Open waste burning: A global issue

If we end open burning of waste, we can contribute to mitigate almost twenty percent of the global emissions, ISWA president Carlos Silva said at COP26. To achieve that adequate waste management systems are essential.

In an Interview with COP26 TV, the official Channel of the global climate conference in Glasgow, ISWA president Carlos Silva spoke about the problem of open burning of waste. 

Two billion people worldwide are without a waste collection service and three billion people lack an adequate destination for their waste. As a result, this waste ends up in open dumpsites, in the sea or is burned. "There is a lack of awareness that this really is dangerous for the environment, for people’s health. We wanted to bring this topic to COP26 in order to focus on the fact that solutions are urgently needed," Silva explained. Together with partners such as WasteAid, EngineeringX and UN Habitat for a better urban future ISWA organised a panel discussion on November 8, that is still available here. The topic will also be discussed on November 11 in an online event organized by WasteAid. The recording will be available afterwards as well.

"Open burning of waste is causing most of the black carbon emissions worldwide. Black carbon causes damages to the immunological system, the respiratory system, the developing system," Carlos Silva explained. But not only that: "Open dumping and open burning pollutes the soil, the ground water, air, vegetation, food resources. So we have a chain of damages being caused. And according to a recent report of EngineeringX it is the cause of millions of premature deaths every year worldwide, mostly in less developed areas." The highest risk is of course for the people who live close by. "They are very often not aware of the danger but we need to tell people that they are killing themselves." According to the ISWA president a sound waste management must be considered as a basic human right. "We really need to provide adequate waste collection systems. For that we need to have a governance scheme that includes infrastructure, finance, framework, engagement of different stakeholders."

The problem of course is not only a local one. "If we end open dumping, if we end open burning and provide better waste management systems we can contribute to mitigate almost twenty percent of the global emissions", Silva says. "We have many partners so that we can support concrete projects to show the world that it’s possible to make it happen. And we want to present those projects next year at the COP27 in Africa.