Training at World Urban Forum

How Zero Waste is Your City? Leveraging Data to Guide Urban Action towards Agenda 2030 and a Circular Economy

On the 30th of June, an essential training session titled “How Zero Waste is Your City? Leveraging Data to Guide Urban Action towards Agenda 2030 and a Circular Economy” was held, marking a significant collaboration between GIZ, UN-Habitat, Wasteware, and the German Aerospace Centre. This event, part of the offerings at the World Urban Forum 11 (WUF 11), aimed at harnessing data-driven approaches to promote sustainable urban development and a circular economy.

The training engaged approximately 20 participants in a comprehensive exploration of how cities can utilize data and earth observation technologies to transition towards circularity. By blending practical experiences with the forefront of research in urbanization and circular economy, the session aimed to address the challenges of data limitations and explore digitization as a catalyst for improved urban management.

Participants delved into the utilization of data for measuring critical aspects of the circular economy within urban contexts. Through a combination of presentations, interactive exercises, and discussions, the attendees were equipped with knowledge on leveraging data to outline actionable steps for enhancing urban waste management and promoting circularity.

Core Methodologies Explored:

  1. UN-Habitat – Waste Wise Cities Tool (WaCT): A cornerstone for cities aiming to refine their municipal solid waste management strategies, the WaCT supports the assessment and enhancement of city performance. Grounded in the Sustainable Development Goals, particularly indicator 11.6.1, it facilitates the collection of primary data crucial for developing effective management and engagement strategies.
  2. GIZ – The Waste Flow Diagram (WFD): This methodology, an extension of WaCT, offers a rapid assessment tool used in approximately 100 cities. It focuses on understanding the flow of plastic waste, thereby aiding in crafting targeted solutions to mitigate plastic pollution.
  3. GIZ – Positive Deviance Approach: Highlighting the notion that solutions can come from within any community, this approach looks at outliers who, despite similar adversities, have outperformed their peers. It’s a method that uncovers unconventional yet successful strategies to address complex urban challenges.
  4. DLR – Earth Observation for Urban Analysis: Focusing on the use of Earth Observation data, this technique emphasizes the significance of visual image interpretation, along with in-situ and Google Street View imagery, for creating 3D city models. This aids in the temporal analysis of urban transformations, offering a unique perspective on morphological changes across global cities.


The training session concluded with an engaging “card game,” designed to reinforce the key learnings and facilitate practical application of the discussed methodologies.

This comprehensive training session not only provided participants with a deeper understanding of data-driven approaches to waste management and circular economy but also equipped them with actionable strategies to implement within their respective urban environments. As cities worldwide strive towards achieving Agenda 2030 and embracing circular economy principles, initiatives like these play a pivotal role in guiding urban action through informed, data-backed decisions.

Waste Flow Diagram