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IETC Strategy


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The Vision for IETC is to transform itself to be the Global Centre of Excellence on environmentally sound technologies with a focus on waste management.

The Strategy provides an overview of the global development trends capturing the opportunities and building on past accomplishments. The Strategy articulates actions needed in the short and medium term to achieve the objectives towards the Vision.

The key messages of the Strategy include:

holistic approach to waste; waste as a resource; and promotion of prevention policies.

Division of Technology, Industry and Economics International Environmental Technology Centre

Osaka, Japan January 2015

IETC Strategy 2015-18

Waste as a Resource For

Sustainable Development



The world is going through an unprecedented transition setting new trends for the 21



With the global population increasing from currently around 7.3 billion to 9 billion by 2050 and 11 billion by the end of the 21st century, the urbanization trend is expected to continue with more than 80 per cent of humanity living in cities by 2050. Most of these people will live in African and Asian cities where city growth rates are the highest, followed by Latin America and the


The industrial revolution has pursued a linear path of extracting natural resources, putting it through an industrial process for goods and services with the end product as waste. Waste should be defined holistically as an unwanted by-product of human activity in solid, liquid and gaseous form.

Waste is generated at all stages of production and consumption chain. With increasing income levels, there will

be 3 billion new middle class consumers in the coming decade. The demand for goods and services and consequently the

waste generation will grow exponentially under the business as usual scenario. To fulfil this demand WWF estimates resources of 5 additional planet earths will be needed. World Bank estimates that the current 1.3 billion tonnes of municipal solid waste (MSW) will increase to approximately 2.2 billion tonnes per year by 2025. Waste characteristics are also changing as countries develop- from mainly organic to containing more hazardous substances having a negative impact on human health

and environment. A holistic management of waste will also provide co-benefits to address other challenges humanity is facing. One such area is urbanization-waste nexus. Municipal solid waste landfills are the third largest source of global methane emissions, and open garbage burning emits black carbon and other air toxics as well as greenhouse gases. Managing waste sustainably will be an important area in climate change mitigation efforts.

The urban infrastructure has not been able to meet with the exponential growth in population coupled with rapid life style changes. Existing waste management systems are often overburdened with increasing quantities and the changing composition of the waste. Due to lack of adequate understanding and appropriate legislation much of the hazardous waste is unscrupulously exported to developing countries. A decentralized urban equilibrium approach can assist municipalities to manage waste.

The cost of inaction for waste management is high.

Improper waste management impedes the provision of basic necessities for public health such as clean water, clean air and safe food. Untreated waste contaminates soil and water through leachate. Burning of waste significantly increases the air pollution having adverse impacts to human health. Like most environmental hazards, deficiencies in waste management also disproportionately affect poorer communities more as wastes are often dumped in land adjacent to slums and waste pickers are exposed to hazardous substances.

In the second half of the 20th century, Japan and other industrialized countries experienced rapid economic growth similar to what we are now seeing in developing countries. By the 1960s, waste in Japan had begun to have serious negative impacts on the quality of life. A period of ‘miracle growth’ in the 1950s and 1960s and further intensive industrialization had led to a series of environmental crises. Remedial and preventative measures were adopted which in turn required huge investments and efforts. Useful lessons from these experiences from Japan and other Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries can be shared through the UNEP International Environmental Technology Centre’s (IETC) located in Japan. The economic impetus for more efficient use of resources through reduced waste, reuse and recycling (the “3Rs” approach), and a desire to minimize the impacts of waste on health and climate change, can become driving factors for sustainable development.

Scatterplot of waste generation per capita against gross national income (GNI) per capita by country1



Despite the looming waste crisis, there are grounds for optimism.

If waste is considered a resource, it acquires a value to be used. With a preventive and precautionary approach and the application of new environmentally sound technologies, it is possible to manage waste in a sustainable way. The opportunities and benefits of sustainable waste management include: efficient use of resources, less environmental pollution, reduced costs in managing waste, reduced greenhouse gas emissions, and contributions to equity and poverty alleviation. Improved health, health costs that are avoided, water contamination that is prevented, and the ensuing cost of alternative water supply are also important benefits.

