UNEP’s BRS and Climate-KIC launch first-ever Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) on e-waste

GENEVA, 9 MARCH 2016 – The Secretariat of the Basel, Rotterdam, and Stockholm Conventions (BRS), together with its partner the European Institute for Innovation and Technology’s Climate Knowledge and Innovation Community (Climate-KIC), is proud to launch the first-ever Massive Open Online Course, or MOOC, on the electronic and electrical waste, e-waste challenge.

It is estimated that, by 2018, there will be 50 million metric tonnes of e-waste produced per year, far-outstripping current capacities to properly manage it in an environmentally and socially appropriate manner.  

According to Achim Steiner, Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme, in his introductory video address to the MOOC, “In many countries women and children form up to 30% of the workforce in crude, e-waste processing and are therefore particularly vulnerable. When women and girls are affected in this way as the mothers of today and tomorrow, our common future is affected too. This MOOC will introduce you to the challenge of e-waste and especially to its environmentally sound recycling. The course will take you from the problem, to opportunities, and to possible actions at local, regional and national levels, and will guide you through policy tools and best practices for the collection, recycling, and final disposal of e-waste.”

Ebrahim Mohamed, Climate-KIC’s education director, added: “Our MOOC highlights that e-waste is a societal challenge that also is part of larger opportunity to create a prosperous zero carbon future, driven by innovation, jobs, and investment. Climate-KIC is seizing that opportunity by connecting both public and private sectors with climate change-focused education, research and innovation. Ideas are the oxygen of growth in the zero carbon economy, and I am convinced that this collaboration with UNEP will spark many new ones.”

Fast-growing waste stream

E-waste is a fast-growing waste stream in the world and poses a number of serious threats to human health and the environment. Conversely, if undertaken in an environmentally sound manner, e-waste recycling can offer sustainable livelihoods, green and decent work, and contribute to the development of a circular economy.

The course opens on Monday 4th April, and is aimed at students and researchers, policy makers, practitioners, entrepreneurs, e-waste recyclers and government officials and invites participants to become part of the solution to this growing problem. Relevant for developed and developing countries alike, the 8-week programme covers all aspects of e-waste with a view to turn the threat of this global tsunami of e-waste into an opportunity.

The MOOC explores and explains the Basel Convention technical guidelines on transboundary movements of e-waste which were adopted on an interim basis at the last Conference of the Parties (COP) in May 2015, and which provide much-needed guidance on how to identify e-waste and used equipment moving between countries, with the aim of controlling illegal traffic.

E-waste is categorized as hazardous waste due to the presence of toxic materials such as mercury, lead and brominated flame retardants which include some polybrominated diphenyl ethers listed in the annexes to the Stockholm Convention, considered as hazardous waste according to the Basel Convention.

E-waste may also contain precious metals such as gold, copper and nickel and rare materials of strategic value such as indium and palladium. These precious and heavy metals could be recovered, recycled and used as valuable source of secondary raw materials. It has been documented that e-wastes are shipped to developing countries where it is often not managed in an environmentally sound manner, thus posing a serious threat to both human health and the environment.

All interested participants are invited to pre-register at the website www.learning.climate-kic.org/courses/e-waste-mooc

Notes for Editors

  • The Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal is the most comprehensive international environmental agreement on hazardous and other wastes and has 183 parties. See basel.int
  • The Secretariat of the Basel, Rotterdam, and Stockholm Conventions, or BRS, supports parties implement the three leading multilateral environment agreements governing chemicals and waste, in order to protect human health and the environment. See brsmeas.org
  • Climate-KIC (Climate Knowledge and Innovation Community) is the EU’s largest public private partnership addressing climate change through innovation to build a zero carbon economy. They run programmes for students, start-ups and innovators across Europe via centres in major cities, convening a community of the best people and organisations. Their approach starts with improving the way people live in cities. Their focus on industry creates the products required for a better living environment, and they look to optimise land use to produce the food people need. Climate-KIC is supported by the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT), a body of the European Union. See climate-kic.org



Angela Howarth, European Head of Communications, Climate-KIC 


+44 (0) 7872 850 084


Website: www.brsmeas.org

BRS Secretariat –                Francesca Cenni, Programme Officer,

francesca.cenni@brsmeas.org tel: +41-22-9178364

BRS Press –                         Charlie Avis, Public Information Officer

Charles.avis@brsmeas.org tel: +41-79-7304495

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