Bogota’s Zero Waste Programme Mayoral Controversy


On March 2, 2014, Bogota will be holding a referendum on whether to reinstate its Mayor, Gustavo Petro, after he was removed from office by a ruling of Colombia’s Inspector-General Alejandro Ordóñez.

The Inspector-General of Colombia has ruled that Petro, who was democratically-elected, Gustavo Petro, should be removed from his position based on actions taken during the implementation of Bogota’s Zero Waste programme, a programme that includes thousands of waste pickers. Ordóñez made the ruling on December 9, 2013.

The Zero Waste programme was implemented by the Petro administration in response to a 2011 Constitutional Court ruling, which said waste pickers must be included in the city’s solid waste management system. Waste picker representatives have stated that while the current system does require adjustments, it has been a significant advance as it officially includes waste pickers and compensates them for their work.

With the ruling by Inspector-General Ordóñez to remove Petro, Bogota’s current Zero Waste programme and the livelihoods of thousands of waste pickers are at risk. In response, the Bogota Association of Recyclers (ARB), along with the Colombia Association of Recyclers, has produced a petition in support of Mayor Petro. ARB, with technical and research support from Inclusive Cities partner WIEGO, has struggled for the inclusion of waste pickers into Bogota’s solid waste management program. Both organizations have recently participated in the Inclusive Cities Informal Economy Monitoring Study, from which the Bogota city report will soon be released. Find out more about WIEGO’s work with ARB.

The waste pickers have also actively supported Mayor Petro in pro-Petro rallies in Bogota’s Plaza de Bolívar.


More Resources

Watch the Chronicle of a Fight for Inclusion videos for more information about the process of including waste pickers into the waste management system in Bogota at the local level, and in Colombia at the national level.

Watch ARB’s Nohra Padilla in this video, which outlines why Nohra was selected as one of the 2013 Goldman Environmental Prize Winners.

Read about ARB and other waste picker organizations in Refusing to Be Cast Aside: Waste Pickers Organising Around the World.