In addition to environmental benefits, sustainable waste management will also facilitate economic opportunities and growth.

Economic benefits of proper waste management will mainly come from considering waste as a resource, that is, by reusing products, recycling waste and recovering materials and energy including converting waste to biogas. This will lead to GHG reduction and multiple sanitation and health benefits. In particular, converting waste into energy can assist countries in meeting their energy needs and thus has significant benefits for energy security.

UNEP’s Green Economy Report shows that greening the waste sector can also create decent jobs if labour conditions in the waste sector are improved. The report shows that recycling creates more jobs than it replaces. Sorting and processing recyclables alone sustain ten times more jobs than land filling or incineration on a per ton basis.

New technologies are needed to master the transition to a green economy.

The transfer of environmentally sound technologies (EST) is emphasized in the Bali Strategic Plan for Technology Support and Capacity-building as adopted by UNEP’s Governing Council in its 23rd Session in February 2005.

The Bali Strategic Plan and its mandate will provide opportunities for the waste management sector.

To provide a way forward for sustainable waste management, the Post-2015 Development Agenda will provide the impetus.

Waste is a cross-cutting topic that will have a number of inter-linkages with the 10 year framework of programmes on sustainable consumption and production as well as the sustainable development goals that are now being discussed for the Post-2015 Development Agenda. One topic that will play a major role in the Post-2015 Development Agenda implementation is the promotion and transfer of environmentally sound technologies.

The nexus between cities and waste and waste and climate change provides significant opportunities.

As city infrastructures are further developed and land-uses are planned, there are opportunities to introduce and integrate sustainable waste management planning in city development plans. In particular, cities are on the front-line in addressing short-lived climate pollutants (SLCPs), including methane, black carbon, tropospheric ozone, and many hydro- fluorocarbons from the solid as well as gaseous waste sector. Fast action has the potential to slow down the warming expected by 2050 by as much as 0.5°C, as well as prevent over two million premature deaths each year and avoid annual crop losses of over 30 million tons. ‘City Mining’ will provide cost effective solutions for building and construction contributing to resource security of Member States.



Developed countries over the last century have made substantial progress towards sustainable waste management. Developing countries are experiencing exponential growth in waste due to population increase coupled with urbanization and affluence as well as wasteful lifestyles. The international community must make concentrated efforts to learn the lessons of history towards proactive prevention policies on waste management.

To achieve results for sustainable waste management in developing countries, we will need a persistent focus.

Developing countries often lack adequate policies, technical capacities and financial means to address the challenges related to rapid urbanization and associated waste management. To assist these countries in managing their urbanization and associated waste challenges and protect their natural resources, capacity building, including expert knowledge on framework legislation, policy implementation and on assessing and selecting suitable technologies is needed. The assistance based on expressed needs include:

formulation and articulation of a comprehensive strategy and action plans on waste; support for proven and tested policies; and facilitation with financing institutions and providers of environmentally sound technologies.

Another aspect to be considered is the rapidly changing composition of waste. Even in developing countries, the organic waste component in municipal solid waste is decreasing and the hazardous waste component (such as batteries, expired medicines, mineral oils, paints and varnishes containers, pesticides etc.) is increasing. Some specific waste streams such as E-waste, waste tires, healthcare waste etc. also have hazardous components.

Mercury waste is another emerging issue. Hence, IETC is giving priority attention to assist developing countries in tackling hazardous waste in close

cooperation with BRS. IETC support will include capacity building (e.g.

mercury waste), assessment and selection of ESTs and policy support.

Rapid urbanization in the developing regions of Asia, Africa and Latin America.

These developing regions are experiencing mega shifts in consumption production patterns with an exponential demand for materials. These developing regions are rich in natural resources and valuable ecosystems.

However, their low level of socio-economic development is characterized by weak human and institutional capacities, low and unequally distributed income and scarcity of domestic financial resources. Developing countries often lack adequate policies, technical capacities, access to ESTs and financial means to address the challenges related to rapid urbanization and associated waste management. The geographical focus of IETC’s support must be to support the capacity development and transfer of environmentally sound technologies for the developing regions. A phased approach starting with Asia would be logical step towards this comprehensive capacity development.

