The quick of it

By Nathan Thanki

CSD-19 is only 3 days old, but already we’re seeing significant weakening of the Chair’s Draft negotiating document. Sad to say, it’s a case of the usual suspects: JUSCANZ. The United States is relentlessly pushing forth the idea that waste is a “resource,” like oil or gold, and should be exploited for economic benefit. The sad thing is that, with many people in developing countries basing their livelihoods in the informal waste management sector, the G77 agrees. Because they have so much waste, most of it from Europe [see], many African countries see it as a vital resource. But all this white washes over the fact that waste is not benign “debris” (as Canada insists on calling it throughout much of the text) or “materials” (as the US prefers).

Paradoxically – because a justification of saying material is that it is a broad, inclusive word – the list of waste types has decreased rather than expanded as we would have liked, to ignore nuclear waste or waste generated by armed conflict (which the Ghanaian delegate, speaking for G77, told me “is barely anything”). In fact the impact of crisis and armed conflict on waste management is being seriously and irresponsibly overlooked by delegations, despite the MGCY seriously lobbying for at least an acknowledgement in the text. As a SustainUS member has well researched, war has serious impacts on waste management. In war, normal procedure no longer applies. It is the breakdown of waste infrastructure, as well as increased waste and dangerous waste from the destructive nature of war that deeply connects armed conflict to this thematic issue. So after the dizzying heights of yesterday (having 3 of our amendments get into the draft, in one case word for word), today was a long way down. Language relating to existing conventions (Basel, Bamako etc) was almost pushed out (the EU weighed in favourably after the US and Canada had proposed deleting, which tipped the balance).  Canada wanted to remove references to corporate waste and corporate responsibility. The US wants rid of any mention of targets (not like them to do that…) and so on and so forth. But it’s not all bad news: in BOTH SCP and Transport, the MGCY have an intervention pencilled in for the end of the session. Hopefully they can shake some sense into these negotiations, and inject some urgency…


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