Waste Pickers at the United Nations Climate Change Conferences

Waste pickers contribute to the conservation of natural resources and energy while reducing air and water pollution. They also reduce greenhouse gas emissions through the reuse of materials. Around the globe, waste pickers are organizing and fighting for recognition of their significant environmental contributions.

WIEGO is a partner in the Global Alliance of Waste Pickers and Allies, which brings waste pickers from Latin America, Asia and Africa together with support organizations and environmentalists to offer real solutions for climate change mitigation and waste management. Through collective action, they have voiced their concerns and demands at international climate change meetings worldwide. 

The Global Alliance of Waste Pickers and Allies took part in the following climate change conferences and events:

Waste Pickers at UN Climate Change Conferences

Waste picker delegates made their voices heard at the United Nations Climate Change Conferences in Durban (COP 17, 2011) and Cancun (COP 16, 2010). At both, waste pickers played an active role, garnering media attention at their press conferences, speaking engagements, demonstrations and events.

As they had at COP 15 in Copenhagen (December 2009), waste pickers advocated for alternative funding mechanisms to support fair and just solutions to climate change. At a panel meeting with key climate change negotiators, including the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) board, they voiced their core demands:

  • recognize the crucial role the informal recycling sector plays in climate change mitigation and a healthy economy
  • approve a Global Climate Fund to invest in resource recovery programs that will ensure decent livelihoods for all workers, and that are directly accessible by waste pickers and other informal economy groups
  • exclude waste disposal technologies (such as incinerators) from the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) and other climate funds, as these destroy valuable reclaimable materials and take income from workers

To follow the ongoing activities of waste pickers on the world stage, visit the Global Alliance of Waste Pickers website at  www.globalrec.org.