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Under-Secretary General of UN Discusses Zero Waste Programme of UN with Professor Yunus in Nairobi

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The Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of UN Habitat, Ms Maimunah Mohd. Sharif discussed Zero Waste Campaign with Nobel Laureate Professor Muhammad Yunus on May 10, 2023 in Nairobi, Kenya.

The Under-Secretary General expressed the full commitment of the UN in achieving zero waste in the fastest possible timeframe. She welcomed Professor Yunus into the Advisory Board of Zero Waste Campaign. Professor Yunus has been recently appointed by UN Secretary General António Guterres as member of the advisory board of Eminent Persons on Zero Waste to provide leadership in the Zero Waste campaign. In his response the Nobel Laureate proposed setting up a “Social Business Zero Waste Fund” to finance initiatives to create self-sustaining local, rural, urban, regional and national businesses focused on zero waste. It will particularly aim at encouraging young people, both men and women, to turn into entrepreneurs to establish local and international zero waste companies and collaborate with each other. He mentioned about his initiative of encouraging young people to create 3Zero Clubs to turn themselves into 3 Zero Persons. These club members may turn themselves into 3Zero entrepreneurs if the finance is available. If the Kenyan “Social Business Zero Waste Fund” becomes successful such funds can be created as social business in other countries. There may be multiple such Funds in a country to compete with each other. The Fund will have consultancy and training services to prepare young people to succeed in their enterprises.

Director General assured all support to the members of the Advisory Board individually and collectively. She explained the Habitat’s programme on building smart cities and implementation of SDG (Sustainable Development Goals) programme of Habitat many of which are designed with inspiration from Prof Yunus’s concept of social business and microcredit. Smart cities should not be driven by technology alone but driven by people first.”, she said. SDG cities focuses on local funding and aim at solving local problems.

Professor Yunus was invited to a series of UN events ranging from the SDG Summit, World Habitat Day, UN Summit of Future which are starting from July to September next year. The Under-Secretary General expressed her interest in participating in the Social Business Day 2023 in Langawi, Malaysia in July, where global stakeholders meet to discuss and celebrate the social business movement.

Both the Under Secretary General and Nobel Laureate agreed on taking three focus countries in three continents, such as, Brazil, Kenya and Malaysia and work on them intensively as case studies to highlight the environmental issues and solutions towards them. Professor Yunus suggested to highlight the examples from corporate world such as, Patagonia, a company which has been converted into a social business after working as a personal profit maximising company over many years. It transferred its ownership to a nonprofit dedicated to fighting climate change.

Professor Yunus briefed the Under Secretary General on a social business company called Yunus Environment Hub, dedicated towards finding solutions towards the environment. It will work in tandem with UN Habitat, UNEP and other major stakeholders in this field.

Yunus expressed his dismay over the deteriorating condition of Virunga National Park of the Democratic Republic of Congo which holds the second largest rainforest of the world after the Amazon. Deforestation is proceeding in the park in an ever increasing speed. Charcoal lords are getting stronger, like drug lords in other countries. Now top oil companies are getting ready to laying pipelines to exploit fossil fuel. Yunus sought guidance from UN Habitat chief on how to preserve the Virunga as lung of the planet.

Both agreed to have more meetings to achieve Zero Waste goal in a sustainable way.


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