Globalrec’s waste picker delegation participated in several reunions, side-events, press conferences and other projects in Dakar (Senegal) from May 29 to June 1, 2022, reinforcing the importance of having a waste picker delegation attending global reunions like UNEA.
The fifth meeting of the United Nations Environmental Assembly was held In March 2022. The aim was to reach agreements that are vital to successfully reduce plastic pollution globally. During the assembly, the initial dispositions on resolution 5/14 of the UNEA were established for the Intergovernmental Negotiation Committee, in order to design an international and legally binding instrument, that recognizes “the significant contribution made by workers in informal and cooperative settings to the collecting, sorting and recycling of plastics in many countries” (Page 3);
This edition of UNEA called for what they labelled: ‘Ending plastic pollution: towards an international legally binding document’.
Waste Pickers delegation from Chile, Kenya and Senegal lobbied the members states representative at the OEWG for operationalization of this resolution at future INCs through:
- Demand for enhanced participation for stakeholders, in particular waste pickers under informal and cooperative settings, civil society organizations from developing countries, Indigenous Peoples, children, youth and women.
- Demand for funding of at least six waste picker representatives to attend all INCs, intercessional meetings and thematic meetings.
- Demand for preparation of two reports: One on mechanisms for enhancing the participation of stakeholders, particularly waste pickers in informal and cooperative settings, given the importance of their meaningful participation in these negotiations, and second report on the status and scale of contribution of waste pickers in informal and cooperative settings to plastic waste management.
The waste pickers delegation achieved a series of wins in the OEWG meeting. A detailed discussion on the role of waste-pickers in plastic waste management took place during the opening of an informal session of member states. Chile and Colombia lead the discussion. Norway, Canada and South Korea were other allies who endorsed waste-pickers participation in the plastics treaty process.
The waste picker delegation participated in several reunions, side-events, press conferences and other projects from May 29 to Jun 1, reinforcing the importance of having a waste picker delegation attending global reunions like UNEA.
Among others, the highlights of globalrec’s delegation participation were:
- Panels organized by UNEA, with highlight to the speech of Adja Seyni Paye, the head of a household with two children, born in Dakar in 1987, who lives in Malika and that has been working as a collector since 1998 in the dumpisite. Adja explained that waste picking allows her to live and look after her children, and described the difficult working conditions and lack of social welfare support when workers are injured.
- Soledad Mella, President of the Chilean National Association of Recyclers and and John Chweya, President of Kenya National Waste Pickers Welfare Association also spoke at the panels “Just and inclusive transition to a plastic pollution-free economy” and “Keeping the value of resources at their End of Life: Environmentally sound management of plastic waste”. Saying that waste pickers are on the frontline of this war, John Chweya, Kenyan National Waste Pickers, explained how waste pickers show communities how plastic should be handled and reduce the amount of plastic that is deposited in the environment.
- Another important event was the side meeting with President of UNEA, Madam Inger Anderson (Executive Director of UNEP), that took place on the 29th of May 2022. Globalrec’s waste picker delegation shared with her the challenges that WPS Pickers face in their respective countries and their demand for a meaningful participation in the plastic treaty process. In her turn, the president expressed her commitment toward the Waste Pickers and her support for the demands.
- A detailed discussion on the role of waste-pickers in plastic waste management took place during the opening of an informal session of member states. Chile and Colombia lead the discussion. Chile, Colombia, Brazil, Uruguay, Peru, Ecuador and Kenya referred to waste-pickers frequently in their interventions in the plenary. Norway, Canada, Kenya and South Korea were other allies who endorsed waste-pickers participation in the plastics treaty process. Soledad Mella gave a statement on behalf of the Women’s Major group that can be read here.
- As dumpsite closure is one of the main threats that waste pickers currently face in Dakar., Globalrec’s delegation paid a visit to Mbeubeus dumpsite.
- To close the series of events, we held a press conference at the National Trade Union in Dakar, in which waste pickers expressed their satisfaction with the major advances achieved with respect to the consolidation of the recognition attained in UNEA.
The Global Alliance is continuing its lobbying efforts, in partnerships with governmental and non-governmental allies, for the Recognition, Inclusion, Just Transition and Direct Meaningful Participation of waste pickers/ workers in the informal and cooperative recycling system around the world in the intergovernmental negotiating committee (INC) to end plastic pollution.
You can read the full press release here.