INTERNATIONAL ALLIANCE OF WASTE PICKERS

The International Alliance of Waste Pickers is a networking process supported by WIEGO, among thousands of waste picker organizations with groups in more than 28 countries covering mainly Latin America, Asia and Africa.
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December 02, 2022


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Just Transition Initiative builds on the Group of Friends of Waste-pickers launched a day before the INC began.

“Kenya would like to take this opportune moment to inform the plenary of the ‘Just Transition Initiative’ which is a joint initiative with the delegation of South Africa and the International Alliance of Waste Pickers and other relevant stakeholders, that seeks to foster the element of a just transition within the letter and spirit of the proposed legally binding instrument. Distinguished delegates, the Kenyan delegation would like to invite interested Member States who wish to secure an all-inclusive legally binding instrument that ensures the spirit of ‘leaving no one behind’, to approach the Kenyan or South African delegations for further engagement moving forward,” announced Dr. Ayub Macharia, representative of the Kenyan delegation in the recently concluded Intergovernmental Negotiations Committee meeting in Uruguay. The Just Transition Initiative builds on the Group of Friends of Waste Pickers inaugurated and hosted by the Government of Uruguay.

Dr. Ayub Macharia announcing Just Transition Initiative in the INC.

Dr. Ayub Macharia announcing Just Transition Initiative in the INC.

The Just Transition initiative was welcomed by waste pickers present at the INC1. A just transition is defined as ending plastic pollution in a way that is as fair and inclusive as possible to everyone concerned, creating decent work opportunities and leaving no one behind. It is based on making visible those already working at all stages of the plastic value chain, including workers under informal and cooperative settings, especially waste pickers, and recognizing their fundamental human dignity, and their historic contribution. It involves maximizing the social and economic opportunities of ending plastic pollution while minimizing and carefully managing any challenges – including through effective social dialogue among all groups impacted, and respect for fundamental human rights. A plan for a just transition will provide and guarantee better and decent work, social protection, more training opportunities, and greater job security for workers at all stages of the plastic value chain including workers in informal and cooperative settings, especially waste pickers, (because of the unique circumstances) and all workers affected by plastic pollution. Its specific outworking will depend on local context and local consultation.

“It’s been good this week to see such widespread recognition of the vital role we waste pickers play. Now countries need to design the treaty with our livelihoods and human rights in mind. Personally I’m very pleased to see my country South Africa leading the way on this, alongside Kenya, by launching the Just Transition Initiative as a joint initiative with the International Alliance of Waste Pickers and other stakeholders,” said Maddie Koena, the South African member of the delegation of International Alliance of Waste Pickers. Soledad Mella Vidal, a waste picker from Chile welcomed the initiative, “In these important negotiations, a concept of Just Transition has been proposed which emphasizes decent work and human and our interpretation of a Just Transition is clear: guaranteeing that waste pickers can remain and advance in value chains, improving our working conditions, and ongoing investment in our work.” Barbra Weber, waste picker delegate from the United States of America added, “Just Transition is not only for those of us who collect and process plastics, but also for those of us who live and work amidst the pollution from plastics production and management. This requires direct funding for our communities, appropriate technology transfer, and decent and safe work in reuse, repair and mechanical recycling.”

South African, Kenyan and Uruguayan government delegates along with the delegation of the International Alliance of Waste Pickers. Picture Courtesy: John O. Chweya.

South African, Kenyan and Uruguayan government delegates along with the delegation of the International Alliance of Waste Pickers. Picture Courtesy: John O. Chweya.

Ms. Mamogala Musekene, South African Government representative and chair of the Group of Friends of Waste-pickers shared that a submission on modalities informed by the Just Transition Initiative will be developed in consultation with the International Alliance of Waste-pickers and will be finalized in the next few months before the next INC.