Support for Capacity Building in LDCs



IETC has evolved over its 20-year history.

The mandate of IETC, as agreed in Decision 16/34 of UNEP Governing Council, is the transfer of environmentally sound technologies (EST) to developing countries and countries with economies in transition. This was reinforced by the GC’s adoption of the Bali Strategic Plan for Technology Support and Capacity- building in its 23rd Session in February 2005.

In 2012, UNEP’s senior management decided initial focus of IETC should be to become the global centre of excellence on waste management.

To implement this mandate, IETC has prepared a roadmap. There is significant political support for UNEP IETC’s work on waste. Member States have expressed their support through UNEP mandates, decisions by the Governing Council/Global Ministerial Environment Forum, the approved programmes of work (PoW) for 2012-2013 and 2014-2015, incorporating a range of activities to address waste management mainly under the sub-programme on chemicals and waste.

The Japanese Government has given strong and generous support to IETC over its 20-year history.

The policy dialogue between UNEP and the Government in Japan in October 2013 confirmed the strengthening of IETC’s governance; support to the concept of the Centre of Excellence on Waste Management and expectations for broadening the scope of IETC’s activities into areas related to climate change;

strengthening the support structure for IETC through the designation of a Collaborating Centre; and strengthening communications and outreach. This Strategy will need to incorporate these confirmations.

It is of utmost importance to further strengthen IETC’s partnership with Japan.

IETC’s location in Japan provides the Centre with a significant support network and access to knowledge from the country’s experience. Japan’s experience in waste management, the promotion of the 3R and the concept of a Sound Material-Cycle Society as well as the academic research, development and innovations and the vibrant private sector provide an important source of knowledge. Leveraging knowledge on successful policy approaches from Japan and other OECD countries and facilitating knowledge exchange will be an important task for IETC. IETC will enhance this partnership though regular consultations with the Government and Osaka City and outreach to public through events such as Environment Day and dissemination of information in Japanese language.

IETC will enhance its visibility within UNEP.

As per GC decision 27/12 on Chemicals and Waste Management, UNEP is requested to develop a “UNEP-wide waste strategy to prioritize its work and to make recommendation on existing and future areas of United Nations Environment Programme work on wastes, taking care to not duplicate efforts under way in other forums”. As the focal point on waste management within UNEP, IETC is taking the lead to develop this strategy, which will enhance IETC’s visibility within UNEP.

IETC will enhance its visibility and recognition through results-focused work in developing countries.

Programmatically, IETC will focus on the implementation of the IETC-led outputs in the UNEP PoW (for more details, please refer to section VII below). These include focusing on normative work in supporting developing countries in developing waste strategies, action plans, assessment and identification of ESTs and pilot demonstration projects. It will also include support in collaboration with BRS to developing countries through political guidance from sub-regional intergovernmental bodies.



The long-term goal for IETC remains to make gradual progress towards the 1992 mandate of the transfer of environmentally sound technologies to support developing countries and countries in economic transition. To reach this goal, the establishment of a global centre of excellence on waste is the necessary step with following key actions: a holistic definition of waste within the context of sustainable development; support to developing regions for national/city level strategies; and establishment of a knowledge hub.

Key actions for the short term (2015-2016) and medium term (2015-2019) are outline in the table below. These actions will enhance the implementation of decisions taken by UNEP Governing Council (GC) and UN Environment Assembly (UNEA). In the following section these actions are compiled into project documents which form a part of UNEP’s overall Program of Work (PoW). These reference are in red in the following section.

The overall vision for IETC to become the global centre of excellence on waste management is: IETC will be a Global Centre of Excellence on Environmentally Sound Technologies with a particular focus on Waste Management. It will bring together knowledge on waste management technologies, good management practices and associated policies and develop guidance for their application; and it will support the transfer of knowledge on these technologies and policies to developing countries and countries with economies in transition, using modern communication methods. The Centre will contribute to improving environmental and human health and well-being conditions in countries by addressing waste management through the environment dimension of sustainable development.

