Waste reduction and management for sustainable urban development

SDG 11.6 aims to reduce waste and air pollution in urban areas in order to improve the immediate living environment of city dwellers. Currently, most Indian cities are affected by the problems of waste generation and air pollution. The environmental and health impacts of air pollution and solid waste management present several challenges hampering sustainable development. Growing volumes of unmanaged waste and pollution levels lead to land degradation, loss of biodiversity, exposure to harmful chemicals and gases, reduced access to green and open spaces, and disruption of biogeochemical cycles, and therefore a serious threat to the health of city dwellers.

SDG 11.6 is strongly associated with the other Sustainable Development Goals. For example, with SDG
9.1 on improving drainage and flood protection combined with technological upgrading; with SDG 3.9 on the positive impact of a clean environment on health; with SDG 6.5 on integrated water resources management coupled with solid waste management; with SDG 12.4 on prevention of contamination of water bodies by hazardous chemicals; with SDGs 14.3 and 15.3 on preventing pollution of marine and terrestrial ecosystems; with SDGs 6.1 and 6.2 on ensuring the collection, disposal and treatment of waste, and access to safe sanitation and safe drinking water.

Also read: Disaster resilience for sustainable urban development

The Indian government has taken several initiatives— Mission Swachh Bharat 1.0 & 2.0, Municipal Solid Waste Management Manual (2016), Smart Cities Mission, AMRUT, National Clean Air Program — to control waste and air pollution issues. These initiatives have strengthened the management of liquid and solid waste and reduced the negative environmental impact per capita on cities as well as the active participation of the population. Local level efforts of state and city governments have also led to enabling processes, innovative and collaborative solutions.

There are several projects at NIUA that contribute to SDG 11.6. The main ones are: low-carbon and resilient cities, climate-smart cities, the sanitation capacity building platform, the pilot project for an integrated approach to sustainable cities, the fight against urban factors of river health in the Ganges basin, the development of a diagnostic tool for urban water bodies, sustainable, healthy and learning cities and neighborhoods, and BBSR. NIUA supports approximately 3,221 urban local organizations through training and capacity building, exhibition workshops, technical support, policy and advocacy in the areas of solid waste, construction and demolition waste. , air pollution, management of faecal sludge and sewage sludge, sewage-free sanitation, and river management. There are 5 articles that highlight NIUA’s ongoing initiatives to help Indian cities perform better in the areas of waste management. Overall, this issue is a compilation of eight articles and an interview related to waste and sludge management, air pollution and waste management policy initiatives in India.

Also read: Need to prepare urban India for disasters

NIUA is committed to helping improve the performance of Indian cities. To achieve this goal, as well as our own resources, we work in partnership with the media, industry, academia and other governmental and non-governmental organizations for effective research, capacity building and advocacy results. The collaboration of the National Institute of Urban Affairs and the eGov magazine is a demonstration of this. The NIUA and eGov magazine teams have worked enthusiastically to bring together a diverse knowledge base on cross-cutting issues relating to waste reduction and management in India for this special issue. My sincere thanks to all the authors who contributed to this special issue and shared their knowledge to make this issue possible.

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