For the first time, the U.N. Zero Waste Advisory Board will hold an in-person meeting in Istanbul, Türkiye this November, as confirmed by the executive director of U.N.-Habitat, Maimunah Mohd Sharif, on Saturday.
Sharif reminisced about the inaugural World Cities Day event that took place in Shanghai in 2013, and announced that this year’s theme in Istanbul, led by the Turkish first lady Emine Erdoğan – a prominent advocate of Türkiye’s zero waste campaign – will be centered around financing city agendas.
Former Malaysian mayor, Sharif, expressed her anticipation for the personal attendance of U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres at the meeting on Nov. 1, upon invitation by the chair.
She outlined the meeting’s agenda, which will focus on their three-year work plan, including the discussion of “best practices and the challenges in a more comprehensive and integrated approach.”
With regard to U.N.-Habitat’s ongoing endeavors towards the zero waste objective, Sharif cited the Waste Wise Cities Initiative, launched in 2018, pointing out that approximately 400 to 500 cities have joined the cause.
Sharif recounted the first International Zero Waste Day, held in New York on March 30 this year, and informed of the establishment of a unit focused on solid waste management. This involves waste treatment, wastewater treatment, and scrutinizing waste sources to devise appropriate actions.
Sharif underscored the reality of climate change, referring to reports that indicate July as the warmest month on record. She expressed her disappointment at the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) for not addressing the issue more frequently, given its seriousness.
Highlighting the importance of achieving the U.N.’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Sharif mentioned that cost considerations for zero-waste actions are crucial. She revealed that “up to now 2.3 billion tons of waste have not been properly managed,” translating to “nearly 40% of global waste not being disposed of correctly.”
Sharif expressed hope that at least 1,000 cities will join the Zero Waste Program, asserting that it’s directly associated with “people’s quality of life.”
Waste management will be a focal point during the meeting, with participants including the first ladies of Suriname and Sierra Leone, researchers, and representatives from the public and private sectors, who will provide insights and advice on best practices.
Sharif defined sustainability as judicious use of limited resources in a way that doesn’t jeopardize future generations, asserting the need for global participation to achieve this.
In an alarming revelation, Sharif stated that only two out of 169 Sustainable Development Goals set in 2015 have been achieved so far, demonstrating that “we are falling behind in accomplishing our objectives.”
In a call to action, Sharif emphasized, “All of us have a role to play.”
To read more about zero waste in turkey, visit http://zerowaste.gov.tr/