Waste less, manage better
Exploring Municipal solid waste management in the MENA region
through an interdisciplinary perspective
The Heinrich Böll Foundation, represented through its offices in Rabat, Tunis, Ramallah and Beirut, welcomes applicants from the MENA region to apply for the 8th Regional Summer School that will take place from 27 June to 01 July 2022 in Rabat, Morocco. It aims to provide young professionals from civil society, community-supported initiatives, start-ups and researchers a space to exchange, debate and learn about the multiple dimensions of waste – starting from its generation (production and consumption patterns) to its management (policy frameworks for collection and recycling) and potential alternatives (innovative solutions). Through inputs, group work sessions and field trips, participants will learn about the different perspectives regarding achievements, progress, constraints and shortcomings of municipal solid waste management in the MENA region.
The world’s population is expected to increase by 2 billion persons in the next 30 years, from 7.7 billion currently to 9.7 billion in 2050, according to a United Nations report launched in 2019. This will have a considerable impact on the amount of waste mankind will produce.
As nations and cities develop economically, urbanize and increase their populations and industries, it is to be predicted that global waste generation and Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) in particular will increase steadily and correspondingly. This increase is expected to happen especially in the southern hemisphere mainly due to socio-economic transformations occurring here more rapidly leading to accelerated economic development, urbanization and changes in consumption patterns.
The MENA region is directly concerned by this trend, which can already be observed in many places. At the beginning of 2020, Egypt’s population for instance hit the mark of 100 Million. Cairo, being one of the largest cities in the world, is now home to more than 15 million inhabitants including a growing number of middle class households consuming more and more conveniently packaged products. Given these numbers and confronting them with the often-poor local governance structures, MSW management remains a huge challenge for both cities and communities.
Similar to Cairo, many other cities in the MENA region such as Casablanca, Tunis, Amman or Beirut are rapidly expanding, revealing new environmental and social challenges. Managing waste and minimizing associated environmental impacts has become one of the central concerns, particularly in MENA countries, where inadequacies and weaknesses shape local (waste) governance and management systems. Known for being the biggest city in Morocco, Casablanca for instance provides evidence of these deficiencies and shortcomings. According to the World Bank, before a recent reform in 2008 only 70 percent of urban MSW was collected and less than 10 percent of collected waste was being disposed of in an environmentally and socially acceptable manner. Most of the urban waste ended up on one of the 300 uncontrolled dumpsites. Like in many other cities of the region, here it is treated by informal waste pickers. Despite their crucial role for local waste management, they remain largely unrecognized, socially marginalized with rights at risk, and their business not regulated yet by the authorities.
With urban growth, consumption rates are also increasing significantly in the MENA region, contributing to an increase in the quantity of household waste and especially plastic waste. The global trend towards convenience food and take-away meals is already now leading to an increase of single use plastic packaging. Even though the percentage of plastic in the average household waste in MENA is still relatively low compared to Europe, the composition will most likely change in the coming years, thus, further exacerbating the already existing plastic pollution problem in many countries. Plastic waste is in fact a global problem; between 1950 and 2017 a total of 9.2 billion tons of plastic were produced, only 10% of which has been recycled.
The current economic model generates high amounts of waste that, in most cases, do not get reused or recycled. Generally, MSW management in the MENA region focuses mainly on sending waste to landfills or incinerators, a very common option that may be considered unsustainable as it rather focuses on the consequences (i.e. waste disposal) instead of addressing the roots of the problem (i.e. over-exploitation of natural resources, unsustainable product design, as well as consumption patterns). Waste is therefore mostly handled with “end-of-pipe” approaches, rather than precautionary forward-looking, long-term measures aiming to limit its generation and stimulate circular resource flows.
Against this background, more upstream measures as well as a different set of approaches are needed to sustainably tackle the challenge of MSW management in the MENA region. The creation of innovative ways to “reconsider waste” and transform it into reusable products would not only create an opportunity for ecological projects and businesses in the region, but these advancements could also positively contribute towards sustainable development of MENA countries. In fact, the incompletely developed waste disposal systems in the region offer a unique opportunity for economic progress – an opportunity that only needs to be seized.
THE REGIONAL SUMMER SCHOOL
The Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung organizes regional summer schools to empower young change-makers and to stir a debate on important current issues. The Summer School will provide participants with interesting insights and different viewpoints from the region and offer an excellent platform for exchanging ideas and sharing experiences. The program promotes networking among civil society actors, researchers, and activists in the region working in the fields of citizen participation and intervention in the urban space, local governance, sustainable development, gender and environment.
Against this background, this year’s Regional Summer School strives to develop a transdisciplinary socio-economic-environmental understanding of Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) management in the MENA region. It aims to explore a collective approach, bringing together different perspectives merging into an integrated Solid Waste Management (ISWM) strategy.
Waste and its management are often perceived mainly through a technical lens rather than from an interdisciplinary perspective. Thus, with its Regional Summer School the Heinrich Böll Foundation seeks to address the question of “How to develop an integrated and sustainable waste management approach in a transdisciplinary way in order to build an alternative model that is socially inclusive and equitable, environmentally friendly and economically viable?”
Moreover, the Summer School intends to address the MSW management topic using a governance lens that is based on the principles of democratic participation, accountability, transparency, responsiveness, equity and inclusiveness. By doing so, hbs aims to address broader social, political, cultural and economic issues related to waste management that affect different social groups. One key dimension to understanding the complexity of waste management is gender. The Summer School will raise the question of gender concerns regarding waste in general, and discuss gender-sensitive approaches to waste management that render existing concepts and processes more inclusive.
