Live from Basel: ISWA at OEWG-14

Jun 28, 2024 | ISWA blog, ISWA news

This week, ISWA President Carlos Silva Filho attended the 14th Meeting of the Open-ended Working Group of the Basel Convention (OEWG-14).

The Working Group is focused progress items in its work programme, with topics to include:

  • A draft renewed strategic framework
  • Work to improve the functioning of the prior informed consent procedure
  • Technical guidelines on Persistent Organic Pollutants, e-waste, waste lead-acid batteries and used and waste pneumatic tyres
  • Practical guidance on the development of inventories of waste for certain waste streams
  • Plastic waste
  • Providing further legal clarity
  • Work of the Implementation and Compliance Committee
  • Basel Convention Partnership Programme

Whilst there, Carlos presented two statements during the plenary sessions.

The first addressed the future of plastic waste, where Carlos iterated that there is a need to acknowledge that Plastic Pollution is a global and systemic challenge. Four key system failures must be highlighted:

  1. Poor or absent solid waste management services and infrastructure, and insufficient monitoring & legal enforcement
  2. Problematic and vulnerable markets for secondary plastics, resulting in poor and very fragile incentives for material recovery.
  3. Lack of an in-depth understanding of the technical challenges and the restrictions of material properties, the flows of plastics and the necessary availability of final sinks for the residual matters.
  4. Lack of in-depth understanding of the effects of social consumption patterns and littering behaviours on solid waste generation.

Given these specific challenges, Carlos, and ISWA as a whole,assert that:

  • Online databases about generation, flows and usage are an important instrument to define the current baseline, and existing initiatives and incentivize successful solutions based on existing experiences
  • Governance and financing schemes are key for a successful implementation
  • Establishing conditions for well-functioning markets for recycled plastics is extremely recommended.
  • Given the sector’s specificity, large variations in waste management maturity and dependence on local practices prevent a one-size-fits-all approach.

In the end, science-based evidence and scientific methods should provide the foundation on which decisions are made and the work should contribute to developing the governance and infrastructure capacities to address the issue of waste pollution as a whole.


On the topic of household waste, Carlos addressed the plenary on the Household Waste Partnership and welcomed a revised draft of the overall guidance document on the environmentally sound management of household waste.

This served as a unique opportunity to raise awareness and advance towards sound waste management, referring to the current waste crisis, as addressed in the Global Waste Management Outlook 2024, a report recently published jointly by the United Nations Environment Programme UNEP and ISWA.

The report shows that if we continue on a “business as usual” approach, global waste generation will increase by 80%, from 2.1 billion tonnes per year to 3.78 billion tonnes per year. The current municipal solid waste management system has a total overall cost of 361 billion USD/year and will reach USD 640 billion by 2050 if nothing changes.

But if we succeed in bringing waste under control, this cost will be reduced to USD 270 billion by 2050. However, if we move a step further and implement a Circular Economy system, instead of a cost, there will be a full net gain of USD 108 billion.


ISWA is actively engaged in the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee to develop an international legally binding instrument on plastic pollution. 

ISWA will continue the engagement informing the process and bringing the perspectives of our members for a sound instrument and prepare to head to South Korea for the next session in November. Intersessional work will be very important as delegations will have to deal with all the input to the original text that has been added to include “all views” as requested by some member states.

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