Period Goal Key Actions Short-

term (2015-16)

Laying the foundation for it to become centre of excellence on waste


1. Strengthen IETC’s International Advisory Board by enhancing membership with regular meetings.

2. Enhance IETC visibility through completion of UNEP Strategy on Waste; Global Waste Management Outlook; and plan for Global Centre of Excellence on Waste.

3. Establish partnerships across the regions to support developing countries with national/city level strategies on waste, assessment and identification of ESTs, demonstration projects and facilitate implementation.

4. Establish a knowledge hub bringing experts, knowledge and technologies in one platform for service of developing countries; university consortium for waste curriculum; an authoritative study on economics of waste; and guideline for framework law on waste.

5. Strengthen in-house capacity including; building critical mass of core staff partnerships across the regions with relevant institutions.

Medium- term (2015-18)

Become recognized as the global centre of excellence on waste


1. Enhance IETC visibility through wide dissemination of waste curriculum; economics of waste;

guidelines for framework law on waste; and regional outlooks on waste.

2. Strengthen partnerships in developing regions for completion of national and city level strategies, assessment and identification of ESTs, demonstration projects and facilitate implementation with engagement of stakeholders.

3. Enhance the knowledge hub with a distributed decentralized partnerships across the regions sharing a common platform to support developing countries and enhance close partnerships with the private as well as the informal sector.

4. Strengthen in-house capacity including:

establishment of expert networks for different waste streams; establishment of virtual help desk to support developing countries.


VI. K EY W ORK A REAS IN 2015-2018

1.0 Enhance IETC visibility through completion of UNEP Strategy on Waste;

Global Waste Management Outlook; and plan for Global Centre of Excellence on Waste.

1.1 Complete the Global Waste Management Outlook (PoW Output 531.1).

IETC, in collaboration with the International Solid Waste Association (ISWA), as part of the activities for the coming biennium, will complete the Global Waste Management Outlook (GWMO). The GWMO will provide an authoritative overview and analysis of policy instruments - addressing the different stages of the waste hierarchy - and financing models for waste management around the world. The Regional Waste Management Outlooks for the developing regions will be a follow-up to the GWMO providing higher resolution focus for policy makers and other stakeholders including synergy with the 3R White Paper for Asia.

1.2 Complete UNEP-wide Strategy on Waste Management (GC 27/5).

Through collaborative consultations, IETC will systemically analyse UNEP’s work (as well as that BRS and other international organizations) on waste management, identify gaps and complete a UNEP-wide waste strategy including niche areas for IETC.

1.3 Develop a Plan for the Establishment of Global Centre of Excellence on Waste Management (ED’s Memo of 16 August 2012). IETC will study the requirements of and expectations from a global centre of excellence and accordingly complete a plan to meet those requirements. Preliminary analysis has already indicated that areas like development of comprehensive national and local level waste management strategies, and building a knowledge hub require immediate attention. Transfer of environmentally sound technologies (EST) to developing countries and an enabling environment for innovation will be a key component of the Centre.

2.0 Establish partnerships across the regions to support developing countries with national/city level strategies on waste, demonstration projects and facilitate implementation. These partnerships will be a key vehicle for IETC‘s programme implementation both for innovative region specific content relevance and global reach.

2.1 Global Partnership on Waste Management (PoW Output 526 of 2012-13 continuing as 531.2). The development of Global Partnership for Waste Management (GPWM) will be strengthened with additional partners. IETC will focus on partnerships for hazardous waste management (GC27/12 &

16/30 and POW 531.2 & 532.1) to support developing countries for capacity building especially on mercury waste, E-waste including a training resource pack.

2.2 Complete 18 National and City Level Strategies in Asia, Africa and Latin America (PoW Output 534.1). IETC will work closely with UNEP Regional Offices to establish partnerships at the national level to complete the strategies, action plans, pilot demonstration project leading to process towards framework legislation on waste management. Building on Urban Equilibrium, behaviour change programmes to empower municipalities to manage their own waste will form an active part of the programme.

