Empowering Cities to Clean Up: UN-HABITAT’s Waste Management Initiatives Across the Globe


Waste management remains a significant challenge faced by urban centers worldwide. As populations grow and urbanization expands, the volume of waste generated in cities escalates, leading to environmental degradation, public health risks, and economic burdens. Recognizing the urgency of this issue, the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-HABITAT) has undertaken numerous initiatives to empower cities to clean up and sustainably manage their waste.

UN-HABITAT’s Global Initiatives

UN-HABITAT’s approach to waste management focuses on empowering cities to take ownership of their waste challenges. This involves:

  • Promoting integrated waste management systems: Encouraging the implementation of comprehensive waste reduction and recycling programs.
  • Enhancing collection and transportation: Strengthening waste collection infrastructure and logistics.
  • Boosting waste treatment and disposal: Investing in technologies and infrastructure for waste processing and disposal.
  • Empowering local communities: Engaging communities in waste management activities and fostering public-private partnerships.

Examples of Successful Initiatives

Across the globe, UN-HABITAT has supported various successful waste management initiatives:

  • Solid Waste Management in Phnom Penh, Cambodia: Implementing a citywide waste collection and sorting system using tricycles and establishing composting centers.
  • Sustainable Waste Management in Curitiba, Brazil: Developing a waste collection and treatment plant that converts waste into energy and fertilizer.
  • Integrated Solid Waste Management in Dhaka, Bangladesh: Reducing waste generation through source reduction and promoting recycling.

Key Challenges

Despite these efforts, several challenges impede waste management progress in many cities:

  • Limited resources and infrastructure
  • Informal waste sectors
  • Lack of public awareness and participation
  • Complex governance and coordination

Future Directions

UN-HABITAT recognizes the need for continued investment and innovation in waste management. Future priorities include:

  • Promoting circular economy principles
  • Expanding the use of technology for waste management
  • Strengthening regional and international collaboration


UN-HABITAT’s waste management initiatives empower cities to take ownership of their environmental responsibility and create sustainable urban environments. By fostering collaboration, sharing best practices, and implementing innovative solutions, UN-HABITAT is helping cities around the world to achieve cleaner and healthier communities.


1. What are the main goals of UN-HABITAT’s waste management initiatives?

The main goals are to reduce waste generation, improve collection and treatment, and promote recycling and resource recovery.

2. How does UN-HABITAT support cities in waste management?

UN-HABITAT provides technical assistance, funding opportunities, and knowledge-sharing platforms to cities.

3. What are some of the challenges faced in waste management in cities?

Challenges include limited resources, infrastructure gaps, and public awareness issues.

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