Viet Nam's work to address marine plastic pollution
Viet Nam is creating its first zero plastic waste city: Here's how
03 July 2020 - Only 10-15 % of collected waste in Viet Nam is reused or recycled. A new Zero Plastic Waste City project will model local solutions. The project is centred on a social business-driven approach. The chosen pilot city will be announced later in 2020.
03 July 2020 - Five South-East Asian countries are responsible for more marine plastic waste leakage than the rest of the world combined - and Viet Nam is one of them. While the Mekong River plays a crucial role in the socio-economic development of the region, it also ranks among the 10-most impactful sources of global marine litter.

The main causes behind Vietnamese land-based marine litter can be attributed to a combination of rising consumption and poor national waste management. Alongside Viet Nam's rapid economic development over the past decades, the country's solid waste generation has also increased consistently at annual rates of around 10%. Only about 10-15% of collected waste in Viet Nam is reused or recycled; much of the remainder is sent to dump sites and incineration facilities, underlining the necessity of more sustainable approaches to solid waste management in the country.

With currently more than 2,000 small-scale enterprises and high industrial growth rates, plastic recycling constitutes a very promising industry in Viet Nam. However, until recently, most of the plastic material recycled in Viet Nam was imported from other countries such as China. In an effort to avoid a dramatic increase of global waste streams to the country, the Vietnamese government banned the import of material for recycling in 2018, an act that has boosted demand for recyclable domestic plastic waste. Accordingly, the most severe barriers that hinder an improvement in Vietnamese plastic waste management are found in the inadequate or non-existent disposal, collection and segregation of waste at household and provincial level. Due to insufficient investments in waste recycling technologies and resources, most Vietnamese provinces are not adequately equipped for the separated collection of waste at source.

On-the-ground studies show that neighbourhoods that enjoy regular waste collection benefit from an effective and cost-efficient service. However, many communities remain unreached by regular collection services. In response, local households dispose of their municipal waste independently via measures such as incineration or dumping. While these informal and uncoordinated activities not only cause harmful direct effects such as air pollution and the spread of mosquitoes, they also indirectly foster marine litter along the entire Mekong Delta.

It is precisely against this backdrop of much-needed capacity building in strategic municipal waste segregation, collection and recycling that the Zero Plastic Waste City project was initiated as a collaboration between The Grameen Creative Lab and The Alliance to End Plastic Waste. Consisting of a modular social business approach, the programme aims to increase the waste collection rates of currently unconsidered waste types and increase the amount of waste being reused for new purposes, while simultaneously empowering local waste pickers. The modular approach allows for the development of a social business based on the needs of local communities as well as the gaps in the waste value chain, and which is integrated into the existing ecosystem of local waste management stakeholders. Social businesses - a concept developed by Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and co-founder of The Grameen Creative Lab, Muhammad Yunus - base their business activities not on the maximization of profits but on solving their customers' specific social or environmental problems. They combine the best of two worlds: the social mission of a charitable organization with the business acumen of traditional for-profit businesses, ensuring long-term financial self-sustainability.

To ensure the successful implementation of the Zero Plastic Waste City approach in terms of both a long-lasting socio-environmental impact within the project region as well as a contribution to the global effort to reduce marine plastic litter, the project’s specific locations will be identified according to a variety of factors such as their proximity to rivers or the sea, and a current high volume of solid waste leakage. Furthermore, in order to specifically target municipal waste collection schemes, the project will be primarily implemented in small and medium-sized urban areas. In Viet Nam, these criteria should ensure a high probability of success for the Zero Plastic Waste City programme. Furthermore, the project is potentially scalable along the entire Mekong Delta as well as through an extensive local network of partner organizations.

In the Mekong Delta particularly, the price sensitivity of existing informal schemes of waste collection and recycling constitutes a remarkable finding by our on-site investigations and a particular challenge of local waste management schemes. In many municipalities, informal waste pickers collect and recycle household waste in addition to governmental waste management services or as full substitution of them. However, interviews with local waste pickers indicate that their informal collection and recycling services highly depend on local market prices for recyclable materials. If revenues on secondary materials are low, informal collection and recycling rates drop. These findings not only stress the importance of market mechanisms in understanding informal sector value creation; more importantly, they underline the need for formal employment opportunities and stable wages for waste collectors from the informal sector – one of the major contributions of the Zero Plastic Waste City project.

