GAIA in the Asia-Pacific Region
Even before GAIA was formally established, citizens' groups in the
Asia-Pacific region were actively addressing the mounting environmental problems related to the region's economic and industrial development. First held in July 2000, the Waste Not Asia (WNA) meetings have aided in this work by nurturing regional networking and campaigning on waste and incineration issues. Now the regional platform for GAIA's 200 Asia-Pacific members from 20 countries, the WNA meetings bring together GAIA members who are working in a variety of ways on issues related to municipal solid waste, healthcare waste and toxic and hazardous waste, including electronic waste.
Groups championing zero waste solutions, for instance, are working to beat proposals to bury discards in landfills or burn them in incinerators by undertaking community-oriented reuse, recycling and composting programs. Many of these groups advocate for the reinvestment of public funds in solutions that will reduce waste at its source, promote materials recovery over destruction, avoid disposal costs and prevent the creation and release of pollutants that are driving global climate change.
A particular concern for GAIA members in South and Southeast Asia is the recognition of the invaluable role of the informal recyclers, including rag or waste pickers, and the promotion of their fundamental human right to safe and humane employment and protection from occupational and chemical hazards.
With the spread of globalization, some GAIA members in the region have also raised concerns about the proliferation of trade in hazardous wastes. These members oppose the Japanese bilateral free trade agreements (FTAs) that ensure zero tariffs on a host of globally controlled or banned substances, including incinerator ash.
Throughout their myriad campaigns, GAIA members in the Asia-Pacific region have achieved much success in fighting for progressive waste policies, winning a number of incinerator battles and instigating relevant demonstration projects. Among the many accomplishments and victories of GAIA members in the region are the award-winning "Zero Waste Kovalam" project by Thanal in Kerala, India, the cancellation of the Broga mega-incinerator
project in Selangor, Malaysia, and the successful waste reduction projects at the 2002 World Cup in South Korea and the 2005 Southeast Asian Games in the Philippines.