Istanbul to host 1st face-to-face Zero Waste Advisory Board meeting this fall: UN official

Istanbul to host 1st face-to-face Zero Waste Advisory Board meeting this fall: UN official

Meeting participants to discuss work plan for next 3 years towards reaching Sustainable Development Goals, says UN-Habitat executive director

By Faruk Hanedar and Merve Berker

ANKARA (AA) – The very first in-person meeting of the UN Zero Waste Advisory Board will be held this November in the Turkish metropolis Istanbul, the executive director of UN-Habitat said on Saturday.

Maimunah Mohd Sharif told Anadolu in an exclusive interview that the first World Cities Day event was held in Shanghai in 2013, stressing that the theme for this year in Istanbul under the leadership of Turkish first lady Emine Erdogan – who has spearheaded Türkiye's zero waste efforts – will be financing the cities agenda.

Sharif, who previously served as an important mayor in Malaysia, said they hope and expect to see UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres attend the meeting in person on Nov. 1, as he will be invited by the chair.

“We will check our work plan, which includes what we want to achieve in the next three years” by sharing “the best practices and also the challenges in a more holistic and integrated manner,” she underlined.

About UN-Habitat’s current work on the zero waste goal, Sharif referred to the Waste Wise Cities Initiative in 2018, stressing that around 400-500 cities have already joined the program.

“We had the first International Zero Waste Day on the 30th of March this year in New York,” she noted, adding, “We have already set up one unit on solid waste management,” including waste treatment, wastewater treatment, and analyzing waste sources to come up with proper action.


-Climate change vs. UN Sustainable Development Goals

Underlining that climate change is real, the UN official cited reports saying this July is the hottest month to date, criticizing how the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) has rarely mentioned the issue despite its seriousness.

Reaching the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) is critical at this point, she stressed, noting that the costs of these zero-waste-related actions are also vitally important.

“Up to now 2.3 billion tons of waste have not been properly treated so far,” she said, adding that this means “almost 40% of global waste has not been managed in a proper way.”

Voicing hope that at least 1,000 cities will join the Zero Waste Program, she said that this is directly “linked to the quality of life for people.”

Underscoring that waste management will be a priority during the meeting, Sharif said the first ladies of Suriname and Sierra Leone, researchers, and members from both the public and private sectors will be among the advisory members who will share best practices on the issue.

Defining sustainability as using limited resources in a way so as to not jeopardize future generations, the UN-Habitat head said a global effort is truly needed to accomplish this.

Out of 169 Sustainable Development Goals set in 2015, only two have so far been reached, which demonstrates that “we are not going forward, we are behind in achieving all goals,” she stressed.

“All of us have to play a role” in doing so, Sharif noted.


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