8 October 2013, Vienna, Austria - Waste related problems are often addressed in a fragmented and uncoordinated manner, resulting for the most part in end-of-pipe solutions which forego prevention measures, and lack an integrated approach, clear targets, and directions to follow.

In an effort to assist countries in developing a holistic and overarching approach to national waste management, the United Nations Environment Programme waste management image(UNEP) and UNITAR have jointly published the Guidelines for National Waste Management Strategies: Moving from Challenges to OpportunitiesLaunched on 7 October 2013 at the International Solid Waste Association (ISWA) Congress in Vienna, the Guidelines provide a conceptual and methodological framework for national planning that countries may adapt to their particular circumstances, while establishing a clear rationale for making waste management a national priority.

The document first outlines the key reasons why even though waste management implementation takes place at the local level, there is a need to develop national waste management strategies:

  • National waste management planning not only helps address the problems presented by current waste management systems, but maximizes the opportunities that sound waste management can offer in relation to all pillars of sustainable development (i.e. environmental, social, and economic).
  • National waste management planning supports the local implementation of waste management by indicating the direction to follow and the resources required, in addition to how these resources will be properly allocated where needed locally.
  • National waste management planning can foster the development of national recycling schemes and markets for recovered materials, and open or strengthen business opportunities in the waste sector.

Proposing questions that countries may wish to consider as they develop integrated national waste management strategies, the document explores the challenges and opportunities waste management presents to governments and communities. Reviewing the various concepts and principles related to waste management, it cites major considerations influencing policy choices involved in the process of strategy development, monitoring, and implementation. Finally, the guidelines define the actions a country can take in order to develop, implement, review, and update an effective national waste management strategy.

Ms. Sally Fegan-Wyles, UN Assistant Secretary-General, Acting Head and Executive Director of UNITAR, remarks that “ I have had the opportunity to live in UNEP-UNITAR Guidelines for National Waste Management Strategiessix different countries over the last ten years, both developing and developed. As a householder I have participated in the waste management systems of each country, and I seen a wide range of approaches, from the provision of very strong incentives for detailed household sorting, to the total lack of any guidance to the household. A carefully designed approach that takes the local culture and context fully on board can be really very effective, with major benefits to the environment and to the financial health of the local service providers. Learning from the experience of others, we can help decision makers to ‘leapfrog’ to the solution that will work best for their situation. UNITAR is very pleased to be a part of this process, using knowledge to improve the well-being of people around the world”.

The finalised version of the Guidelines is available on the IETC and UNITAR websites. We hope that this publication will be a valuable tool for decision makers and experts who are facing the challenge of developing national waste management strategies.

UNEP Press Release: http://www.unep.org/newscentre/Default.aspx?DocumentID=2752&ArticleID=9637&l=en