United Nations launches call for action on waste in cities at World Habitat Day

As residents in Nigerian cities face an admixture of despair and hope, the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat) last week challenged administrators to play their part in helping change waste management behavior and to ensure waste pickers were integrated into the formal economy.

The United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of UN-Habitat, Ms. Maimunah Mohd Sharif made the call at the commemoration of the World Habitat Day, where she announced the launch of a call for action for Waste Wise Cities.

“This calls for cities, towns and communities around the world to rethink, reduce, recycle, refuse and reuse waste and will provide the platform necessary to do so,” she said.

The United Nations General Assembly has designated the first Monday in October each year as World Habitat Day. The purpose of World Habitat Day is to reflect on the state of towns and cities, and on the basic right of all to adequate shelter. It is also intended to remind the world that we all have the power and the responsibility to shape the future of our cities and towns.

Each year, World Habitat Day takes on a new theme to bring attention to UN-Habitat’s mandate to promote sustainable development policies that ensure adequate shelter for all. This year, UN is urging cities to explore how increasing land values can be channeled towards better waste management.

The global observance of the occasion this year was held in Nairobi, Kenya. The theme for World Habitat Day is Municipal Solid Waste Management. Solid waste management is a global issue that affects everyone. The amount of waste produced by individuals is growing daily and often costs local authorities a large proportion of their budget.

In 2010, it was estimated that every day 0.8 kilograms of waste is produced by every person in the world. And the amount of total waste generated is expected to triple to 5.9 billion tons a year by 2025, due to increased consumption and ineffective management strategies.

The UN-Habitat chief said solid waste management was a theme close to her heart and an important priority for UN-Habitat, which was supporting cities to become cleaner and greener. She also spoke of the importance of working with the private sector and civil society organisations to find inclusive and effective solutions.

Mohd Sharif disclosed that UN-Habitat is scaling up its role in supporting cities to improve their waste management practices, to lead in designing cost effective and efficient systems to ensure we collect and dispose of waste properly.

“I believe that effective waste management starts with us an individual. Through collective action, we can achieve a world that is cleaner, greener, safer, healthier and happier, for us to live, work and play,” she added.

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