“The earth, the air, the land and the water are not am inheritance from our fore fathers but on loan from our children. So we have to handover to them at least as it been handed over to us.”
– Mahatma Gandhi
Like most of the developing world, India is being transformed by both globalization and urbanization. Many urban Indians, especially those from the middle and affluent classes, have become fervent consumers in the last two decades, leading to a quantum leap in the demand for resources and intense pressure on the environment.
Most Indian cities are run on the work of the informal sector, which includes the 1% of an average city’s population who recycle waste and reduce pressure on the environment. Their work helps clean up our cities by recycling approximately 20% of the waste generated. And yet, recyclers lack formal recognition, equal rights, secure and safe livelihoods and dignity. And as consumption patterns change with a growing economy, their work exposes them to ever higher levels of pollution and dangerous toxins.
India produces 42 million tonnes of waste annually. With rapid urbanization, this will only multiply – as will the number of people handling it at considerable risk to their health. Managing waste, ensuring sustainable consumption and a healthy environment for every citizen, and ensuring just and safe working conditions for waste handlers are, therefore, urgent challenges.
We believe that programmes designed to improve environmental quality in the context of waste can only be green and sustainable if they include the group of people.