As 2020 draws to a close, many will be glad to see the back of this year!  It has indeed been tough for WasteAid, our funders, our partners and our beneficiaries and we look forward to 2021 with a renewed optimism. We certainly look forward to a time when our final two suspended projects will have re-started after this year’s COVID-enforced hiatus. We look forward to a time when our team can once again travel to support our partners, identify waste management needs and make all too crucial connections with those who can work with WasteAid to achieve its mission.

Ceris Turner-Bailes, CEO WasteAid

There are still challenges to overcome. We are as yet uncertain how the reduction of the 0.7% of GNI to international aid will affect WasteAid, and the looming withdrawal from the EU throws up ever more obstacles as our eligibility for funding may be affected. We await to see what impact of the merger between FCO and DfID will have on our mission – UKAID has been a valued partner for a number of years.

However, even with these challenges, I do feel that we are ending 2020 on a high thanks to our funders, supporters, partners and the committed WasteAid staff. We may not have all the answers to every challenge yet, but our dedicated team is working through them to ensure that WasteAid continues to make a difference to those most affected by the global waste crisis.

As I write, we have received hugely positive news that funding has been confirmed for three new projects in 2021 in Cameroon and The Gambia. These projects will widen WasteAid’s scope and reach ever more communities, reducing waste pollution and helping to alleviate poverty amongst the most vulnerable. We will be publishing more details about these new initiatives in the new year and are waiting to hear on a number of other exciting opportunities. 2020 has been a busy year for Team WasteAid, not least preparing to scale our impact in 2021.

WasteAid team in the Gambia

It seems to me too that the world is becoming more and more aware of the connection between climate change, environmental degradation and international development. Not too long ago, environmental and development approaches seemed to be quite siloed, but it is so positive to see growing cooperation between the sectors and a real understanding of how one impacts on the other.

At WasteAid, we are witnessing this through a growing network of strategic development partners who recognise the value and the impact effective waste management systems can have on development. Through these partnerships we are able to broaden our reach and deepen our impact. We can concentrate on what we do best – waste management and waste to wealth initiatives – whilst our partners can tackle head-on the wider effects of poor waste management on health and wellbeing.

Speaking of partnerships, I hope that you all caught our Circular Economy Network’s launch webinar in Johannesburg last week. If not, please do check out a recording of the event. Led by Michelle Wilson and Irene Inan of WasteAid, we had some fantastic speakers and some thought-provoking presentations. The Circular Economy Network will launch in India and Vietnam in the new year and dates will be announced on WasteAid’s media.

We know that there are fantastic initiatives happening around the world and that the circular economy concept is gaining momentum. The Circular Economy Network’s role is to support this work in each of the hubs, as well as to identify challenges and opportunities in moving towards a circular economy. The network will provide a platform for all stakeholders in each hub to connect, share knowledge and identify mutually beneficial opportunities, we will identify gaps and obstacles to a circular economy approach and work with stakeholders to develop solutions. Finally, in 2021 we will provide business incubation and seed funding to selected enterprises in each of the three hubs. This is an innovative and exciting project which will be launching its own social media streams in the coming weeks.

Finally, it remains for me to once again thank all of you for your support and engagement with WasteAid and our work. Whether you are a corporate funder, an individual donor or have just purchased WasteAid’s 2021 calendar, thank you (if you have not, please do!!).  As a team, we are delighted that our vision for a waste free world is gaining traction and whilst we are celebrating our successes, these are small in the face of the global waste crisis. We have the ambition and the commitment to do much more. Your support means we can expand our programmes and protect people and planet.

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