By Janet Ekstract
NEW YORK – Turkiye’s Zero Waste initiative is now part of a U.N. General Assembly resolution, passed on December 14, that calls for U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to invite the U.N. body’s Environment Program to include a “dedicated section on zero-waste initiatives,” including activities and experiences of those initiatives. The Turkish initiative was first launched in 2017 by the Turkish Ministry of Environment, Urban Planning and Climate Change under the patronage of Turkish First Lady, Emine Erdogan to combat climate change and fast-track sustainable development goals. The historic resolution was presented along with 105 other countries and uses zero waste projects to explore efforts on the front for sustainable development.
Turkiye’s Zero Waste Project has been at the forefront of combating climate change with the initiative’s goal of bringing Turkiye in line with sustainable development principles, preventing uncontrolled waste and to keep a “cleaner, developed” nation for future generations. The project received awards in 2021 from the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and the U.N.-Habitat program besides being included in an Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) country report in 2019 as a promising project. The project was most recently honored by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Mediterranean before the Turkish First Lady was awarded the Climate and Development Leadership award for the Zero Waste Initiative by the World Bank. Emine Erdogan also signed a goodwill agreement with the UN secretary-general to extend Turkiye’s Zero Waste Initiative throughout the world. Meanwhile, Guterres lauded the Turkish project, calling on member countries to expand the Zero Waste Initiative across the world as part of a much larger environmental initiative.
Since the launch of the Zero Waste Initiative, close to 150,000 buildings across Turkiye have switched to a zero waste management system that utilizes separate disposal of garbage and recycling practices. In 2019, the Turkish ministry drafted a resolution on this issue with recycling guidelines and practices. So far, at least 17 million people in Turkiye have been educated on zero waste practices since the project launched in 2017.
Meanwhile, the U.N. also declared March 30, the International Day of Zero Waste in the resolution which requires Guterres to create a three-year advisory board of individuals selected on the basis of “knowledge, experience and expertise” to promote local and national zero waste practices. The decision was made to include zero waste initiatives in the next Global Waste Management Outlook Report published by the U.N. Environment Program. The president of the U.N. General Assembly made a high-level decision on “zero waste” and a “10-Year Framework Program for Sustainable Production and Consumption Models” in 2023.