The Regional Summer School will bring together 23 young professionals from civil society, academia and private sector from different countries of the MENA region in order to a) strengthen their capacities to engage in sustainable approaches and solutions for MSW management, b) promote regional networking and allow for an exchange of experiences on waste issues, and c) facilitate interdisciplinary learning experiences between stakeholders from different sectors and countries.
The idea is to create and offer an inclusive space where young professionals from different backgrounds can exchange and debate about waste and its implications on humans and society. Waste will be the lens through which social and political patterns and dynamics in the MENA region will be analyzed.
Believing that citizens are important drivers for change and the promotion of alternative models, a special focus will be given to innovative solutions and initiatives undertaken by civil society actors, cooperatives, green entrepreneurs or activist groups in order to lead and facilitate socio-economic and ecological transformations.
The proposed sub-topics this year will be as follows:
1- International conventions and MSW management in the MENA region
This session will give a snapshot of international frameworks that address waste management and elaborate on current MSW trends in the MENA region and their social and environmental impacts. It will refer to challenges and opportunities regarding waste management in MENA countries.
2- Waste generation: Production and consumption patterns
This session will analyze our current production and the evolution of consumption patterns, look into the impacts of products design on waste issues, explore relations between consumers’ habits and waste generation and link those to the functioning of our economic model.
3- Waste processing: From the collection to the disposal
This session will go over the different stages of MSW management, from waste collection to waste recovery and disposal and will tackle important waste management aspects such as policies and strategies, realities of recycling in MENA region and the existing co-existence of formal and informal sectors.
4- Moving beyond waste management towards a green circular economy
This session will approach waste as a consequence of the domination of the linear economy and will discuss to which extent a green circular economy and other alternative economic models could be considered for source reduction with an aspirational goal of zero waste.
5- Waste governance: Towards a participatory integrated waste management system
This last session will approach MSW management in MENA region from a governance perspective. It will discuss dominant waste governance models and explore more participatory and inclusive forms of governance towards an integrated solid waste management (ISWM) as well as the potential of community-based initiatives.
The program of the Summer School will be practice-oriented to enhance the capabilities of participants in working with local communities as well as with their counterparts in local governance. Beside thematic inputs from experts, the Regional Summer School will try to engage different stakeholders (decision-makers, civil society initiatives, entrepreneurs, etc.) and provide a space for co-creation of ideas. The aim is to enhance the skills of the participants on how to adopt interdisciplinary and inclusive approaches that could emerge from a multi-stakeholder dialogue and lead to a socio-environmental change regarding municipal solid waste management in the MENA region.
Through group work sessions and lectures, the participants will learn problem solving by design thinking and sharing experiences with other participants and experts. At the same time, the Summer School will be a unique opportunity to exchange and learn about the challenges and achievements regarding waste management in the different countries of the region, to network with like-minded change makers from other MENA countries and to create relationships that ultimately serve shared values and goals for the future of the MENA region.
Participants will be selected based on their expertise in related fields, their specific motivation to participate as well as according to a proportional representation of different countries and sectors. We are looking for engaged and motivated candidates from civil society, the private sector (especially start-ups) and academia working on different kinds of actions as well as businesses or initiatives related to MSW management aiming for behavioral, social or political change toward sensitization, prevention, reduction, reuse and recycling of waste. Eligible candidates should be between the ages of 23-38 and reside in one of the following MENA countries: Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Jordan, Palestine, Egypt, Tunisia, and Morocco.
To be considered, an application should include the filled application form (available at www.ma.boell.org, www.lb.boell.org, www.tn.boell.org, and ps.boell.org), a Curriculum Vita, motivation letter as well as a short paper (3 pages maximum). The paper should focus on a topic related to the overall theme of the Summer School and show the applicant’s knowledge/expertise in this field as well as his/her ability to work independently and creatively. To this end, the applicant should choose a topic from within the subject area and point out its relevance to his/her respective local or national context, e.g. by introducing an exemplary project, a current debate, etc. The paper can be written in the form of an essay or a short academic paper. Accepted languages are English and Arabic.
The Summer School will be conducted in Arabic and English with simultaneous translation. Good command of the English language is important since preparation materials will be circulated beforehand, a large part of which will consist of English literature. The participants are therefore asked to indicate their English level in the application form. Selected participants may be asked to prepare a short presentation on issues related to MSW in their country or community and on how their projects and/or research addresses these issues and challenges.
Travel, accommodation and board costs of the participants will be covered by the Heinrich Böll Foundation.
Please submit your application documents via email.
Applicants from Morocco are asked to submit their application documents in English, Arabic, or French to:
Heinrich Böll Foundation Rabat, Mr. Soufyane Fares
Applicants from Tunisia and Egypt are asked to submit their application documents in English, Arabic, or French to:
Heinrich Böll Foundation Tunis, Mrs. Olfa Chebaane
Applicants from Lebanon, Syria and Iraq are asked to submit their application documents in English or Arabic to:
Heinrich Böll Foundation Beirut, Mr. Christophe Maroun
Applicants from Palestine and Jordan are asked to submit their application documents in English or Arabic to:
Heinrich Böll Foundation - Palestine and Jordan, Mr. Nidal Atallah
Deadline for application is 27th March 2022.
Download the application form here