What are MEAs? What are Multilateral Environmental Agreements (MEAs)?

MEAs are legally binding agreements between countries that have responsibilities for managing elements of the natural environment.

For example, waste focused MEAs address procedures and actions related to the transboundary movements of materials such as hazardous waste, radioactive waste, and persistent organic pollutants (to name a few).

There are six MEA "clusters" that address a broad range of environmental issues:

- Biological diversity
- Climate and atmosphere
- Environmental governance
- Land and agriculture
- Marine and freshwater
- Chemicals and waste

Waste Management and
Multilateral Environmental Agreements (MEAs)

Hari Srinivas
Policy Analysis Series E-039. June 2015

Waste is an underlying theme in many multilateral environmental agreements, seeking justification for concerted local action, or broad global consensus. As in the 'mother-of-all-MEAs' - Agenda 21 - MEAs seek to tackle the issue of waste either directly, through the Basel, Rotterdam or Stockholm conventions, or by integrating into larger environmental issues such as Local Agenda 21 or decision-making processes.

In practice however waste is truly a local issue that has to be dealt with on a daily basis. And this is where many of the local environmental agreements that are functioning at the local level are also relevant to waste management. Of particular relevance are three such tools: Local Agenda 21, Environmental Management Systems (EMS) and Life Cycle Assessment (LCA). However none of these agreements actually deal with waste directly - indeed these agreements will have to be adopted to deal with issues related to Waste Management.

This GDRC output is a part of its research programmes on urban environmental management, and seeks to contenxtualize and target waste action.

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Urban Waste

Contact: Hari Srinivas - hsrinivas@gdrc.org