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Waste management and a circular economy

Waste in the 2030 Agenda

The Global Goals

Waste management and a circular economy play a key role in the 2030 Agenda, especially in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for sustainable cities and communities (SDG 11), for responsible consumption and production (SDG 12) and for life below water (SDG 14):

  • ​SDG 11.6: By 2030, reduce the adverse per capita environmental impact of cities, including by paying special attention to air quality and municipal and other waste management.
  • ​SDG 12.4: By 2020, achieve the environmentally sound management of chemicals and all wastes throughout their life cycle, in accordance with agreed international frameworks, and significantly reduce their release to air, water and soil in order to minimise their adverse impacts on human health and the environment.
  • ​SDG 12.5: By 2030, substantially reduce waste generation through prevention, reduction, recycling and reuse.
  • ​SDG 14.1: By 2025, prevent and significantly reduce marine pollution of all kinds, in particular from land-based activities, including marine debris and nutrient pollution.

Developing fully-functional waste management systems and a circular economy contributes positively to achieving other goals, too, for example those for health (SDG 3), decent work (SDG 8) and climate action (SDG 13).

Important steps on the road to implementation

The Habitat III Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development held in Quito in October 2016 was a first important milestone on the road to implementing these goals. Participating countries confirmed their objective of establishing sustainable waste management systems and a circular economy.

A United Nations Conference to Support the Implementation of SDG 14 to conserve the oceans was held in New York in June 2017. One of the items on the agenda of the conference was addressing marine pollution. In 2018 the United Nations High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) will review progress made with regard to sustainable urban development (SDG 11) and responsible consumption and production (SDG 12).


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