Event draws 245 participants from 60 countries
By Maria Beatriz RosellAlongside policy challenges to address increased waste generation and sustainable development solutions, there is growing interest worldwide to promote waste minimisation, develop green businesses such as recycling and energy recovery, and to implement measures to assure that local authorities meet targets concerning waste management systems and regulations. For these purposes, institutional support and knowledge exchange are one of the essential elements to improve.
In this sense, the International Solid Waste Association (ISWA) is one of the world's most important waste sector organisations. ISWA, established in 1972, comprises an international network of 80 member countries. The organisation's objective is to create a pool of knowledge drawing from expertise within the scientific community, public institutions and private companies.
This year's ISWA World Solid Waste Congress took place in Florence on September 17-19, and inspired by the recent Rio+20 Summit. Participants from more than 60 nations were present, including large delegations from Brazil and several European countries. As many as 245 speakers presented studies concerning waste management, climate change, zero waste, prevention policies (mainly connected to the EU regulations) and international waste trading. Other topics included waste sector crises in developing countries, recycling, treatment, urban hygiene and final residues management. From a European perspective, much attention was given to extended producer responsibility (EPR); other regions turned more attention to the successful implementation of waste hierarchy and an equivalent concept of waste prevention.
Bringing people together
I am grateful for having had the opportunity to participate in the ISWA 2012 Congress as a speaker in the Ibero-American Session on September 18. I presented the results of a study carried out at Lund University in Sweden concerning municipal solid waste management planning in the Latin American Region and Venezuela, as well as an analysis of Venezuela's new legislation on waste and residues. Planning guidelines were recommended during this session for improving Venezuela's waste sector. Among the most relevant suggestions were: institutional strengthening, environmental awareness and enhanced communication, and larger investment in waste sector infrastructure. Furthermore, the establishment of contacts between speakers and moderators in one of the sessions dedicated to the South Eastern European Region led to plans for participation of waste management experts at a forthcoming REC-sponsored event titled 'Mitigating GHG Emissions through Improved Waste Management Systems in the Western Balkans', which will be held on November 6-7, 2012 in Belgrade.
In light of the REC's role as one of the Sub-Regional Secretariats of the IPLA initiative (International Partnership for Expanding Waste Management Services of Local Authorities), one of the actions to be taken is addressing waste prevention policies in Central and Eastern Europe. The ISWA 2012 Congress proved to be beneficial, as the event brought together a wide range of stakeholders within the waste sector and possible partners for future events at which participants can share knowledge and new approaches towards sustainable management of waste and residues.