World Habitat Day sheds light on cutting-edge innovation and technology to clean up cities

The United Nations agency for human settlements (UN-Habitat) kicked off its ‘Waste Wise Cities’ campaign during the World Habitat Day on 7 October 2019 aiming at addressing the challenges of managing solid waste. The campaign called upon cities to confirm their commitments to several principles including assessing the quantity and type of waste, improving waste collection, ensuring cities are environmentally safe, and implementing waste-to-energy schemes. It accentuated the role of ‘frontier technologies’ in providing cost-effective measures to finance waste management and hence avoid the high cost the cities have to incur to clean up. This includes automation and artificial intelligence solutions to manage recyclables more efficiently as well as innovative new technologies to transfer organic waste into renewable energy and compost. Such technologies can also help rapidly-growing cities in developing countries to “leapfrog” older cities through capitalizing on the latest solutions and sidestepping less efficient approaches.