Waste Management is one of the fast growing issues in developing countries. The sub-region of South Asia, which covers about 12% of the Asian continent or 3.5% of the world's land surface area, is no exception. It is home to about 1.8 billion people and generates approximately 50 million tonnes of waste per year of which 33 million tonnes (70%) is organic waste. This high percentage of organic waste is a unique aspect for developing management plans and treatment options. However, waste collection rates are low (50%–60%) with uncontrolled dumping into rivers, and open spaces, causing severe public and environmental health problems. The most prevalent treatment is landfilling, as it is the cheapest and easiest way to dispose wastes. However, most landfills are not scientifically engineered and are poorly maintained, effectively turning into open, unsanitary dumpsites causing public health and environmental risks.
Against this background, both Global Waste Management Outlook (GWMO, 2015) and followed by the Asia Waste Management Outlook (AWMO, 2017) of the United Nations Environment Programme (UN Environment) has recommended both national and local governments work with all stakeholders in addressing the waste management issue in a more integrated manner emphasising waste hierarchy, zero waste, lifecycle and sustainable consumption and production (SCP) thinking towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and other global commitments. The GWMO also identifies five priority goals – (i) Access to adequate waste collection service for all; (ii) Stop uncontrolled dumping and waste burning; (iii) Substantially reduce waste by 3Rs; (iv) Reduce food waste losses; and (v) implement environmentally sound management of all industrial, chemical and other hazardous waste) to enable government actions in improving waste management towards achieving SDGs and Paris Agreement.
Towards this aim, both reports recognised the importance of having a sub-regional and regional mechanism for the coordination, networking and harmonising of necessary policy directions. To fulfil this need, United Nations Environment Programme - International Environmental Technology Centre (UNEP-IETC) and IGES Centre Collaborating with UNEP on Environmental Technologies (CCET) aim to work with other regional and sub-regional partners and respective governments in creating a South Asia Sub-regional Platform, a venue for promoting political and policy dialogue and enhancing partnerships for addressing the Sustainable Waste Management Goals towards achieving SDGs in the sub-region.