Main menu


Can culture bring new meanings in vain?

featured image

As the urgency of addressing global climate goals increases, we need an approach that goes beyond technological innovation and better integrates a wide range of factors, including cultural contexts. A report released today by WHO/Europe attempts to systematically engage with the role of behavior and cultural context in waste management practices and how these affect health and well-being.

This report examines the role of culture in the generation and management of municipal solid waste (as opposed to industrial waste and sewage) and how this affects health and well-being conditions.

With the rise of consumerism, waste has come to symbolize a lack of meaning.This report draws on insights from the health humanities and social sciences to make waste management relevant to individuals, communities, and nations. Emphasizes the importance of restructuring as meaningful practice at the level. This report uses case stories and good practices from WHO Member States to demonstrate that reduction, reuse and recycling strategies are often deeply ingrained cultural practices and the conditions that governments create for them. If so, we show how these can be mobilized using grassroots action.

This report is based on a scoping review of 193 articles and is published as part of the Health Evidence Network Integrated Report Series.

What is Cultural Lens?

Cultural approaches are premised on understanding that different groups operate using a wide range of categories, assumptions, and morals. Culture is a complex landscape of intersections of political, economic, ecological, legal, ethical and moral practices and values ​​that influence waste and health-related behaviors and experiences. Cultural factors also come into play on different scales, from local customs to national norms.

A cultural lens helps policymakers understand the different ways of knowing, being and acting across and within regions and demographics. And given the uneven distribution of the negative impacts of waste production, treatment and disposal, acknowledging seemingly shared cultural diversity is particularly important. A cultural lens can be used to understand perceptions and experiences of these inequalities and tailor interventions to the context that are likely to succeed in reducing harm and promoting health and well-being. I can do it.

The vital role of community and participation

Paying attention to inter- and intra-cultural differences reveals multiple points of meaningful intervention. Regulations, laws and incentives influence the cultural context that influences the upstream generation of waste (mass culture of consumption and disposal) and the downstream management of waste (disposal, recycling, recycling, etc.). important to consider. This report emphasizes the importance of involving people and communities in waste policy-making to promote health and well-being.

This involves creating a common understanding among the various actors involved in and affected by waste management practices, and involving local stakeholders to better understand their local concerns and perceptions of harm. , prioritizing and addressing relies on fostering a participatory decision-making process on waste management. Grassroots initiatives such as community-led cleanups, art projects, and citizen science initiatives are also supported to help drive change at scale and ensure sustainability.