Grameen Creative Lab is currently identifying local partners for implementation, aligning other stakeholders in the areas and initiating pilot assessments. The city will be announced in early 2020 and Grameen Creative Lab will also explore approaches to scale these social businesses to additional cities in 2021. We look forward to working with platforms like the Global Plastic Action Partnership, which launched its first pilot in Indonesia and will soon partner with the Government of Viet Nam, to drive effective action against plastic pollution in Viet Nam and its neighbouring countries, paving the way towards a more sustainable and pollution-free ASEAN region.


Image: Grameen Creative Lab

Chairman of Indonesia's Waste Pickers Union (IPI) on COVID-19
03 July 2020 - This video message was created by IPI and shared during the NPAP Indonesia Digital Conference on 22 April 2020.
Hamamatsu Voluntary Local Review Report 2019
01 July 2020 - 

Hamamatsu City is a government ordinance designated city, located between Tokyo and Osaka along the Pacific coast, with an area of 1,558km2 and a population of about 800,000. The population of the city is on a downward trend from its peak in 2008. It is projected that the population trend will continue and the aging ratio (27% as of 2018) will increase. One of the features with regard to the population in Hamamatsu is the number of foreign nationals, which accounts for 3% of the total population, 1% higher than the national average.

As a result of the merger of 12 local municipalities in July 2005, Hamamatsu became the second largest municipal area nationwide with diverse natural and social environment that includes urban, rural, mountainous and hilly areas. For this reason, it is referred to as a government ordinance-designated city that is a model of Japan in miniature. With rich forest and fishery resources, the primary industry is thriving in Hamamatsu. In addition, the city is famous for manufacturing and is the location of large corporations that are active on the global stage, such as Suzuki, Yamaha, Kawai, Hamamatsu Photonics, Roland, and FCC. Not only large companies but also small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and venture companies are also active. The higher ratio of primary and secondary industries compared to other government-ordinance designated cities in Japan is one of the characteristics of Hamamatsu.


Hamamatsu City faces various challenges including the administrative costs to maintain and upgrade municipal services covering large administrative area, independence of underpopulated areas, administrative services that can meet to socio-economic environment and social needs that changes according to the population decline, low birthrate and progressive aging society, and co-existence with foreign residents. Against the background of the nuclear disaster as a result of the Great East Japan Earthquake and the subsequent deregulation of the electric power industry, Hamamatsu is also facing the need to put measures in place to continue to secure a stable supply of energy and to protect people’s lives and livelihoods against natural disasters (disaster prevention and mitigation).

Localisation and mainstreaming of the SDGs in Hamamatsu City

To tackle with a lot of local challenges, Hamamatsu City is managing city administration in partnership with various local stakeholders and by leveraging municipal budgets and local resources effectively. The Hamamatsu City Comprehensive Plan, the 30-year plan from 2015 is integrated with the principles of the SDGs, and therefore the city is promoting the SDGs implementation through the implementation of the comprehensive plan. The comprehensive plan of the city was drawn up using backcasting techniques. The comprehensive plan includes 12 vision-points for the desirable future of city called the “One Dozen Futures” and sets out comprehensive policies to achieve the vision. In the process of making the comprehensive plan, "the Hamamatsu Future Design Council" composed of experts and citizens having different backgrounds was established to review and discuss the plan. In addition to the discussion at the Council, the city interviewed citizens to hear and reflect more voices from citizens.

Read the full report here or download the attached PDF of the report.

Singapore’s food delivery surge during lockdown highlights plastic waste problems
01 July 2020 - In Singapore, daily waste collected domestic and trade premises like apartments and shophouses was 3% higher over the eight-week circuit breaker period compared with March.
01 July 2020 - Singaporeans’ appetite for meals delivered to their doors appears to have been turbo-charged by being stuck indoors during the coronavirus outbreak. This has cast a light on the country’s struggles to regulate the plastic these meals are carried in.