National workshops will bring together stakeholders to complete these outputs. Political support will be actively sought from regional/sub- regional intergovernmental bodies to reach out to countries beyond initial pilot countries in each region. IETC will seek partnerships with UN Resident Coordinators, bilateral and multilateral agencies active in the waste management sector for the implementation of joint programmes.

2.3 Strengthen Synergies with IGES Collaborating Centre to Support IETC (Recommendation of External Review Committee of MoEJ). This is a follow-up of the recommendations made by the Government of Japan appointed external review committee and decided at the Japan-UNEP Policy Dialogue in 2013. Complete development and implementation of Program Cooperation Agreement as a vehicle to strengthen these synergies. IGES will assist in implementing IETC Strategy along with the UNEP PoW, and also facilitate outreach of IETC especially for stakeholders in Japan.


3.0 Establish a knowledge hub that brings experts, knowledge and technologies in one platform for service of developing countries;

university consortium on waste; an authoritative study on economics of waste; and guidelines for framework law on waste building on BRS guidelines.

3.1 Development and Systematic Collection of Data, Information, Indicators from National Sources Contributing to ‘Data Revolution (PoW Output 534.1). Through partnerships with national and local institutions available data on waste will be systematically collected. This data, supplemented by information, knowledge and wisdom, will be used to develop integrated waste solutions covering all the media (gaseous, liquid and solid). This will contribute to DEWA’s UNEP LIVE.

3.2 Enhance information on ESTs and technology assessments (PoW Output 532.1 and GC 27/5). Guidelines and technology compendiums on specific waste streams will be developed. The applicability of the guidelines as well as technology needs assessments will be tested through pilot projects that seek to build local champions and support them in partnership with Regional Offices.

3.3 Complete Curriculum Design on Waste Management through Consortium of Universities (PoW Output 534.1, 7B3). IETC will work closely with the Environmental Education and Training Unit (DEPI/EETU) to seek partnerships with universities and professional societies to develop curriculum for both formal education and short term training on holistic approach to waste management. This will be a long term effort to increase the community of experts on new approaches to waste. Working with UNEP’s Global Universities Partnership on Environment for Sustainability (GUPES), a university consortium for waste management will be established in the three developing regions to support capacity building through formal and informal training including online and blended learning models (ex. Massive Open Online Course). IETC will commission an authoritative study on economics of waste which will also address decoupling of waste and affluence in close partnership with DTIE/ETB which will be disseminated through GUPES.

4.0 Strengthen in-house capacity including: building critical mass of core staff; establishing network with experts across the regions on waste;

and leveraging additional financial support through strategic partnerships.

4.1 Strengthen IETC’s Capacity through Enhanced International Advisory Board (IAB) Membership and Regular Meetings as well as Building Core Competence of Staff (Recommendation of External Review Committee of MoEJ and Policy Dialogue of 2013). An internal review of the International Advisory Board will be undertaken with an aim to strengthen membership and conduct regular meetings. The enhanced IAB meeting will be organised in 2015. Staff expertise on bio-degradable, non-biodegradable, hazardous (especially mercury waste for the Minamata Convention) and knowledge management will be developed through new recruitment as well as staff development and training in 2015.

4.2 Establish a Network of Experts to Support Knowledge Platform for a Virtual Help Desk (526 of 2012-13 continuing as 531.2). IETC will bring together expertise on waste and waste related ESTs and policy together to support developing countries through a virtual help desk for enhancing the implementation of waste strategies. This action will utilize the virtual platform created by the knowledge hub.

4.3 Identify Key Partners to Leverage Knowledge and Financial Support to develop and implement national and city level strategies in the region (PoW Output 534.1). Within UNEP partnerships will be developed with DTIE, DEPI, DELC and DEWA. Many external institutions are engaged in the field of waste. It is envisaged that IETC will identify and develop partnerships with these institutions to leverage both expertise/

information/knowledge/technologies as well as financing to support the developing countries. Some of these institutions include: ISWA, World Bank, ADB, AfDB, GIZ, ICLEI, and other UN Agencies.


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