United NationsDepartment of Economic and Social Affairs Sustainable Development

UNEP

Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD 19)
Inter-governmental Preparatory Meeting
New York, 2nd March 2011
United Nations Environment programme
Statement: Waste Management
As living standards and incomes rise, the world is expected to generate over 13.1 billion tons of waste in
2050, about 20% higher than the amount in 20091. This rapid increase in both volume and types of solid
and hazardous wastes due to economic growth, industrialization and increased urbanisation, coupled
with a lack of adequate waste collection and disposal systems in many low-income countries, has severe
impacts on the environment, public health2, and living conditions. However, there is a strong potential to
improve the health and livelihoods of all citizens and provide economic opportunities through the safe
and efficient reduction, re-use, recycling, recovery, treatment and disposal of waste.
Waste management and resource recovery from waste are still low on the socio-political priorities of
many countries, and national and local policies on waste management are not yet comprehensive
enough to cover all types of wastes and all aspects of waste management. The priority objective is to
formulate and implement policies that promote waste prevention and minimization and support the
effective and efficient management of the remaining solid and hazardous wastes, focusing on reuse and
recycling and on the recovery of useful materials and energy.
In addition to policy development and implementation, technology transfer, financing and capacity
building to build required infrastructure are needed for many countries to develop effective waste
management systems. Innovative financial instruments and the development of public-private
partnerships can increase availability of and access to financial resources. An important step should also
be to improve the quality and reliability of waste related data and projections in order to allow for
adequate planning.
The social aspects of waste management, such as the role and status of people working in the informal
waste sector, cannot be overlooked either. Programmes and policies should mainstream this section of
society in national or local waste management pl ans, providing decent working conditions.
Special attention needs to be paid to some specific waste streams such as E-Waste, waste plastics, waste
agricultural biomass, healthcare wastes, industrial hazardous wastes etc. Further demonstration projects
on specific waste streams are required, for conversion into valuable resources, and the safe treatment
and disposal of residues.
Effective waste management needs to center around three pillars - 1) waste minimization and
prevention, 2) maximization of resource recovery through integrated solid waste management, and 3)
management of specific waste streams. UNEP?s waste programme provides capacity-building and support
at the national and local levels for all three of these pillars, developing innovative approaches to waste
management. Activities include awareness raising, capacity building, demonstration projects, policy
formulation, and improving availability and access to information and technology. The emphasis is on
resource recovery and environmentally sound disposal of residual waste. Support is al so provided to
1 Chalmin P. and Gaillochet C. From Waste to Resource: An Abstract of World Waste Survey. Cyclope, Veolia Environmental
Services, Edition Economica (2009). p. 25
2 For example, a UNEP study carried out at the Kenyan dumpsite, Dandora in 2006,found that about 50% of the examined
children and adolescents living close to the dumpsites had respiratory ailments and blood lead levels exceeding
international threshold. Further, 30% were confirmed to have high exposure to heavy metal poisoning detected by red
blood cell abnormalities.
countries in strengthening the implementation of waste related multilateral agreements and preventing
illegal trade.
An integrated solid waste management approach has been developed which focuses on reducing, reusing
and recycling, often referred to as the 3Rs. The approach allows municipalities to develop integrated solid
waste management plans covering all waste streams and all aspects of waste management (from
collection to segregation, transportation, recovery or recycling, treatment and final disposal), with a focus
on the recovery of resources from waste.
Demonstration projects have yielded positive results thus far. For example, through a demonstration
project on integrated solid waste management in Matale, Sri Lanka, out of 47 tonnes/day, it is estimated
that 36 tonnes of waste was diverted for recycling, thus, new business for generating compost, biogas and
recovering plastics and paper will provide jobs and boost economic activities. Demonstration projects are
also being carried out for the management of specific waste streams, such as e-waste management in
Cambodia, converting waste plastics into fuel in India, the Philippines and Thailand and converting waste
agricultural biomass into a resource in Nepal, Pakistan, the Philippines and Sri Lanka.
It is increasingly being realised that issues related to waste management can best be tackled by promoting
partnership among and between different stakeholders. UNEP launched a Global Partnership on Waste
Management (GPWM) in November 2010, the framework of which was developed during long
consultations with stakeholders at various occasions (such as UNEP?s Governing Council in 2009, Openended
working group of the Basel Convention, CSD 18, and during dedicated consultation workshops at
Geneva and Osaka.
The GPWM will be an open-ended partnership for international agencies, governments, businesses,
academia, local authorities and NGOs. It will support the development of work plans to facilitate the
implementation of integrated solid waste management at national and local level, promote the exchange
of experiences and practices and facilitate capacity building. Its holistic approach aims to address gaps in
current activities which are not tackled in a coordinated manner nor covered by releva nt MEAs. The
partnership will cover various focal areas such as integrated solid waste management, hazardous waste,
3R for waste management, E-waste, waste agricultural biomass, waste prevention and capacity building
on waste management.
With reference to the partnership, a decision on chemicals and waste management from UNEP?s
Governing Council last week requested the Executive Director to continue to consult widely on the terms
of reference for the partnership, to broaden the information platform so as to collect and disseminate
information related to waste management, to focus the work of the partnership on the waste
management needs of developing countries and countries with economies in transition, to strengthen
the cooperation and coordination with relevant United Nations and other relevant international
institutions in the area of waste management, to build upon experiences of other partnerships developed
under the auspices of the United Nations Environment Programme, and to ensure coherence and
complementarity and avoid duplication with relevant work under the United Nations as well as in other
international institutions and arrangements.