Prerequisites and Barriers to
Implementing 3R Policies



Hari Srinivas
Concept Note Series E-094. March 2015.


With national and local governments, the private sector and civil society entities placing increasing emphasis on sustainable development , the 3R Approach can be an effective tool to support their efforts towards achieving the goals of sustainable development. A number of factors are critical in influencing the effectiveness of the 3R Approach. These include enabling policy framework; education and raising awareness of all concerned stakeholders; and capacity building and technology support, including human resources, technology, finance and other inputs.

A critical aspect that cuts across the above three factors relates to the acceptance and implementation of the 3R concept and related policies by countries and entities adopting the 3R Approach.

A number of problems exist in facilitating the smooth uptake of 3R policies and strategies. Key among them is the gaps in information and practical application of solutions - access to appropriate and useful information, and of translating problems faced by industry into research priorities (and vice versa - implementing innovative research outputs on the ground). Barriers to concrete implementation of 3R policies and strategies also exist, which will hinder broader application. These barriers are related to policy, information, capacity building, financial and socio-cultural issues. Ways and means to overcome the barriers will have to be identified, using enabling measures to increase the application of 3R policies and strategies.

Strategic Elements for Future Activities

The success of 3R policies and strategies will largely depend on the right mix of policies and programmes implemented at the local level. As the Japanese experience has shown, the key spheres of action will revolve around governance, education, technology and finance.

The main strategic issues that need to be addressed are:

  1. Governance issues include policy instruments such as laws, legislation, rules and procedures, and developing an enabling environment where market-based instruments can also facilitate uptake of the 3R concept. Developing innovative financing schemes that promote investment in 3R implementation, easy access to 3R dedicated funds etc. are also important issues to be covered here. These issues are primarily the responsibility of governments at the national and local levels.

  2. Education and awareness building issues among all concerned stakeholders, and the need for comprehensive networking among them at the local level. These issues focus on the provision of appropriate and timely information to decision makers, targeting stakeholders in the public and private sectors, but also communities and consumers alike. These issues are primarily the responsibility of universities and research institutions, non-governmental organizations, and citizens and community groups.

  3. Capacity building and technology support issues are important to ensure that the appropriate solutions are used in industrial, manufacturing and market activities, and technologies used have a minimum impact on the environment, producing the least amount of wastes possible. These will also include building human resources, decision-making capacities and structures, and other inputs. These issues are also primarily the responsibility of business associations, business intermediary organizations and professional institutions.

In developing a comprehensive 3R programme, it will be important to enable different organizations and institutions (with different kinds of resources and working on different issues), to carry out activities within their respective niches, but achieving together common 3R goals of a life-cycle economy.

Considering the broad nature of 3R policies and strategies, the focal areas and activities of different partners will have to be understood.

Inter-governmental organizations, including UN organizations, have a critical cross-cutting and supportive role to play in partnering with the above entities to carry out their activities, and at a broader level, to lend credibility to the 3R concept by providing accurate and timely information access.

For local and national governments, these could be:

  • To build capacity and commitment through knowledge management
  • To develop an enabling policy framework to further the 3R concept including economic and market based instruments
  • To satisfy MEA obligations and national/international commitments, as a part of their sustainability efforts
  • To facilitate and provide accurate and timely access to information to all stakeholders

For business, trade and industry partners the strategic elements that could guide their commitment and contribution to the 3R concept are:

  • To facilitate economic development by creating markets around 3R policies
  • To provide resources (technology, finance, and market) for facilitating the implementation of 3R policies
  • To interact and network with other entities undertaking 3R activities, including end-users and consumers, and find new business opportunities
  • To ensure proper implementation of available resource efficient technologies
  • To develop leading edge technologies and products
  • To support corporate 'green' trends and commit to a sustainable future

For civil society entities, a number of strategic elements will guide their activities:

  • To influence market trends by making sustainable and green choices in their everyday lives
  • To support development and implementation of policy frameworks by local and national governments
  • To lead a sustainable lifestyle with minimum ecological footprints


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Contact: Hari Srinivas - hsrinivas@gdrc.org