Kenya, South Africa launch ‘Just Transition’ initiative to end plastic pollution

KENYA – Kenya and South Africa have announced an initiative to end plastic pollution in a way that is as fair and inclusive as possible to everyone concerned.

The initiative, launched in the aftermath of negotiations on a global treaty to end plastic pollution, aims to create decent work opportunities for waste-pickers and other workers in the plastic value chain.

The first Session of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INC) to phase out plastic was held in Uruguay from November 28 to December 2, 2022.

“The Just Transition initiative “seeks to foster the element of a just transition within the letter and spirit of the proposed legally binding instrument,” announced Ayub Macharia, representative of the Kenyan delegation at the INC session.

According to Macharia, the legally binding instrument ensures the spirit of leaving no one behind. The Just Transition initiative was welcomed by waste pickers present at the INC.

Meanwhile, Maddie Koena, the South African member of the delegation of the International Alliance of Waste Pickers (IAW), asserted the need for the concerned countries to design the plastic treaty with livelihoods and human rights in mind.

IAW is a networking process that connects and supports thousands of waste picker organizations in over 28 countries.

It’s been good this week to see such widespread recognition of the vital role we waste pickers play. Now countries need to design the treaty with our livelihoods and human rights in mind, said Koena.

“I’m very pleased to see my country, South Africa, leading the way on this, alongside Kenya, by launching the Just Transition Initiative as a joint initiative with the International Alliance of Waste pickers (IAW) and other stakeholders,” added Koena.

The initiative is based on making visible waste pickers already working at all stages of the plastic value chain, including workers under informal and cooperative settings and recognizing their fundamental human dignity and historic contribution.

It involves maximizing the social and economic opportunities of ending plastic pollution while minimizing and carefully managing any challenges.

A plan for a just transition will guarantee better and decent work, social protection, training opportunities and greater job security for workers at all stages of the plastic value chain.

A submission on modalities informed by the Just Transition Initiative will be developed in consultation with the IAW and will be finalized in the next few months before the next INC, according to Mamogala Musekene, South African government representative and chair of the Group of Friends of Waste-pickers.

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