The first Earth Day was celebrated in the USA on 22 April 1970.
In a collaboration that highlights key twenty-first century aspects of Earth Day’s four-decade-long focus on accelerating a green economy and promoting environmental awareness, the Solving the E-waste Problem (StEP) initiative — which is hosted by the United Nations University — and the Global eSustainability Initiative (GeSI) today announced a partnership to address the global challenge of electronic waste.
Information communications technologies (ICT) have tremendous potential to help businesses and societies to dramatically reduce their impact on the environment, through solutions such as smarter (more energy efficient) electrical grids and buildings, improved logistical systems and motors, and virtualization. But as the ICT industry grows rapidly, increasing quantities of waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) —including items such as mobile phone handsets, desktop and laptop computers, home entertainment devices and workplace servers — are entering the waste stream in countries across the world. This WEEE contains a wide range of hazardous materials; up to 60 elements from the periodic table can be found in complex electronics.
GeSI aims to build capacity so that these products are disposed of in a responsible manner, and their component materials are reused or recycled to the greatest extent possible. The aim of the GeSI/StEP partnership is to help build capacity in e-waste management, especially in developing countries.
In the latter part of 2011, GeSI, StEP and UNU will jointly organize an E-Waste Academy to share existing knowledge and research into effective e-waste management and regulation with policy makers, recyclers and other stakeholders from developing markets.
“We will also collaborate on research to identify key success factors for e-waste policy by developing an index for countries’ performance in this regard”, said Ruediger Kuehr, Executive Secretary of StEP and Head of the UNU-ISP Bonn-based SCYCLE (Sustainable Cycles) Operating Unit, which hosts the Secretariat of the StEP Initiative.
“As we transition to a low-carbon economy, the rapid deployment of innovative ICT solutions is enabling all sectors of the economy to reduce their carbon emissions and impact on the environment,” commented Luis Neves, Chairman of GeSI. “Our industry needs to ensure that these ICT products are disposed of in a responsible manner at their end of life. Our vision is for the sector to move from managing risks to encouraging more efficient use and more extensive re-use of e-waste. Our partnership with StEP will address the need to build capacity for e-waste management amongst all actors in the value chain, so that e-waste is viewed as a valuable resource.”
“As global consumption of electronics grows exponentially, the role of StEP in bringing the various stakeholders together to address e-waste becomes even more paramount,” observed Stephanie Adrian, Chair of the StEP Steering Committee. “Together with GeSI, StEP has the opportunity to draw on their realm of expertise in a way that reaches both developed and developing countries, and that grows the global capacity to develop practicable but science-based solutions to the e-waste problem.”
Through this collaboration, GeSI and StEP will promote more sustainable societies, thereby working towards fulfilling the environmental protection values that helped to launch Earth Day 41 years ago.
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The Global e-Sustainability Initiative (GeSI) is uniquely dedicated to information and communication technologies (ICT) sustainability through innovation.
Solving the E-waste Problem (StEP) is an initiative of various UN organizations coordinated by the United Nations University with the overall aim to solve the e-waste problem.