As people stayed home during the April 7 to June 1 so-called circuit breaker period, indications are that the consumption of meals packaged with plastic jumped. The volume of overall rubbish produced also increased.

Takeaway food rose by almost a fifth per week when lockdown measures were in place and there was a 73% surge in delivered meals, according to estimates from an online survey conducted by the National University of Singapore alumni on 1,110 respondents. This resulted in an additional 1,334 tons of disposable forks, spoons, and containers, equivalent to the weight of 92 double-decker buses, according to the survey.

Meanwhile, daily waste collected from domestic and trade premises like apartments and shophouses was 3% higher over the eight-week circuit breaker period compared with March, the National Environment Agency said in response to emailed queries.

“There is a need to do more to reduce the excessive consumption of disposables,” the agency said. Last year, about 200,000 tons of domestic waste thrown away were disposables, comprising items like carrier bags and takeaway containers, enough to fill up about 400 Olympic-size swimming pools, it said.

Plastics Ban

Some 83 countries had banned retailers from providing free plastic bags to customers as of mid-2018, according to a United Nations Development Programme report, while around two-thirds of the 192 nations surveyed had adopted some form of legislation to regulate them.

While Singapore has yet to regulate plastic bag use, it is taking steps in that direction. It also works with residents, schools and businesses to encourage and support practices like bringing one’s own food containers, recycling and not providing disposable cutlery by default.

Among other plans, the government will require businesses and retailers such as supermarkets with an annual turnover of more than S$10 million ($7.2 million) to report what types of packaging they are using and submit plans to reduce volumes or recycle them by March 2022. The deadline was pushed back from an earlier timeline of 2021 due to the Covid-19 disruptions.

In the meantime, the government will bring together citizens from September through March 2021 to look at more ways to cut the excessive use of disposable waste.


Image: People waiting to enter a supermarket have their identity documents checked by staff in Singapore (Representational image) | Photo: Roslan Rahman | Getty Images/AFP via Bloomberg

Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) launches rapid action plan to contain surging coronavirus cases in North Mumbai
27 June 2020 - Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) on Monday launched a rapid action plan to control the sudden rise of coronavirus cases in northern suburbs of Mumbai which consists of areas like Borivali and Dahisar.

27 June 2020 - Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) on Monday launched a rapid action plan to control the sudden rise of coronavirus cases in northern suburbs of Mumbai which consists of areas like Borivali and Dahisar.

These areas have lately witnessed a surge in the number of coronavirus cases after phase-wise unlocking of the lockdown. Under the new action plan, rules in the containment zones have been made more stringent and door-to-door survey has been ordered.

To make the fight against the novel coronavirus in these areas more effective, BMC Commissioner IS Chahal will deploy 50 ambulances, donated by an NGO, that will visit these high-risk localities to collect swab samples for coronavirus testing.

Cases in these areas of Mumbai are doubling at a fast pace.

In R-Central (Borivali), the doubling rate is 18 days whereas Mumbai's average doubling rate is 34 days. In Dahisar, the doubling rate is 16 days.

According to the municipal corporation, this rapid action plan is being launched in zone 7 which consists of three administrative wards in Borivali and Dahisar. Though there is no plan yet for a complete lockdown in these areas, a partial lockdown plan has been prepared.

Unlike the rest of Mumbai, entire buildings will be sealed if coronavirus positive cases are found. Also if there are four access roads to the building, three will be shut and one will be left open for essential services.

In Santosh Nagar area or Dindoshi, the BMC has approved a plan for a lockdown given the high number of cases there. Additional Commissioner of Police Dilip Sawant confirmed the development.

In zone 7, 939 buildings have been sealed and 113 slum areas have been declared containment zones. If we look at the data of all three wards in zone 7, R south has reported 1,965 cases while 730 patients have recovered. Of the total, 1,120 are from slums and 845 from buildings.


