I was really positively surprised when I visited the Informal Waste Sector Knowledge Hub. I think that it deserves a thorough reading of the many materials that are posted and I am asking my readers to visit it and have a look at:
It is really a very good initiative aimed to highlight the informal sector contribution to waste management worldwide and to deliver knowledge and tools to those who are interested about informal sector.
Although some of the ideas presented there need further discussion and more detailed assessment, we have to remember that we are living a tsunami of urbanization and this tsunami has the form of new urban informal settlements.
So even if someone does not like at all the idea of informal sector as a stakeholder in waste management, the issue is not ideological at all. More than 70% of the urban growth is happening informally so the waste management industry and the governing authorities must not ignore or underestimate the role of informal sector in waste management. Instead of the more or less arrogant confrontation that is the current dominant view, governments, municipalities and companies have to look closer and find ways to integrate informal waste management to more formal and effective approaches.
This is absolutely necessary for two reasons.
First, because informal sector contributes a lot to recycling and recovery authorities but also it contributes a lot to black market conditions and unhealthy activities which create health risks for urban dwellers.
Second, because informal sector activities are not something temporary or something that will be a short – term condition. With more than 280.000 people coming everyday to megacities, worldwide, informal settlements will be a permanent form of urbanization for many years. And this has to be addressed with the right political, social and financial initiatives.
Last but not least, although I am sure that many of my friends and colleagues will not like this statement, I guess that there is something more about it. The first wave of urbanization, 300 years ago, resulted to the French Revolution and the Industrial Revolution, which really affect our lives up to now.
The current second wave of urbanization seems like a tsunami comparing to the first one and I am sure that it will bring its own revolutions, through the power of social co-evolution in megacities, through the new instant and long-term connections of the poor incomers with permanent residents and urban markets. If someone shares this opinion, as I do, then the logical consequence is that in waste management a lot of innovation will come from those who need it more in order to survive and improve their life. From those that have to manage waste with limited resources and find resources from limited access to waste. Welcome to the Informal Silicon Valley…