November 29, 2022
Punta del Este, Uruguay – The Group of Friends of Waste Pickers was inaugurated today, during the first international negotiations committee (INC-1). The group, which will be a platform to hear waste pickers’ concerns in the ongoing negotiations, represents a historic moment for the workers of the informal waste sector. Never before have countries formally committed to advocate on behalf of waste pickers in the context of international negotiations.
“A legal framework must be established and ensured for the fair transition of waste pickers to new working conditions. A framework that takes care of their sources of income, that guarantees a honest and inclusive transition and that creates decent work opportunities for all.” said Mr. Adrián Peña, Minister of Environment of Uruguay, in his inaugural address.
The group is a voluntary and informal space led by the UN member states and its inauguration session had the presence of representatives from Pakistan, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Senegal, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, Tanzania, Kenya, Rwanda, Algeria, Norway, the United Kingdom, France, Canada, Chile, Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, and Ecuador.
Ms. Mamogala Muskene, Director of the Department of Forestry, Fisheries, and the Environment, and member of the South African delegation chaired the meeting, and encouraged the member states to ensure waste pickers’ interests are reflected in the future treaty.
The biggest demand of waste picker groups is to develop a just transition plan: “A Just Transition must be done in a way that is fair and as inclusive as possible to everyone concerned, creating decent work opportunities and leaving no one behind” reiterated Barbra Weber, one of the Intl. Alliance’s delegates. You can check all details from all delegates here.
In addition, in the opening plenary of the INC, representatives of member states from South and Central America and Small island states mentioned the importance of involving waste pickers and workers in the informal economy. Africa region representatives emphasized the future plastics treaty must have reference to Just Transition for waste-pickers.
The Group of Friends of Waste Pickers is a voluntary and informal platform led by the Member States. Membership is open to all UN Member States who agree to the principles of waste pickers inclusion in the Plastics Treaty process. The International Alliance of Waste Pickers initiated the process of constitution of the Group of Friends in the plastics treaty process, and was supported by: WIEGO (Women in Informal Employment: Globalizing and Organizing), the Government of Uruguay, Tearfund, GAIA (Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives), the Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL) and the Norsk Institut for Vannforskning (NIVA).2022-11_group-friends-wastepickers_english
For more information on waste picker participation in the Global Plastics Treaty negotiations, please visit our webpage: https://globalrec.org/global-meeting/inc-uruguay/