Image: The rapid action plan is being launched in zone 7 which consists of three administrative wards in the areas of Borivali and Dahisar (Press Trust of India).

India's Kerala State Is Combating COVID-19 Through Participatory Governance
26 June 2020 - The left-ruled Indian State of Kerala remains in the global spot for its effective and efficient measures in tackling the COVID-19 pandemic. 
26 June 2020 - The left-ruled Indian State of Kerala remains in the global spot for its effective and efficient measures in tackling the COVID-19 pandemic. The state captured the Indian news headlines, projecting its potential, strength, and humane approach to the outer world, leaving an operative model that other states can follow.

The government’s apt and adaptive state-interventionist strategy even garnered widespread attention across the world, with international media and academic journals, including that of MIT and Oxford, praising the robustness of the ‘Kerala Model’ of development.

In Kerala, over its formative years, the state government along with its collective organisations and trade unions played an instrumental role in building up a robust public sector, which has given the state the leverage to control pandemics and natural disasters. With its almost 100 per cent literacy rate and its top slot in HDI ranking, the state was always receptive and reactive to progressive change.

But this is one (rather important) part of the larger story. Kerala not only has an efficient government but also has at its disposal a conscious and responsive society of people who are well aware that their role in this deathly fight is as important as that of the government. It is with this collective strength that the southern state of India survived the Nipah Virus and two great floods over the past two years.

In sharp contrast to the state of affairs in the rest of India, Kerala’s lead in the COVID fight has to do with its unique participatory governance, where people worked for the government, complementing the efforts of each other. From providing food items to having media briefs every day, the government made sure that the people were out of starvation and were well informed about the situation. On the other hand, various groups of people came forward to volunteer and made sure that the government policies are implemented on time with effect to ‘break the chain’.

Formation of the Sannadha Sena

The Chief Minister of Kerala, Pinarayi Vijayan, called out the youth in the state to join the Sannadha Sena, a community volunteer force formed by the government, comprehending that the government schemes for controlling the crisis needed workforce, other than the state machinery, to be implemented. The online registrations started in March with numerous registrations pouring in to aid the needy.

Though the initial plan was to mobilise around 2.3 lakh able-bodied youth in the age group of 22 to 40, the registrations received a massive response in a month: more than 3 lakh volunteers comprising men, women and transgender people, from different sectors ranging from IT and medical to skilled labourers.

Various organisations, including NGOs, NSS, NCC and Youth Commission called out their volunteers to get involved in the force. Both Kerala’s ruling, as well as opposition parties, also came forward in solidarity to the Sannadha Sena, imploring its members to register themselves with force.

The purpose of the Sannadha Sena was to use its volunteers to provide food, other essentials and physical assistance to those who were under lockdown. After registration, the health authorities examined them and trained them or helping the affected during an outbreak, without compromising their health. The state also gave them the necessary protective equipment and paid for their food and travel expenses.

The Sena comprised of 200 volunteers of each Panchayat, 500 of each municipality and 700 of each corporation. These volunteers enquired in their neighbourhoods whether some residents needed help. They were also vigilant enough to look out for the aged, persons with disabilities, and those who didn't have a home to stay in. The force made sure that these people were taken care of and not ignored. It was through the Sannadha Sena that the government was also effectively able to create a helpline service for assisting the people.

Community Kitchen volunteers

Understanding that the lockdown will adversely impact the abilities of people to earn income, the government made a clarion call to establish community kitchens across the state to provide food at a low and affordable cost. Thus, at the decree of Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, hundreds of such kitchens mushroomed across 941 Panchayats in the state on March 25.

This led to the formation of an ‘Arogya Sena’, where people volunteered to cook meals in large numbers in community kitchens to make sure that nobody went hungry without getting food. By effectively making use of the ground level resources of the local self-governments and community groups, arrangements were also made to distribute food at free of cost to those who were not able to afford them. In an extraordinary move, measures were also taken to directly deliver these free meals at the footsteps of people who couldn't afford it, thus protecting and valuing their dignity in front of others.

