Rising mountains of waste have become a major issue of our time.

From dumped chemicals and pesticides in Africa to the electronic or ewastes piling up in Asia, waste and the shipment of hazardous materials require urgent action on both environmental and health grounds.

At the heart of the issue are the production and consumption patterns operating on the globe. If we are to deliver a healthy and more prosperous planet, if we are to realize the Millennium Development Goals and if we are to meet the targets and time tables enshrined in the World Summit on Sustainable Development’s Plan of Implementation, we need a new vision and political will to produce and consume the goods and services of the 21st century in more efficient and less polluting ways.

Vital Waste Graphics aims to give policymakers, experts, media professionals, teachers and students a comprehensive overview of relevant waste-related issues, causes, effects, as well as possible solutions. Vital Waste Graphics is based on the most recent data received by the Basel Convention Secretariat and by research undertaken especially for the production of the publication.

I hope the publication will encourage all stakeholders to think about what they can do to tackle the rising generation and inappropriate management of waste. Both producers and consumers of goods must work on the betterment of waste management. Industry has the tools, technologies and financial resources to adopt cleaner production methods. All sectors of society need to engage into an integrated life-cycle management of goods. The more efficient and the less wasteful manufacturing and consumption processes will be, the less pressure there will also be on essential resources and the better human health and the environment will be protected.

I hope that your personal copy of Vital Waste Graphics will encourage you to be part of a global network for improving the quality and quantity of information on how to address the global waste challenge.

I wish to thank all the experts involved in this project for their valuable contributions to the publication.

Klaus Toepfer
Executive Director
United Nations Environment Programme
Nairobi, 12 October 2004

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