An End to Electronic Waste – Building the E-waste Coalition
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UN organizations that are active on addressing global e-waste have signed a Letter of Intent paving the way for coordination and collaboration on United Nations system-wide support for e-waste management.

Envisaged plans to be pursued through the Letter of Intent include more engagement with electronics manufacturers and recyclers and pilot projects to address downstream e-waste management activities and consumer behavior.

On Wednesday, 21 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 included: UN Environment, the International Telecommunication Union, United Nations University, International Labour Organization, the Basel and Stockholm Conventions, the United Nations Institute for Training and Research, and the United Nations Industrial Development Organization.

The transition towards a more digital, information, and knowledge society offers unprecedented opportunities for sustainable development. However, with the emergence of such a society arises the growth of the global consumption of electrical and electronic equipment that leads to a global challenge in electronic waste. The signing of the Letter of Intent contributes to the ongoing work of the Environment Management Group, which is currently coordinating United Nations organizations 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. On one hand, 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. It also presented over 150 e-waste initiatives that have been undertaken since 2004. On the other hand, 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 and noted that in 2016 some 44.7 million metric tonnes of e-waste were generated globally.

The Letter of Intent paves the way for a coordinated effort across United Nations organizations in addressing the challenge of e-waste. Some of the envisaged plans may include negotiations towards an e-waste coalition, more engagement with electronics manufacturers and recyclers, pilot projects to address downstream e-waste management activities and consumer behavior, and 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.

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