The UN is Building an E-waste Coalition

Geneva, 21 March 2018 The organisations from the United Nations system that are most active in addressing the global electronic waste challenge, have signed a Letter of Intent paving the way for coordination and collaboration on United Nations system-wide support for e-waste management. The signatories include UN Environment, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), United Nations University (UNU), International Labour Organization (ILO), the Basel and Stockholm Conventions, the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR).

The Letter of Intent paves the way for a coordinated effort across the United Nations organizations in addressing the challenge of e-waste. Some of the envisaged plans may include negotiations towards an e-waste coalition, more engagement with electronics manufacturers and recyclers, pilot projects to address downstream e-waste management activities and consumer behaviour, and the partnering with interested private sector entities to develop a knowledge sharing platform to host information on United Nations e-waste projects, and global statistics and data relating to e-products and e-waste.

UN Response to Tackling E-waste, Global E-waste Monitor

The transition towards a more digital, information, and knowledge society offers unprecedented opportunities for sustainable development. However, with the emergence of such a society arises the growth of the global consumption of electrical and electronic equipment that leads to a global challenge in electronic waste.

The signing of the Letter of Intent contributes to the ongoing work of the Environment Management Group, which is currently coordinating United Nations organisations to promote system-wide action and collaboration in the area of e-waste.

Two major reports on the global e-waste situation and the United Nations efforts to address the e-waste challenge, were released at the end of 2017. On one hand, the Environment Management Group report on the United Nations System-wide Response to Tackling E-waste highlighted the need for strengthened collaboration among United Nations organisations, with over 20 organisations active in tackling e-waste. It also presented over 150 e-waste initiatives that have been undertaken since 2004.

On the other hand, the Global E-waste Monitor, developed by the International Telecommunication Union, United Nations University and International Solid Waste Association has highlighted the increasing generation of e-waste and noted that in 2016 some 44.7 million metric tonnes of e-waste were generated globally.

Environment Management Group (EMG) and WRF

The Environment Management Group (EMG) is a United Nations (UN) System-wide coordination body on environment and human settlements. It was established in 2001 pursuant to the General Assembly resolution 53/242 in July 1999.

All Letter of Intent signatories mentioned are partners of the World Resources Forum, involved in joint projects or meetings, such as FORAM, Sustainable Recycling Industries (SRI), the Resource Revolution Trainer MOOC, the E-Waste Challenge and others.

For information contact the EMG Secretariat. 

Featured image: courtesy ITU/R.Farrell