New York Climate Week 2023 has come and gone, leaving behind both a flash flood and a wave of inspiration around climate action. As the waters recede – a timely reminder of the crisis we are facing – it’s time to reflect on what came out of the global gathering.
Mirroring the growing awareness of the issues, this year’s Climate Week was the biggest ever, with a staggering 600 official events spread across the week, covering a range of environmental topics and creating a vibrant tapestry of viewpoints and solutions. Whilst it did not happen without disruption, including the largest climate demonstration since before the pandemic, it also enabled some hopeful discussions and commitments, under the overarching theme of “We Can. We Will”.
Attending on behalf of environmental nonprofit, Delterra, I was encouraged to see the increased emphasis on waste-related topics – an issue that would not have received such attention just a few years ago! This reaffirms the importance of the work Delterra is doing in addressing one of the world’s most pressing environmental challenges.
During the week, I joined my colleagues Shannon Bouton, President & CEO; Jeremy Douglas, Director of Partnerships; Mike Stockman, Director of Plastic IQ; Federico di Penta, Director of Rethinking Recycling for LATAM; and Lalit Matai, Director of Rethinking Recycling for Asia.
Together with our Partners, we were delighted to co-host two side-events on integrated waste management, as well as participate in numerous other discussions, including the US Government launch of the End Plastic Pollution International Collaborative (EPPIC). Here are some of our key takeaways:
- Funding gap in solid waste management: There is an estimated $40bn USD funding gap in solid waste management, identified by the IFC. Whilst the Global Plastic Treaty poses a once-in-a-generation opportunity to address some of the challenges in the system, it needs to be supported by the funds to deliver this change on the ground.
- Long-term financial commitments needed: Investments in the downstream management of the full waste stream will struggle to deliver strong returns on investment but we need to make sure that funds are accessible and that financial commitments are not expected to be short term.
- Capability building will be critical: In addition to funding, there is a huge amount of capability building needed at all levels. As Delterra has experienced through its Rethinking Recycling program in Indonesia and Argentina, it is critical to work closely with communities to build the knowledge and expertise around waste.
- Standardized guidance: Today, there is insufficient standardized guidance available to countries on what it takes to successfully transform waste management. Whilst some geographies have made significant improvements, this is not being cascaded effectively.
- Voluntary corporate efforts still needed: And lastly, voluntary efforts will not be enough but are still needed. Whilst the hope is that regulation such as the Plastic Treaty will lead to more harmonized national and international efforts, voluntary action helps us figure out what works and can then be scaled with the support of legal frameworks.
It was an honor to be part of these important discussions and I’m inspired by the continued energy of those working on these big challenges.
Thank you to all those who have joined Delterra on this journey. We hope to see you at future events and invite you to join us in driving real change, at scale. Together, we can create a sustainable and resilient future for our planet.
This blog was written and contributed by:
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