Reasons to be Optimistic for 2016 : ISWA Blog: COP21 and Circular Economy Package Standout in Troubled 2015

ISWA Blog david newman

David Newman, ISWA President, explains that in spite of a troubled year much was achieved in 2015, hopefully paving the way for a brighter 2016.

2015 comes to an end and we all survived it, somehow. I don't think I recall a year with so much bad news. The multiple attacks on Paris, the Germanwings suicide crash in the Alps, the rising number of gun deaths in the US, the continuing disaster in Syria and the mass emigration to Europe. And on the environmental front the deteriorating air quality of major cities in India and China, the rising quantities of waste flowing into our oceans (according to UNEP some 20 million tonnes of plastics this year), and deforestation happening above all in south east Asia. And much, much more.

Depressing stuff eh ?

Yet what a year it has been too! It has really ended positively. Argentina has a new Government which may enact some more sensible economic policies to bring that beautiful country out of its long recession; the Security Council agreed a plan to help resolve the Syrian crisis (let's hope the Syrians agree it too); the Iranians agreed to a plan to reduce their capability to make nuclear weapons; President Obama passed rules to reduce power station emissions by some 30% over the next decade; and we got a deal at the Climate Change conference in Paris. Not a great deal, but the best possible deal when you have 195 countries around the table to negotiate with. And last but not least, the European Commission issued its renewed Circular Economy package which has laid down ambitious targets for the European waste industry over the next two decades.

The world economy grew again in 2015 and Europe recovered somewhat after six years of recession. A long way to go, but the corner seems to have been turned. Commodity prices are at record low levels, bad for countries exporting them and companies recycling them, but good for keeping consumer prices low in those countries importing commodities. And forcing the waste industry to look at its industrial models again.

ISWA has grown and its work is increasingly appreciated globally. I think the staff and Board have visited 50 countries or more this year, the last being Japan and Jordan, where we held a training course on waste. And we gave our small contributions to many of the international bodies shaping the future of the planet towards a more environmentally sustainable economy.

My diary for the first part of 2016 is already full.

So let's end on a note of hope, put the bad news behind us and look forward to a 2016 which will bring us all prosperity and hopefully, peace.

Enjoy the holidays and I look forward to meeting you in 2016 at one of the many events ISWA will organise globally. Happy New Year.

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