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The UNIDO-Samsung Partnership: Transforming E-waste into Job Creation and Business Opportunities

Summary

By: Gloria M. Adapon, UNIDO Regional Field Office, Thailand. _

The United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and Samsung Electronics entered into a partnership in August 2012 which aims at creating jobs, business opportunities and ensuring effective management of electrical and electronic waste (e-waste) in Cambodia.

Driven by the increasing demand for electronic goods and their rising obsolescence rate, e-waste has become the fastest growing waste stream in Cambodia. Currently, the repair and disposal of electronic equipment is conducted at inappropriate facilities resulting not only in lower recovery rates, but also in dangerous exposure to environmental and health risks. Since the country has limited technological capacities and industry experience in environmentally sound e-waste management and repair services to significantly reduce the quantity of obsolete electronics products, UNIDO and Samsung Electronics – supported through additional funding from the Republic of Korea through the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) – jointly design and implement this project. It focuses on two inter-related components.

First, it provides capacity building measures and improves the skills of youth in handling electronic products and upgrading repair services and e-waste management. Second, the project supports the local economy and reduces its environmental impact by promoting e-waste management practices and providing relevant market information on e-products repair services and e-waste management businesses to MSMEs. This initiative further assists the Cambodian government in advocating and formulating relevant e-waste policies that ensure the mainstreaming of effective environmental management in the local economy. Hence, the project leverages the partner’s complementary resources to tackle the central barriers to a flourishing and sustainable electronics industry in Cambodia, i.e. the lack in adequate training, technology, and regulatory frameworks.

As a leader in consumer electronics and ICT products in Cambodia, the partnership with UNIDO not only aligns with Samsung’s CSR plan and commitment to invest in the communities where it operates, but also fosters the development of strong local supply chains. Hence, Samsung Electronics contributes financial resources as well as technical know-how and equipment which are essential inputs for the hands-on training offered to allow the transfer of skills to youth – the main target beneficiaries. In order to build the required institutional capacity, local trainers and experts from the private and public sector are also participating.

For UNIDO, promoting employment creation and business opportunities in the electronics industry as well as improving e-waste management practices and policies is part of its mandate to advance inclusive and sustainable industrial development. Bringing its expertise on the responsible reduction, reuse, and recycling of electronic hardware and specific industry experience to the fore, UNIDO supports the Government of Cambodia in achieving the National Strategy and National Green Growth Roadmap of the country. Together with its public and private partners, it also raises attention to the issues of environmental sustainability in the context of job creation and economic growth.

For information about the project, please contact: Ms. Gloria Adapon, UNIDO Regional Field Office, Thailand.