UN Habitat Welcomes ISWA in the Advisory Group of the Waste Wise Cities Campaign

On May 29, 30 and 31, Philip Heylen, ISWA’s ambassador for Mayors and Municipalities, participated in the General Assembly of UN Habitat “Innovation for Better Quality of Life in Cities and Communities” in Nairobi, Kenya.

7 Jun 2019 -

One of the important topics on the agenda and of various side meetings was the approach to waste problems in cities and municipalities, and the rollout of the Waste Wise Cities campaign in particular. Given the extensive network and expertise that ISWA has accumulated over the past decades and the synergies with the Initiative for Mayors and Municipalities that was launched last year, important ties were forged between UN Habitat and ISWA at this meeting. As a result, ISWA will be part of the advisory group of the Waste Wise Cities campaign with the firm intention to further elaborate on this burning topic at the ISWA World Congress, 7-9 October in Bilbao. At this World Congress we also aim to organise the signing of a formal agreement between UN Habitat and ISWA.


To improve solid waste management and resource recovery in the world’s cities, waste collection and management must be enhanced, the generation of solid waste and food waste has to be decreased and hazardous wastes as well as recyclables have to be managed more effectively. The UN Waste Wise Cities Campaign aims to reach these targets through four pillars, which reflect the core activities of ISWA:


  1. Knowledge & Best Practice Sharing - strengthening the knowledge, technical capacity and governance systems for solid waste management in local authorities around the world
  2. Data & Monitoring - improving or rather setting up waste statistics systems on a national and local scale as well as building capacity for data monitoring
  3. Advocacy & Education - raising awareness for sustainable resource and waste management globally
  4. Finance & Bankability Support - increasing the global investments as well as the commitment (internationally, nationally and locally) to solid waste management improvements, including ensuring financial sustainability of solid waste management systems

However, these pillars can only lead to change amongst the appropriate target audiences if;


  • the acquired knowledge is being used to improve planning processes,
  • available data on solid waste management informs decisions on local authorities,
  • national laws on solid waste management are in place and being enforced,
  • a raised awareness for sustainable resource and waste management results in a behavioural change of the target population
  • solid waste management projects that are being implemented are financially sustainable.

The main focus of the campaign is therefore on municipal solid waste management.


Many other initiatives and organizations have already done similar activities. In Nairobi, we agreed that these should be mapped out, co-operations should be established, and gaps identified. The first priority should be a focus on data collecting. Measuring is knowing, and the start of everything. Over the years ISWA has collected and developed plentiful data on waste management and best practices.

As a second step it will be important to bring in the private sector as well, as it is also important to develop practical and bankable projects as well as sustainable business models. Otherwise the campaign might stay just theoretical.


Because of his background as Honorary vice-mayor in the city of Antwerp, Philip Heylen, who has been active for more than 20 years in politics, who was 18 years chairman of the Antwerp intermunicipal waste management organisation and is now working in a private company -, is very well placed to effectively work with municipalities and to support them in developing tailor made solutions for any given local context. Taking social, financial, technical and legislative diversity according to the local context into account is essential for successful project development. The most important part of the programme is first of all to raise awareness for sustainable waste management and to lead cities towards appropriate project design.


The Waste Wise Cities Advisory group, including ISWA president Antonis Mavropoulos and IMM ambassador Philip Heylen, brings many different organizations, private companies, knowledge and expertise together, which opens a window to tailor made approach for sustainable waste management.


Find out more about the Waste Wise Cities Campaign.



ISWA Initiative for Mayors and Municipalities (IMM)


ISWA recently launched an Initiative for Mayors and Municipalities (IMM) to raise the profile of waste management for a cleaner and healthier planet. The overall objective is to discuss and promote sustainable waste management at the highest level by engaging mayors and municipal leaders. Why is ISWA specifically targeting mayors and municipalities? ISWA's mission is to promote and develop sustainable waste management worldwide, to create a cleaner-healthier planet. To achieve this, ISWA's know-how and best practices need to be accessible to decision makers and those who influence policy on regional and national levels. Over the coming years, ISWA will organise events and workshops specifically aimed at mayors and municipalities and will tailor it's knowledge and projects into accessible, executive summaries for decision makers.


Find out more here.

back to list