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Abstract

Municipal solid waste management (MSWM) has become one of the most pressing environmental issues in South Asian cities, the more so as it is closely linked to drinking water quality, sanitation and human health affecting mostly the urban poor, as well as to global climate change. Looking at recent governance initiatives in three South Asian cities developed in the wake of natural or human-induced crises, the project will focus on how to render MSWM improvements politically feasible and socially acceptable, which is a prerequisites for functioning SWM systems, and thus for (environmental and social) sustainability more generally. The goal of this project, therefore, is to identify, analyze and promote the political and sociocultural processes that are necessary to enable the functioning of MSWM systems. In particular, alternative practices and systems are promoted, whereby institutional hierarchies are decentralized, favoring horizontal accountabilities and whereby waste chains are shortened and transformed into closed loops implying a more circular waste economy in which both environmental and local livelihood benefits would accrue. The project puts emphasis on mutual learning through horizontal South-South partnerships between local authorities, civil society actors and researchers across South Asia.

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