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UNIDO has prepared and published over one hundred publications, papers, manuals and guidelines, primarily aimed at technical experts and policy makers in developing countries, though many are used by sector-related institutions and development organizations elsewhere.

The website is intended to provide an easy access to information sources on the leather, footwear and leather products industry, as well as to UNIDO publications related to the leather sector in one place, including earlier publications that were previously only available in hard copy.

UNIDO has been dealing with specific problems of the leather industry more than four decades since its early years. The projects have focused on improving capabilities and performance in the collection of hides and skins, in leather processing (tanning), and in the manufacture of footwear and other leather products (such as leather goods, gloves, leather garment, upholstery and sports goods). Most successful programs in the leather sector: Environmental protection and pollution control including industrial safety directly related to leather processing and leather products manufacturing through the: ▪ Waste minimization and conversion of solid wastes into saleable by-products. ▪ Design, construction, and operation of tannery Effluent Treatment Plants (ETPs) with particular emphasis on common, low cost systems for SME clusters (CETPs). ▪ Handling and safe disposal of solid wastes and sludge. Direct assistance to industrial units and developing human resources by: ▪ elaborating and implementing comprehensive professional training systems; ▪ establishing and/or rehabilitating national, (sub)regional and international training-cum-service institutions; ▪ implementing experts meetings, workshops, seminars and special training courses in design, technology and management related areas; ▪ initiating, organizing and monitoring cooperation among training, service and Research & Development centres operating in developing and industrialized countries; ▪ benchmarking and evaluating business opportunities, finding or establishing markets (niches), building product ranges, improving production methods and product quality, enhancing productivity, and developing labour and managerial skills. Global forums – UNIDO Leather and Leather Products Industry Panel and publications: ▪ The main objective of the Leather Panel is to elaborate topics and to produce discussion papers for the consultations, but also as tools for the project implementation (e.g. training material, various publications etc.); ▪ Leather Panel members is an unique mixture of 16-22 reputed specialists in leather processing (tanning), footwear and other leather products manufacturing, equipment suppliers, distribution (trading), related pollution control, quality testing and training institutions working in private companies, Government agencies and trade associations, various types of institutions, trade press; ▪ Several documents produced for and discussed in panel meetings are now used as reference materials worldwide (e.g recent Carbon Footprint study for the leather industry presented during the 18th LPM); ▪ The panel is also very useful for preparation of project proposals/ideas and establishing contacts between UNIDO and relevant leather organizations; ▪ Global forums, e.g. Leather Panel, publications, Expert Groups Meetings provides UNIDO much needed visibility. The Main strengths, advantages and features of the UNIDO Leather operations are: □ technical orientation in formulation and execution/implementation of assistance programmes addressing problems on the "shop-floor level" and offering practical solutions in product development, technology, production control and marketing; □ integrated programme approach on the global, sub/regional and national level in addressing the actual needs of developing countries in technical assistance, i.e. providing services dealing not only with the mainstream of the technology, but also giving sufficient attention to the sectoral strategies, (physical and human) infrastructure, support industries, environment protection (including legislation), marketing and management; □ output orientation providing visible and measurable results in the assisted production units and institutions; □ direct involvement of staff members in projects by performing specific expert's jobs as well as authors/lecturers in international scientific meetings, congresses etc; □ pilot solutions that bring about the much needed multiplication effect and that are applicable beyond the direct recipients' plants; □ extensive training of recipients of TA in different forms: on-the-job, national/regional, workshops, panel discussions; □ practical technical papers, manuals, guides, and studies on specific issues in the sector.

The objective of the study prepared in 2007 for the 16th UNIDO Leather Panel was to evaluate the continuous growth of the China/Vietnam competition in the footwear sector, to assess the situation of the industry in the rest of the world, to come up with possible future scenarios and to propose strategies/actions for enhancing the competitiveness of developing countries. 

Under the Regional Programme for pollution control in the tanning industry in South-East Asia UNIDO has been actively looking for methods to improve conventional treatment processes which simultaneously reduce the nitrogen content and give the possibility of dealing with TDS/chlorides present in the effluent. The following technologies relating to the issues mentioned were implemented in pilot demonstration units:

  •  Mechanical/manual removal of excess salt from wet salted hides and skins
  • Reverse osmosis (RO) of treated tannery effluent
  • Improved solar evaporation
  • Carbon dioxide (CO2) deliming in a small scale tannery to reduce ammonical nitrogen
  • Constructed wet land treatment system (reed beds) possibly resulting in nitrification/denitrification
  • Ultrafiltration

A study with preliminary estimates of costs of multistage evaporation system to recover salt from reject generated by RO has also been prepared.

