India's Rally for Garbage Free Cities on International Zero Waste Day
31 March 2023
Over 2,000 cities across India rally for ‘Garbage Free Cities’ as part of a women-led endeavour to promote sustainable consumption and production
The three-week long campaign culminated on 29th March 2023 with Swachhotsav - International Day of Zero Waste: Rally for Garbage Free Cities, organized by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA), Government of India, in New Delhi. The event witnessed the participation of hundreds of delegates including city leaders, grassroots organizations, expert institutions, businesses, development partners, and over 300 women from various Self-Help Groups that have pioneered waste management models across the country, who graced the occasion as “Swacchta Doots”.
Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi launched the Swachh Bharat Mission—Urban (SBM-U) in 2014 as the world’s largest behavioural change programme in sanitation, guided by the principle of Jan Bhagidari (people’s participation). With the vision of ‘Garbage Free Cities’ that aims to harness scientific management of solid waste, the Prime Minister launched SBM-U 2.0 in 2021, ushering in an era of Jan Andolan (people’s movement) in sanitation. Swachhata has become a foundational tenet in not just every government scheme but also in the way of life of citizens, said the Union Minister for Housing and Urban Affairs Shri Hardeep Singh Puri.
Organized by the MoHUA in collaboration with UN-Habitat, UNEP, GIZ, Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Nuclear Safety and Consumer Protection, the event served as a platform to discuss and showcase best practices in the areas of Circularity in Garbage Free Cities (GFC), Women and Youth for GFC, and Business and Tech for GFC. It was held in the presence of the Union Minister Shri Hardeep Singh Puri and the UN Resident Co-ordinator in India Mr Shombi Sharp.
The hon’ble minister, who had earlier launched the three-week campaign led by women from across the country, highlighted the importance of ‘Garbage Free Cities’ rally in raising awareness about waste management in the country, as changes in consumption patterns and rapid urbanisation drive up waste generation. Shri Puri lauded the ‘Rally for Garbage Free Cities’ as a women-led movement wherein lakhs of citizens have taken on the responsibility of cleaning their streets, neighbourhoods, and parks.
“This first annual International Day of Zero Waste is a call for a whole-of-society transformation in seeing and treating waste as the valuable resource it is through reducing, recycling, and reusing. India is making rapid gains in waste management with Missions like Swachh Bharat and Smart Cities, and now the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs’ Swachhotsav campaign highlights the importance of women’s leadership in achieving clean cities. We in the UN are privileged to work with the Government of India and partners to tackle the Triple Planetary Crisis through gender equality in waste management, sustainable urbanization and the circular economy,” said Mr Sharp.