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Cities & Subnationals


Almost three quarters of global GHG emissions are emitted on urban territories. Cities are therefore key to addressing and adapting to climate change by adopting a low-carbon, resilient economies. Many cities are leading - and so are many subnational governments - in cutting emissions and greening infrastructures. Photo ©Wyliepoon

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Website: http://new.ccacoalition.org/en/initiatives/waste
Contact: Tiy.Chung@unep.org


Landfills are the third largest source of anthropogenic methane (CH4) emissions, accounting for approximately 11% of estimated global methane emissions. The sector is responsible for both near and long -term climate impacts and creates serious air pollution in cities, affecting human health. Population growth, urbanisation and changing consumption patterns, means the amount of municipal solid waste will nearly double worldwide by 2025[1], increasing pressure on cities to manage this growing economic, environmental, and social challenge. Reducing Short Lived Climate Pollutants (SLCPs) through well-managed waste systems will contribute to overall efforts to mitigate climate change and could have significant health, environmental, and economic co-benefits, including improved quality of life for local communities.


The Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) Initiative’s goal is to enable cities to develop robust waste management systems to achieve real and immediate SLCP reductions and other development benefits. The initiative provides a comprehensive package of resources and technical capacity building to facilitate the design and implementation of locally appropriate actions. Through a unique city mentoring programme the initiative helps cities access resources that improve their waste management practices and reduce SLCP emissions.

There are two different roles that cities play when joining the Initiative:

  • Participating cities gain access to resources to improve their waste management practices and reduce SLCP emissions.
  • Mentor cities that are already advanced in waste management exchange information about improving practices and reducing SLCP emissions.

By bringing together technical experts and policy-makers at all levels, the Initiative aims to help 1000 cities develop robust waste management systems by 2020. Success for the initiative would mean cities and national governments are able to track their emissions reductions in a standardized way, can self-fund or obtain sustainable financing for capital projects that reduce and prevent emissions, and  scale up actions beyond target cities, ideally fostering north-south and south-south cooperation.

Current city parings include: Viña del Mar, Chile with Stockholm, Sweden; Cali, Colombia with San Diego, USA; Cebu City, Philippines with Kitakyushu City, Japan; and Sao Paolo, Brazil with Copenhagen, Denmark.

What is CCAC doing?

The Initiative supports cities in their efforts to transform the waste sector and move up the waste hierarchy by capturing the material and energy value inherent in their waste (through recycling, composting, digestion, etc.) and implementing solutions that generate economic, financial, social and climate benefits.

Specific actions comprise:

  • preventing and/or reducing waste generation,
  • strengthening policy planning and scaling up individual city action to the national level,
  • banning open burning and open dumping,
  • diverting organics from landfills,
  • optimising waste collection routes and transportation of waste,
  • recovering methane from landfills for energy production before they are emitted.

The MSW Initiative offers the following types of assistance:

  • Training and capacity building for city officials and waste management staff;
  • Direct technical assistance to develop waste management assessments and feasibility studies, and MSW master plans;
  • Support in identifying and promoting financing for waste projects;
  • Information exchange and networking that encourages peer-to-peer learning and enables cities to share best practices and success stories.

Progress highlights

The Waste Initiative is undertaking city baseline assessments of the waste situation in 6 additional cities and work plans for additional 4, bringing the total number of city assessments supported to 30 and work plans for 16.

An Emissions Quantification Tool that enables cities to identify suitable alternative solutions and define climate friendly waste management systems has been launched.

A results-based funding mechanism for one pilot city was tested in Penang/Malaysia where households were incentivised to separate solid waste at source in order to maximise the quality and quantity of the source-separated recyclables and organic waste. It is now being adopted more widely.

[1] Source: World Bank

Photo credit: Bill McChesney (Flickr)


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