The ISWA 2015 congress comes at a time when many people are looking forward to the next step in the climate debate discussions. Climate, greenhouse gas emissions and energy efficiency have been headlining the (environmental) policy debate for many years now. The subsequent high-level global conferences have created a strong awareness amongst citizens and have instigated a sense of urgency to (re)act. At the same time, this has initiated the development of a range of clean technologies (solar panels, electric vehicles, wind turbines,..).
While this process is on-going we see a new upcoming theme on the horizon. The growing population will increasingly live in megacities. Additionally, on basis of the growing wealth in many parts of the world, a massive growth of consumption can be predicted. This growth will exert heavy pressure on the availability of space and on the price of raw materials. Several countries and regions have developed a notion of criticality or scarcity of materials.
The clean technologies that we need to help solve the climate problem are largely based on these high-value elements (e.g. Indium, Palladium,..) that are produced in limited amounts and in a limited number of places. If the world wants to be able to further develop these products, we will need to change the way in which we manage our raw materials and better mobilise the material stocks in our society. There is ample scope for increasing the recycling of metals, minerals, plastics,… We need to move from a linear production model of mine-produce-use-dispose to a circular system, in which we make the most of our resources and waste. The waste sector can play a key role in this transition, as a key player in the collection, treatment, conversion and management of the materials that we all use and produce. From this perspective, the wave of climate action is a mere predecessor of a new wave of sustainable raw materials management.
It is at this crossroads that ISWA2015 positions itself. The congress reaches out to waste professionals, industrialists, policy makers at all levels from around the globe, researchers and entrepreneurs to consider and discuss their role in this upcoming transition.
Where do we see niches of promising technologies, local initiatives, new business approaches, alternative policy measures that stimulate progress? How can global trade, shipment and treatment of waste complement the existing flows of raw materials and products? How do we deal with waste and materials in densely populated cities? What is the role of local authorities and world-wide organisations, NGOs, industry and research in the development of new tools and measures? What is the role of the consumer in this growing economy? And how can we come up with a world-wide balanced solution for the materials challenge?
We want to hear about your opinion, your approach, your plan in this context. We invite you to come and discuss with representatives from UNEP, the World Bank, OECD, the Clinton Foundation,… with Ministers and Mayors, with top level industrial people, professors and researchers. And we hope this event will motivate you to think further, to innovate, to walk the talk and to make more out of our resources and waste.