The operations of the community kitchens were conducted in such a manner that two batches of people, one for cooking and the other for distributing cooked meals, were given passes to work in the community kitchens in two timelines, one in the morning to cook the food and other at noon to distribute them, preserving the protocols of social distancing. Food packets amounting to 2.8 lakhs are being distributed a day in Kerala by these volunteers.

Other than the government, several organisations, local clubs and private individuals also sponsored funds to help in running these community kitchens.

Reaching out to families with Kudumbasree

The role of Kudumbasree, a three-tier community network project of women self-help groups, was put to use at multiple levels. Not only were they involved in the setting up of numerous community kitchens in the nooks and corners of the state, but the government was also able to call upon them for various other purposes as well, to reach out to families.

Kudumbashree formed 1.9 lakh WhatsApp groups with 22 lakh neighbourhood group members to educate them about Government instructions regarding COVID-19. They gave a note to all the 43 lakh neighbourhood group members which they discussed at their meetings. The note was regarding details of ‘Break the Chain’ campaign and the need for special care for those above 60 years of age.

Kudumbashree was also involved in preparing and selling lakhs of cotton masks through their 306 tailoring units. Numerous microenterprise units had prepared sanitisers when there was a shortage for it. Also, their tailoring units have prepared cloth bags for supplying it to the Kerala State Civil Supplies Corporation.

Since the continuous lockdown periods forced people to not go to work, it was hard for families, especially those who were working in the informal sector, to sustain themselves without any source of income. Thus, the government needed to infuse people with the necessary money during the pandemic period. It was through Kudumbasree that the government was able to give away interest-free loans worth ₹2000 crore to the families who needed them.

In places that were noted as ‘red spots’ in Kerala, strict directions were given to the people to abstain themselves from getting out of their houses, except for medical and other emergencies. To enable people to get groceries and other essentials without having them to go out, the local self-governments contacted the local Kudumbasree members and granted them the permission to collect and deliver those essential purchases directly to individual homes, limiting further contamination in those spots.

Active Political and Cultural Organisations

The various political and cultural organisations in Kerala played a crucial role in reaching out to the ordinary people, taking care of each of their struggling families and distributing them with kits of vegetables and essential dry food grains.

Members of both the ruling CPI(M) and the opposition INC decentralised efforts locally and took care of people by regularly ensuring that they were comfortable during the lockdown. 

Over the years, consecutive Kerala governments have adopted unique and joint governance models that combine the efforts of both the government and communities in a people-centric development approach. The state has invested heavily in the public sector, thus decreasing the class disparities in accessing health, as well as other services. An atmosphere of policies guided by the theory of the welfare state and participatory management systems made Kerala’s development indices stand out from the rest of the country.


Image by Nicolas DEBRAY from Pixabay 

Suwon Implementation Report on Goal 11
25 June 2020 - Recognizing the importance of the environment, Suwon City has put its priority on people-centered policy for sustainable urban development since 2010 and has been dedicated to establishing urban infrastructure for the safety of citizens.

25 June 2020 - With rapid industrialization and urbanization, the concern over the sustainability of the global environment sparked the international debate on environment and development, and the results of the debate were epitomized by 'Agenda 21' at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) held in Rio de Janeiro in 1992. Since then, the UN-led efforts to create a sustainable global environment had resulted in the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in 2001 and led to the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in 2015. As part of the global efforts to achieve SDGs, the United Nations High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) is annually held to check the implementation status of SDGs with a sense of responsibility. The focus of the HLPF 2018, which will be held in July 2018, will be checking the implementation status of “SDG 11.”

SDG 11, which aims to “make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient,” has 7 Targets covering areas of residence, public transportation, urban planning, cultural heritage, resilience, environment and waste management and public space and three Sub-targets working as the fundamental tools for the implementation: linking urban, peri-urban and rural areas; integrated policy; and government capacity. The tasks of SDG 11 are in line with the tasks that the Network of Local Governments (NLG) have pursued the recognition that the success of sustainable development is up to cities and their local governments.

