regulate and monitor the distribution and use of pesticides and enhance the application of integrated pest management.

UNDP will ensure that the Project will not use products that fall in Classes Ia (extremely hazardous) and Ib (highly hazardous) of the World Health Organization Recommended Classification of Pesticides by Hazard. (86) WHO Class II (moderately hazardous) pesticides will not be used if the relevant agency or Implementing Partner lacks restrictions on distribution and use of these chemicals or facilities to handle, store, apply and dispose of these products properly, or if they are likely to be accessible to personnel without proper training and equipment. Pesticides will be handled, stored, applied and disposed of in accordance with international good practice such as the FAO International Code of Conduct on the Distribution and Use of Pesticides. (87)

Resource efficiency: UNDP will ensure Project implementation of technically and financially feasible and cost-effective measures (88) for improving efficiency in the consumption of land/soils, energy, water, and other resources and material inputs. (89) Such measures will integrate the principles of cleaner production into product design and production processes with the objective of conserving raw materials, energy, and water. Where benchmarking data are available for resource intensive Projects, a comparison to establish the relative level of efficiency will be undertaken.

For Projects with high water demand (generally grea​​ter than 5,000 m3/day), in addition to applying the resource efficiency requirements of this Standard, UNDP will ensure that measures are adopted that avoid or reduce water usage so that the Project’s water consumption does not have significant adverse impacts on others or to sensitive ecosystems.

​​(81) For example, assistance with applying the UNDP’s Guide for Integrating the Sound Management of Chemicals into Development Planning, available at​/.
(82) Assimilative capacity of the environment refers to the capacity of the environment for absorbing an incremental load of pollutants while remaining below a threshold of unacceptable risk to human health and the environment.
(83) As defined by international conventions or local legislation. Where local legislation and international conventions may diverge, the higher standard will apply. ​

(84) Transboundary movement of hazardous materials should be consistent with national, regional and international law, including the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal, available at, and the London Convention on the Prevention of Marine Pollution by Dumping of Wastes and Other Matter, available at For further guidance, the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM) is a policy framework to foster the sound management of chemicals, available at​.  
(85) Consistent with the objectives of the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants, available at, and the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer, available at Similar considerations will apply to certain World Health Organization (WHO) classes of pesticides.
(86) The WHO Recommended Classification of Pesticides by Hazard, available at

(87) FAO International Code of Conduct on the Distribution and Use of Pesticides, available at
(88) Technical feasibility means the proposed measures and actions can be implemented with commercially viable skills, equipment and materials, taking into consideration prevailing local factors such as climate, geography, demography, infrastructure, security, governance, capacity and operational reliability. Financial feasibility means the ability to apply sufficient financial resources to install the measures and maintain them in operation in the long term. Cost- effectiveness is determined according to the capital and operational costs and also the financial benefits of the measure, considered over its lifespan.

(89) Projects that may generate significant GHG emissions will also apply Standard 2: Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation.