UNESCO’s Global Action for Sustainable Waste Management: Preserving the Past, Protecting the Future


The burgeoning global waste crisis poses an unprecedented threat to our planet, impacting both our cultural heritage and the future of humanity. Recognizing this urgency, UNESCO launched the Global Action for Sustainable Waste Management in 2017. This multifaceted initiative aims to preserve our cultural heritage from the devastating effects of waste while safeguarding the environment for future generations.

Promoting Sustainable Waste Management:

UNESCO’s Global Action encourages Member States to:

  • Integrate waste management considerations into cultural heritage management plans.
  • Promote the reuse, recycling, and reduction of waste in cultural institutions and events.
  • Enhance public awareness about the importance of sustainable waste management through education and outreach programs.

Preserving Cultural Heritage:

By reducing waste in cultural spaces such as museums, historical sites, and archaeological areas, we protect the integrity of these heritage sites and the materials that connect us to the past.

Protecting the Environment:

Effective waste management is essential for environmental conservation and sustainability. By reducing waste generation and managing it responsibly, we can mitigate its harmful impacts on ecosystems and air quality.

Global Commitment:

The Global Action has garnered significant support from UNESCO Member States, partners, and civil society. Initiatives like the "Museums and Sustainability: New Roles and Responsibilities" program support museums in implementing sustainable practices.

Key Activities:

  • Development of guidelines and toolkits for sustainable waste management in cultural institutions.
  • Organization of regional and international workshops and training programs.
  • Documentation and dissemination of successful case studies from around the world.
  • Advocacy and awareness-raising at international forums.

Expected Outcomes:

  • Enhanced capacity among cultural heritage institutions to manage waste sustainably.
  • Increased public awareness and understanding of the importance of waste reduction.
  • Implementation of innovative waste management solutions in cultural spaces.


UNESCO’s Global Action for Sustainable Waste Management is a transformative initiative that highlights the interconnectedness between culture, heritage, and the environment. By taking action today, we can preserve the treasures of the past for future generations and create a sustainable future for our planet.


1. What is the primary focus of the Global Action?

The Global Action aims to promote sustainable waste management in cultural heritage institutions and surrounding communities.

2. How does the Global Action support Member States?

It provides guidance, training programs, and funding opportunities to support Member States in implementing sustainable waste management measures.

3. What is the impact of the Global Action on cultural heritage?

By reducing waste, we safeguard cultural heritage from degradation and damage.

4. How can individuals and communities contribute to the Global Action?

By supporting sustainable waste management initiatives in cultural spaces and advocating for responsible waste practices in everyday life.


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