President's Blog

27 Nov 2017 09:39 Age: 2 yrs

President's Blog | Derek Greedy at the World Health Organisation (WHO)

Category: ISWA News, ISWA BLOG, CloseDumpsites


Derek Greedy is former Chair of ISWA's Working Group on Landfill and currently represents National Members on the ISWA Board

At the invitation of the Executive Board of the World Health Organisation (WHO) to present a statement to assist in the drafting of the thirteenth General Programme of Works Board Member I attended the special meeting held 22nd – 23rd November in Geneva. The statement that follows was presented in the session for Non-State Actors in the afternoon of 22nd.


“Unmanaged waste dumpsites are a global health emergency. According to ISWA’s study, dumpsites receive roughly 40% of the world’s waste and serve 3-4 billion people. Exposure to open dumpsites has a more negative impact on a population’s life expectancy than malaria. The hazardous emissions, along with the obvious immediate physical threats, make dumpsites a severe danger to human health.

Inadequate waste management, in the form of unmanaged waste dumpsites, can have very serious environmental and human health impacts over long periods of time. It is therefore essential that they be managed in a safe and responsible way. ISWA calls on the global community to recognize sustainable, sound waste and resource management as a social and economic necessity with a vital role in the satisfaction of basic human health.

Furthermore, there is a need to consider sound waste management in the context of the SDGs, in particular 3.9: “by 2030 substantially reduce the number of deaths and illnesses from hazardous chemicals and air, water, and soil pollution and contamination.” It is essential to strengthen national policy development and enhance capacity in the areas of waste management strategy, impact assessment, and the use of economic and regulatory instruments, as well as in the areas of information, education and communication.

ISWA calls upon the global community, in accordance with the integrated approach, to play a significant role in financing, as well as to build capacity for the closure of inadequately managed waste dumpsites. ISWA encourages the global community to assign high priority, in accordance with specific national needs and conditions, to the formulation and implementation of policies and programmes for integrated waste management.

ISWA calls on states to provide an enabling national and international environment that encourages investments from public and private sources to establish market-based incentives which allows for better investment in waste management infrastructure.

Over the coming years, the closure of inadequate waste dumpsite must be an urgent international priority in order to protect the health of hundreds of millions of people worldwide. ISWA will work with the international community to set clear examples of how to close dumpsites in a sustainable manner, but we call on the global community to share the priority.”


Interestingly WHO has set itself a triple billion target for the duration of the Programme of Works 2019-2023. That is 1 billion more people with health coverage, 1 billion more people made safer and 1 billion with their lives improved. Closing dumpsites alone would more than achieve the 1 billion with their lives improved.


As regards the improvement of lives for the 1 billion, WHO will support countries in attaining the health-related Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by focusing in four key areas one of which is the health effects of climate change and the environment which again fits very nicely with ISWA’s own priorities.


The Director General made it abundantly clear that the General Programme of Works would align itself with the now established and well recognised SDGs whilst recognising that it needs to rewrite its business model.  Business as usual is not an option. He is seeking to continue the dialogue with member states and the Non-State Actors such as ISWA. The business model would need to be ambitious but with achievable and measurable targets. Like ourselves he sees Africa as a priority but was seeking to have a presence in every country. He also saw a need for improved data collection and monitoring.


The aim is now for the secretariat to consolidate the comments received and to prepare a final draft for the Executive Board to approve in January 2018.  However, it had not been dismissed that there might still be a need for a further special session should further clarity be required. 


ISWA must be part of any further dialogue and continue to foster collaboration between the 2 organisations. ISWA already has a strong working relationship with WHO with the Working Group on Healthcare Waste having established a close cooperation and the preparation of a blue book on healthcare waste, a book that should be fostered to generate action in other areas where waste management has an impact on health. The closure of dumpsites is just one of those areas.


For more information on ISWA's initiative to close dumpsites, take a look all of the news, reports and documents at our special website here.