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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.

These world-wide studies prepared quite some time ago by leading professionals to facilitate the work of UNIDO Leather Panel are still quite interesting. Some of the logic might be useful for making projections for the future of leather-based industry globally.

Reliable on- and/or off-line monitoring is essential for ensuring good performance of any effluent treatment plant; specific analysis are conducted either within the existing tannery process and quality control laboratory or (in the case of larger plants and certainly Common Efflent Treatment Plants, CETPs) in speicialized laboratories.

This manual (originally prepared in French and tranlated into English, Chinese and Spanish) provides a rather detailed overview of analysis, methods and equipment needed to conduct the main (C)ETP peformance tests. Suggestions about the type and frequencies of analysis are also given. Given the fact that the manual was prepared in 1994 it is highly recommendable to get acquainted with changes in procedures and equipment that took place since then.

Case Study prepared for the Conference on Ecologically Sustainable Industrial Development (ESID), Copenhagen, Denmark, 14 - 18 October 1991.

Grading of hides and skins by quality

Improvement of hides and skins quality can be achieved only if quality grading norms are applied. The primary producer, as well as the whole chain of related services, including flaying, curing, handling and storing, should be rewarded by better prices for improved quality. The main purpose of this paper prepared was therefore to provide a basis for such a quality grading.

This paper elaborates some reasons behind the success of the leather-footwear sector in Italy, also to see how and if the "Italian recipe" can be successfully exported to other Countries.

To this end, this survey breaks down into three main sections:

a) the first part will aim at setting the Italian leather-footwear system against the more general national industrial system. In fact, some elements (the prominence of small and medium companies, its “district” nature) in general are the resources of the Italian system;

b) the second part deals more specifically with the structure of the leather-footwear system in particular, its present situation, its main points of strength and weakness, and anticipating its lines of development;

c) the third part, finally, includes some considerations about the possibility of exporting the Italian model to other countries.


Paper was presented during the 13th Session of the UNIDO Leather Panel Meeting in Bologna (October 1997)

Throughout the world, women make a vital contribution to industrial output.. Their work not only sustains their families, but also makes a major contribution to socio-economic progress. The creativity and talents of all women are an invaluable resource, which can and should be developed both for their own selfrealization and for the benefit of society as a whole.

The key to enhancing women’s opportunities, and hence their position in industry and the economy, is to provide them with access to know-how, technologies and credit. Training to upgrade women’s technological capabilities and to enhance their entrepreneurial and business skills, whether in simple artisanal production or in high technology industries, is at the heart of allowing women to advance to more rewarding positions. All these activities are an integral part of UNIDO’s technical assistance programmes.

The case-studies presented in this series of brochures demonstrate that engament of women women and gender neutral management can be also for benefit of the leather sector.

UNIDO Shoe Industry Certificate Course Footwear LeatherPanel 1985

The Footwear Industry Certificate/Diploma Course was developed by the UNIDO Leather Unit's staff, its experts and consultants in 1985. The material was made available as training aid nad given, fully or partly, as hand-out for students and trainees.

Leather industry expert Richard Daniels In association with IULTCS, SLTC and the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (Unido), has released an extensive guide to leather manufacturing.

The 10-part guide, which contains insight on leathermaking, was created to give aspiring leather technicians a self-training resource for the procedures used in making a wide variety of leathers. It includes 300 technical diagrams.

The study is optimised for mobile or tablet viewing and covers the raw material properties, manufacturing procedures and outcomes, and production of major leather types including:

Bovine hides
Hair sheep and goatskins
Wool-bearing sheepskins.

You can find the full guide in 10 parts (plus summary) below. The full guide was presented during the XXXVI IULTCS Congress in Ethiopia in November 2021.

Hides, skins and leather form a critical strategic sector for the economic and industrial development of Ethiopia. 

Realizing the diverse and unique issues of women employees, the EU funded  LISEC project integrated gender mainstreaming as a cross-cutting theme. The gender mainstreaming process aims to promote gender equality and women’s empowerment in selected tanneries, slaughterhouses, and hide and skin trading companies.

In order to have a deeper understanding of the gender issues that exist within the leather industry and thereby devise a strategy to address the identified concerns, UNIDO, through its LISEC project, collaborated with the gender directorates of MoTI and LIDI to conduct this gender analysis. The main
objective of the gender analysis was to gain a clear insight into the gender issues affecting the leather value chain and thus identify recommended strategic actions for more gender-responsive planning and implementation from 6 abattoirs, 6 tanneries and 2 hide and skin trading companies.

The General Objective of the study was to conduct a gender analysis to have a deeper understanding of gender issues in the leather value chain and thereby devise a strategy to address the identified issues.
Specifically, the gender analysis aimed to:
 Assess the representation, participation, and decision-making of women and men employees.
 Assess women and men stakeholders’ access to and control over resources.
 Understand cultural gender roles, norms, relations, stereotypes, prejudices affecting women and men.
 Identify the presence and justification for sex/gender-based job segregation.
 Assess practices of recruitment, retention, promotion of women and men employees.
 Assess implementation of gender-related provisions (including the revised labour law) within stakeholder companies.
 Examine the presence of conducive and family/women-friendly work environments.
 Assess migration patterns to address women’s integration in the project in the best way possible.
 Provide strategic recommendations to address challenges that women and men face, while promoting gender equality as well as women’s empowerment.

Primitive tools made of stones and bones were the first equipment used for removing unwanted substances (fat, meat, hair) from the cured/conservated (by minerals) animal hides in order to protect the human foot and the body. For thousands of years only pits, various hand tools and simple machines were used in processing leather and making derived products such as shoes, gloves, bags, belts, harness and upholstery. With the gilds manufacturing processes were split into distinct operations that facilitated the construction of mechanisms and machines to assist manual workers or later to replace them. Mechanization of leather processing and leather products production started with the industrial revolution and accelerated by the invention of electric engines. Tanneries making leather from raw animal hides/skins use today heavy moving vessels (paddles, drums, mixers), mechanical and hydraulic equipment became a capital intensive and energy consuming industry. Nevertheless, basic principles of leather processing has not changed, automation made a limited impact on this industry. Chrome tanning will probably dominate leather making in the next decades, more and more through feed types of machines will be applied, but solid and liquid waste recycling or disposal remains the major problem of this trade. In spite of introduction of new and productive technologies (CAD/CAM, injection moulding etc.) leather products manufacturing is still a labour intensive industry. Future development is expected from robotization, further computerization, use of biotechnology and artificial intelligence. Use of commodities made of leather (derived from animal hides/skins) will be influenced by tendencies in meat consumption (raw hides/skins are by-products of the meat industry), achievements of the material science (development of synthetic leather substitutes having the same or even better hygienic and wear properties as leather) and additive manufacturing (e.g. 3D printing.)