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Bravo UNEA for formally recognizing waste pickers

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Last week the United Nations Environment Assembly UNEA approved a momentous resolution in which they agreed to develop a legally binding agreement by the year 2024 in their push to beat plastic pollution which has become a menace all over the world.

Delegates from the UN member states did reach a consensus on the plastics matter at the UNEA- 5.2 convention that was held at UNEP headquarters at Gigiri complex in Nairobi after three days of deeper discussions.

The landmark agreement will address the full life cycle of plastic from source to see that is it will include from the designing of the plastic point to the production stage, look at its circulation, and even managing and prevention of waste.

“The Heads of state, Ministers and other Representatives from the 175 Nations made a historic resolution at the UNEA 5.2 in Nairobi in order to end plastic pollution and forge an internationally legally binding agreement by 2024,” the Ministry of Environment and Forestry said while welcoming the move by UN member states.

“Humanity must recognize that it is interlinked with nature and that we have a shared future. Our planet can no longer endure the stress. Numerous multilateral environmental agreements have been signed and regulations put in place to minimize this risk but the risk continues unabated,” Environment and Forestry CS Keriako Tobiko said while giving his remarks at the UNEA 5 conference.


“Today marks a Triumph by planet earth over single use plastics. This is the most significant environmental multilateral deal since the Paris is an insurance policy for this generation and future ones so they may live with plastic and not be doomed by it,” Inger Andersen Executive Director of UNEP said.

Plastic production amounts to 400 million tonnes per year with the figure now expected to double by the year 2040 more than 8 million tonnes of plastic ends into the sea threatening aquatic life, this according to UNEP.

Let me take this opportunity to thank UN member states for finally recognizing waste pickers I mean this is ground breaking. This new development that would definitely affect millions of people not forgetting many Kenyan youth who make a living out of it .it is the first time these low paid workers have been recognized in an environmental resolution. This resolution will definitely help come up with policies that will protect the waste pickers who most of the times have been left out in the environment and climate change fight. The waste pickers have for a long time been calling for recognition from the international policy makers which they argued previously only focused on plastic as marine litter issue.

Even though waste pickers are seen as not that important in society, they do play a key role in mitigating climate change, and they do that through recycling plastics. There are a number of youth in Nairobi’s informal sector who depend on picking waste to earn a living; these people play an important role in waste management.

Alex Samuel a waste picker from Dandora says lack of recognition by the national and even the county government is one of the challenges which they face this is despite their role in making sure the environment is clean and also in  mitigating climate change.

unajua hii gava haitutambui, inatuaona sisi ni watu wa chini, kama tungekuwa na policy sahii tungekuwa tumepewa mamachine special ya kurecycle garbage lakini for now tuna pick na kupelekea wadosi wana machine kubwa ndio warecycle, so tuna end up kupata doo kidogo. It’s sad that the government doesn’t recognize us, if the government could have taken the initiative to recognize us they could have even bought us a recycling machine that is vital in this business,” Alex said.

Tunataka funding ya kutosha manze ndio tujitegemee ,unajua kubeba hizi plastics si rahisi inahitaji doo. Lack of funding is what is impeding us in this business, this will also help us in the transportation business, you know plastics are heavy,” he added.

Sasa hao wadosi wanasemanga ati ohh climate change…but kitu hawajui ni kuwa sisi watu wakuokota tako na kurecycle ndio watu wa maana. unajua kurecycle ndio njia easy sana na fast ya kureduce Green House gas emisions wanatuchapianga kila siku. we urge the government to recognize waste pickers because recycling is one of the cheapest ways to reduce Green House gas emissions, the authorities don’t  recognize us even though we play a big part in making the environment clean and even mitigate climate change ,” he said.




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