In another study, the scope of replacement of secondary clarifier in the biological treatment stage by ultrafiltration has been assessed. (Mladen Bosnic, December, 1997).

This report deals specifically with ultrafiltration.

The publication by the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), “Making private standards work for you: A guide to private standards in the garments, footwear and furniture sectors”, outlines a strategic approach for suppliers in developing countries. Private standards, also known as business values, norms, ethics, codes, principles or morals, are considered to be one of the ways of promoting social development and environmental sustainability in global value chains. Some estimates suggest that more than 1,000 codes of conduct and management systems exist. But most companies in developing countries do not have much tangible information. The guidebook was funded by the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (Norad) and developed in collaboration with the Dutch Centre for Promotion of Imports from developing countries (CBI). The guidebook is available in English, French and Spanish, and can be downloaded here:

This book has been written by Mr Alan Hart specifically to Inform Instructors in footwear production at Central Footwear Training Centres, Agra and Madras, of the teaching methods most widely adopted for successful student development on British BTEC Certificate and Diploma Courses. The contents have a wide application, beyond the immediate Interests of footwear technology, for teachers engaged with practical courses for industry and commerce, where the object IS for students to learn and practice technical skills, as well as to acquire knowledge and the confidence to think for themselves and to make management decisions. The paper was presented during the 12th UNIDO Leather and Leather Products Panel in Teheran/Iran August 1995


Leather industry is a strategically important sector for the economic and industrial development of many African countries. It has an abundant and renewable resource base in Africa’s large population of cattle, sheep and goats; it has a great employment potential, especially in the downstream part (manufacture of footwear & leather goods). However, there are major obstacles to overcome to realize its potential. Possibly the main problem are poor flaying and preservation practices and inadequate collection infrastructure. This guide is designed to be used by development agencies, policy makers, industrialists, financiers, investors, traders and farmers to open up new opportunities for better utilization of hide & skins resources and increasing the added value along the processing chain.

Due to climatic conditions the scope for green processing is limited in many countries, sodium chloride is widely used to preserve raw hides and skins. It contributes to a high volume of total dissolved solids (TDS) in the soak waste liquor. No commercially viable technology for treating effluent has been developed to date. A large amount of the salt sticking to the hide and skin surface can be removed by shaking the hides mechanically or manually.
Within the framework of the UNIDO regional programme for pollution control in the tanning industry in South-East Asia, a pilot demonstration unit was set up to demonstrate different options for

(a) desalting hides and skins prior to soaking and

(b) reusing dusted salt in the pickling operation after purifying the salt recovered.

This report covers the demonstrations carried out during the period January 1997 to February 2001 of desalting of salted raw stock and use of the recovered salt in pickling.

UNIDO through its Regional Programme for Pollution Control in the Tanning Industry in South-East Asia has been actively looking for solutions to tackle saline tannery effluent. The following technologies have been tested at pilot scale demonstration units (PDUs):

  • Mechanical / manual removal of excess salt from wet salted hides and skins
  • Reverse osmosis (RO) of treated tannery effluent
  • Improved (accelerated) solar evaporation
  • Recycling of floats in the beamhouse
  • Use of ultrafiltration in tannery effluent.

This report provides preliminary estimates of costs of setting up a multistage evaporation system for recovery of salt from the concentrate (reject) resulting from the Reverse Osmosis (RO) of treated effluents..

The main objective of this survey presented during 14th UNIDO Leather Panel in Zlin/Czech Republic is two fold: to clarify actual differences in direct manufacturing costs of footwear production in selected countries and to review the proportion of different cost components/structures in the case of comparable labour intensive products such as footwear and/or its upper. As styles vary considerably (mainly due to fashion and market demands) and systems of costing used in different parts of the world are far from being uniform, a common scheme of costing had to be established. This was based on more or less standard types of shoe styles and on a suggested, simple cost computation algorithm.

Paper presented during the 12th UNIDO Leather and Leather Products panel 1995 provides an overview about the professional training. Conclusion is that, there is no reason for having different training programmes in industrialized and developing countries, so the creation of a uniform syllabus for the leather, footwear and other leather products is not only an opportunity but also a necessity - not to mention the financial rationale (economic scale of printing text books, producing illustration materials and training software).