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Remarks by Angela Cropper UNEP Deputy Executive Director to the National Stakeholders Workshop on E-Waste and Electronic Equipment

Nairobi, 7 September 2010 - Welcome to UNEP/UNON Headquarters; Honourable Minister John Michuki - Kenya's Minister for Environment and Mineral Resources and distinguished other guests. A warm welcome also to industry representatives from Microsoft, HP and Nokia.

I am delighted to welcome this expert gathering and distinguished group including decision makers, e-waste experts and manufacturers to this national stakeholders' workshop. E-waste is an emergent issue and one that resonates with much of society in that many people already own, or aspire to own phones, fridges, computers, their accessories and mobile appliances. Essentially, e-waste includes almost any household or business item with electronic circuitry or electrical components, with power or battery supply.

We know that the ICT and electronic industry is rapidly growing and we should welcome developments and encourage their uptake across the world, as they have the potential to play an important role in complementing infrastructure and knowledge and learning barriers, also in assisting achievement of the Millennium Development Goals.

Emergent Issue

As the way we conduct communications and business changes, so must our global response to both these opportunities and challenges. As much of the planet's e-waste is unaccounted for, it is difficult to know exactly how much e-waste there is. Moreover, the number and type of e-waste included in government-initiated analyses and collection programmes differs across the world. According to the European Environmental Agency, e-waste is growing faster than any other type of waste, with an annual volume close to 40 million metric tons globally.

Given the increased pace of technological development and obsolescence, a lot of these appliances have a short life-expectancy and will, sooner rather than later, require sound re-use, recycle and disposal solutions. Dumping or improper recycling of electronic waste causes serious environmental contamination, and while electronic goods are mostly used in the developed world, many end up in developing countries.

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