• Overview
  • Documents
  • Outputs and Outcomes


The transition towards a more digital world and a growing information society and economy offer unprecedented opportunities for sustainable development. At the same time, they contribute to the growth of the global consumption of electrical and electronic equipment, and – consequently – to growing amounts of electronic waste.

Used, broken, or obsolete equipment, such as phones, laptops, sensors, TVs, and fridges contain substances that pose considerable human health and environmental risks, especially if treated inadequately. Today, most e-waste is not properly documented and not treated through appropriate recycling chains and methods, whilst circular economy thinking has not been fully adopted. As a result, the amount of electronic waste, or e-waste, is growing rapidly and large dump sites exist throughout the world.

Taking into consideration the many existing initiatives and active stakeholders in the UN system in the area of e-waste, and following a proposal put forward by ITU, the UN Environment Management Group (EMG) established an inter-agency Issue Management Group on tackling e-waste.

This high-level dialogue organized during the World Summit on the Information Society, provides a step towards strengthened commitment and greater collaboration amongst the UN entities. It is a platform for the signing of a Letter of Intent by the Heads of participating UN entities, for the exchange of views on the current e-waste management challenge and on considering concrete actions for UN system-wide coordination and collaboration on tackling e-waste. The event provides an opportunity for the participants to express their organisations’ commitment to the e-waste challenge and a possible future E-waste Coalition, taking into account the work of the Issue Management Group, and its recommendations.

The high-level dialogue will involve the signing of a Letter of Intent by the participating Heads of UN entities. It will be followed by a panel discussion among these Heads and representatives from the private sector, including ICT manufacturers and the recycling industry. The signing ceremony and panel discussion will be facilitated and moderated by a representative from outside the United Nations system.

Desired outputs of the high-level dialogue:

  • Exposure of the work of the participating UN entities and ongoing work by the Issue Management Group on Tackling E-waste, to the participants at the WSIS and the public at large, including plans for an E-waste Coalition.
  • A greater understanding and recognition of the work and objectives of the Issue Management Group on Tackling E-waste.
  • Further discourse between the private sector and UN entities, and the role and opportunities of the private sector in addressing the e-waste challenge
  • Discussion around several questions relating to both the global challenge of e-waste, and the opportunities and challenges for UN entities and other stakeholders, in tackling e-waste.

Expected outcomes of the high-level dialogue:

  • Through an E-waste Coalition, long-term discussions among UN entities on the possibilities for increased programmatic collaboration and grand partnerships in their efforts to tackle e-waste.
  • A possible follow-up meeting of signatories to the Letter of Intent at a later date, potentially bringing more participants into an E-waste Coalition.
  • Possible support from partnering and interested private sector organisations for initiatives such as a UN system-wide Knowledge Sharing Platform on e-waste for which plans are currently being drafted.

Further information:

More about the WSIS Forum 2018 and to access the agenda