SDG 11, as a key agenda for the world's sustainable development, has been discussed at various conferences like the United Nations Conference on Human Settlements (HABITAT) and by many organizations including ICLEI-Local Government for Sustainability. Especially, the "New Urban Agenda (NUA)", which was adopted at HABITAT III held in Quito in 2016, well epitomizes the essence of the agenda. The close partnership between diverse stakeholders and their participation would be the key to achieving SDGs. Especially, the cooperation between the United Nations, member states, local governments and other stakeholders would be of the utmost importance.

Recognizing the importance of the environment, Suwon City has put its priority on people-centered policy for sustainable urban development since 2010 and has been dedicated to establishing urban infrastructure for the safety of citizens. The city enacted the Ordinance for Sustainable Development and launched the Suwon Council for Sustainable Development, an organization with a private-public governance structure, and adopted its own 10 Sustainable Development Goals through a privatepublic partnership, which is localized and optimized version of UN SDGs. In addition, the Suwon Research Institute (SRI) was established as a think-tank to study the specific tasks and strategies of Suwon for the implementation of Sustainable Development Goals while the newly established Suwon Sustainable City Foundation is mandated with implementing the tasks and projects related to urban sustainability. With the hosing of ICLEI Korea Office in Suwon in 2012, Suwon is also taking the leadership on urban sustainability in South Korea by making efforts to spread the international community’s efforts and experiences on achieving sustainable development.

Suwon City and the Suwon Research Institute, in cooperation with various entities and organizations, examined the tasks and implementation status of the 7 targets of SDG 11, in line with the HLPF to be held in July 2018. This paper is Suwon Implementation Report on Goal 11 and has been prepared after through the participation of various entities and organization in Suwon making it more special and differentiated from those reported solely developed by the single institute or local government.


Future-Fit Cities Forum: M4EG network gathers to discuss future of cities

The M4EG Urban Forum: Future-Fit Cities aims to take account of the current development situation and chart the way forward on how to build resilience and grow green from crises, including throu

gh tackling challenges of leadership and finance.

The two-day event happening in Batumi, Georgia on October 4-5, 2023, will bring together representatives from local governments, the EU, UNDP, civil society, and the private sector.

Forum's agendad is packed with diverse panels, covering topics like green urban development models, ​innovation ecosystems at the local level, systemic approaches towards green cities​​, collaboration and decentralized decision-making, use of technology in reimagining cities, resilient urban systems creative industries and culture.

To make sure everyone can participate,  workshops and panels will offer simultaneous translation in English, Armenian, Azerbaijani, Georgian, Russian, Romanian, and Ukrainian.

Explore the full conference schedule and learn more about our featured speakers at

The M4EG Facility draws on the Mayors for Economic Growth Initiative, launched and funded by the European Union (EU) in 2017. Since 2021, the EU-funded M4EG Facility has been managed by UNDP in close cooperation with the EU, local authorities and a range of partners.

Sustainable Reconstruction: A Framework for Inclusive Planning and Financing to Support Green Transition in the Arab States Region

This framework represents a comprehensive guide for Arab countries emerging from conflict and crisis situations to design and implement sustainable reconstruction activities that accelerate efforts towards building forward better. Drawing on analyses of over 100 reports and consultations with multiple stakeholders across relevant sectors, including government officials, planners, investors, and others, in Iraq, Libya, the State of Palestine, Sudan, and elsewhere, the framework serves as an operational tool laying out valuable insights and practical recommendations for action by governments and partners across the region.

Sustainable Reconstruction: A Framework for Inclusive Planning and Financing to Support Green Transition in the Arab States Region

Originally published by UNDP, UN-Habitat, and Oliver Wyman on 15 September 2023

The Arab States region is subject to ongoing challenges from political upheavals, socio-economic disparities, conflicts and terrorism to natural disasters, desertification, periodic dust and sandstorms, and water scarcity. The cumulative impacts lead to significant pressures on and, at times, an outright destruction of infrastructure, displacement of populations, and environmental degradation. Sustainable reconstruction is an important component for any post-conflict and post-crisis strategy that can contribute to sustainable and lasting peace, stability, and prosperity.

Access the full publication here or download the attached PDF of the publication