We had the pleasure of interviewing this week Dr. Roger Achkar, the Director General of the Global Waste Cleaning Network – GWCN, the world’s largest and most widespread environmental network, headquartered in the United Kingdom, with many member organisations from the African continent, including African Report Files.
What does your organisation do?
GWCN is a network spread across 178 countries, and comprised of NGOs, educational institutions, and private and public sector companies, which are active and interested in environmental issues related to the management and reduction of waste, whether solid, liquid or gaseous.
We help our member organisations identify sustainable ways to manage and eliminate waste, support their environmental activities, and connect our network members together through organized conferences and webinars and via our mobile social app.
GWCN also incorporates a research center served by PhDs and researchers from around the world writing policy and scientific articles on about twenty environmental and energy areas of specialization, global and/or with focus on specific geographical regions and countries. The research center runs an environmental and energy research journal which is a multi-disciplinary, peer-reviewed, and open-access bulletin.
What is your role within GWCN?
In my current role as Director General of GWCN, I guide the strategy of the organisation, and operate as a positive role model for its culture. I am responsible for managing GWCN’s overall operations and building partnerships with international NGOs and Companies.
On a daily basis, I supervise the secretariat work and the research programs. I also regularly represent GWCN as keynote speaker at major forums and conferences where I keep addressing best practices for achieving the UN’s sustainable development goals.
How are sustainability concepts applied at GWCN?
Sustainability occupies a central role at GWCN, namely in subjects relating to waste-to-energy, renewable energy and climate change.
We aim for programs that support social, environmental, and economic sustainability objectives. We also try to incorporate AI and data analytics in our research offerings because we believe that Artificial Intelligence can enable a sustainable future.
Serving world communities through objective, scientific and policy-oriented research is a main priority for us, as much as educating and engaging our team and members on sustainability models and practices.
Do you engage your member organisations in your research programs?
Our research philosophy calls for the participation of the member organisations in the research we undertake. In many cases, the projects can be their own. The members normally secure the numerical and qualitative data and information within their countries and regions while we make available the researchers and produce and publish the related articles.
The conclusion drawn by the research papers help our member organisations create efficient action plans and solid environmental campaigns.
Do you have an active community in Africa?
We have a good number of African member organisations which are very active within our network. Alas, Africa is facing some major and serious environmental challenges, such as the rising threat of e-waste pollution in the air, soil and water, and the constant decrease in forest areas. The continent’s fauna, flora and aquatic systems deserve utmost attention, and GWCN is leading research in these areas in various places of Africa with the help of local researchers and communities.