An end to electronic waste: United Nations organizations highlight their commitment

On Wednesday 21st March 2018, organizations from the United Nations system, most active in addressing the global e-waste challenge, signed a Letter of Intent paving the way for coordination and collaboration on United Nations system-wide support for e-waste management.

The signatories organizations included: UN Environment, the International Telecommunication Union, United Nations University, International Labour Organization, the Basel and Stockholm Convention, the United Nations Institute for Training and Research, and the United Nations Industrial Development Organization.

The transition towards a more digital world and a growing information society and economy offer unprecedented opportunities for sustainable development. At the same time, they contribute to the growth of the global consumption of electrical and electronic equipment, and – consequently – to growing amounts of electronic waste.

The signing of the Letter of Intent stems from the ongoing work of the Environment Management Group, which is currently coordinating United Nations organisations to promote system-wide action and collaboration in the area of e-waste. Two major reports on the global e-waste situation and the United Nations efforts to address the e-waste challenge, were released at the end of 2017.

The Environment Management Group report on the United Nations System-wide Response to Tackling E-waste highlighted the need for strengthened collaboration among United Nations organizations, with over 20 organizations active in tackling e-waste and over 150 e-waste initiatives having been undertaken since 2004. The Global E-waste Monitor, developed by the International Telecommunication Union, United Nations University and International Solid Waste Association has highlighted the increasing generation of e-waste; in 2016 some 44.7 million metric tons of e-waste were generated globally.

Through the Environment Management Group, the United Nations organizations active in addressing e-waste will seek to strengthen their collaboration in light of the signing of the Letter of Intent. Some of the outcomes expected include the increased recognition of the e-waste related work of these organizations, deeper discourse with electronics manufacturers and recyclers, longer-term negotiations towards an E-waste Coalition and the partnering with interested private sector entities to develop a knowledge sharing platform to host information on United Nations e-waste projects, and global statistics and data relating to e-products and e-waste.

Click here to access the full report.