Happy World Environment Day! We're sharing the latest news on the day's celebrations across the globe. Do you have something that you would like us to feature? Please do get in touch.
Namibia joins the global movement to #BeatPlasticPollution
Meanwhile, in Southern Africa...
In Namibia, the Ministry of Environment Tourism partnered with the UN and the Environmental Investment Fund of Namibia to host a World Environment Day celebration. The event featured students from Hochland High School (pictured above), who did a dramatic performance highlighting the dangers of plastic pollution.
Elsewhere, the country's Minister of Environment and Tourism called for new measures to reduce the use of plastic bags.
Pan African Visions has the story:
Minister Shifeta said Namibia seeks to emulate over 15 African countries that have already introduced measures to “either ban or tax the use of plastic carrier bags and we have followed with close interest the experiences and impacts these measures have had in the different countries... It is our intention to learn from these lessons and introduce a number of measures to reduce the use of plastic bags that will work in the Namibian context.”
The Minister concluded that: “Our efforts to beat plastic pollution will require the engagement and commitment of each and every Namibian and I particularly call on private sector companies and consumers to join us to spearhead this drive.”
Volunteers clean up Peru's dirtiest beach
More than 1,000 volunteers from local civil society groups, supermarkets and the National Navy cleaned up Peru's Carpayo Beach, one of the country's most polluted spots, to mark World Environment Day.
They got some cool drone footage of the action:
Meanwhile, a commission of the Peruvian Congress approved a project that aims to reduce Peruvians' use of plastic bags and styrofoam. The approval follows months of debate among national authorities, businesses, universities and local organizations. The proposed initiative will now start working its way through the parliament.
Video wrap-up: India hosts landmark World Environment Day celebrations
World Environment Day 2018 came to a close with historic announcements from India, this year's host, to #BeatPlasticPollution.
Check out these highlights from the day:
Tanzania protects itself from rising seas
To mark World Environment Day, the Vice President of Tanzania gave a speech to mark the completion of a large-scale sea defense project along the country’s coastline.
Here are some details from the press release:
Climate change has already led to increased temperatures and rising sea levels in this East African nation. Without major investments in adaptation, an annual average of 800,000 Tanzanians stand to be impacted by flooding caused by rising sea levels between 2070 and 2100. Around five million people currently live in Dar- es-Salaam, a coastal metropolis at risk of flooding.
Vice President Suluhu remarked: “The effects of climate change pose huge challenges to the people of Tanzania…through the construction of these walls in the various parts of the country, we see the importance of the project. Kisiwa Panza (northern Tanzania) was sinking but now the residents are living well and in peace. We've also prevented Pangani from effects of erosion...We thank the United Nations for their support.”
There's a great photo essay that gives more details on the project's human impact. Check it out here.
Honduras and Guyana pledge to fight marine litter
So World Environment Day is technically over everywhere in the world except Hawaii, but the updates keep rolling in - and you guys still seem to be reading! - so we'll keep sharing the latest.
Here's a great piece of news from Latin America: Honduras and Guyana have joined the Clean Seas campaign. Now 14 countries in the region have joined the UN's global movement to rid the world of marine letter.
From all of us at UN Environment, bievenidos!
India sets the pace in the global race to beat plastic pollution
In case you missed it, India made a massive announcement yesterday: that the country will ban all single-use plastics by 2022.
Here are some details:
Prime Minister Narendra Modi hailed World Environment Day as the start of a global movement to defeat single-use plastics, highlighting India’s rapid economic development can be done in a way that is sustainable and green.
“It is the duty of each one of us, to ensure that the quest for material prosperity does not compromise our environment,” Modi said. “The choices that we make today, will define our collective future. The choices may not be easy. But through awareness, technology, and a genuine global partnership, I am sure we can make the right choices. Let us all join together to beat plastic pollution and make this planet a better place to live.”
Read the press release for more.
A huge congratulations to India for this ground-breaking commitment, and for all the country has done to make World Environment 2018 such a success.
It's not me, it's you
Anyone else feeling nostalgic as World Environment Day draws to a close?
Let's take a minute to look back at the video that got all of this started, way back in February. Remember this one?
Tackling plastic pollution in the Galapagos
Latin American countries have been going all out this World Environment Day. We've read about everything from widespread plastic bans, to backpacks made of recycled bottles, to the small lakeside village that's leading the fight to #BeatPlasticPollution.
Now check out this video that shows how one of the region's most iconic sites - the Galapagos Islands - is working to protect its people and wildlife from the threat of plastic waste.
A plastic pollution demon on the streets of Bali
A plastic pollution "demon" in Bali is one of a dozen art installations around the Asia-Pacific region that are calling attention to plastic pollution on World Environment Day.
The sculpture, which is made entirely of recycled materials, depicts Baruna, the Balinese god of the sea, who is furious because of all of the pollution he has found in the oceans.
Elmo wishes you a happy World Environment Day
We certainly see eye to eye with our friends at Sesame Street on one point: to make real progress in protecting our planet, we have to make sure that kids get the message, too.
That's why UN Environment is partnering with Wastebusters, which is working with schools across the United Kingdom and Africa to inspire children to think differently about waste.
Wastebusters has a network of thousands of schools, and they create brilliant films to make people think about where waste comes from and what to do with it. They had some specific ideas to share for World Environment Day.
The European Commission wants to know: Are you #readytochange?
To mark World Environment Day, the European Commission has launched a new campaign to reduce the use of throwaway plastic.
Here are some more details:
The single-use plastic initiative is part of the EU’s broader Circular Economy agenda, including the world's first Plastics Strategy: an EU-wide drive to increase awareness about plastic waste and our transition towards a more sustainable, circular economy.
The awareness-raising campaign has been launched to accompany and promote new measures to tackle the problem at its root cause, including reduction and collection targets, obligations for producers, and awareness-raising measures.
Learn more about the campaign on the #readytochange website.
Erik Solheim: Indian businesses are leading the way
UN Environment Head Erik Solheim is now on a plane back to Kenya after a full week of activities across India. He was impressed by a lot of things he saw there, not least the private sector's commitment to tackling plastic pollution.
Here are some of this thoughts:
We’re asking for three things on World Environment Day: action from citizens, governments and, above all, the private sector. With businesses, the conversations are already overwhelmingly positive, showing innovation is already taking place.
In India, the Taj Group is one such example of a company taking the lead in the vital services sector. The Taj Exotica Resort & Spa is the first luxury resort to open in the Andaman Islands, and is aiming to keep the beach destination and the unique ecosystems unspoilt. It is perhaps the world’s first single-use plastic-free luxury resort, and as such it’s a possible game-changer for the industry. Throughout the rest of its hotel network, the Taj Group is looking towards eliminating the unnecessary but ubiquitous throwaway plastic packaging that permeates the tourism sector.
Read the full story.
Geneva event explores pollution solutions
At an event to mark World Environment Day at the Palais des Nations in Geneva, private sector innovators presented their solutions for reducing society's plastic footprint.
The event was organized by UN Environment, the Solar Impulse Foundation, the Sea Cleaners association and a selection of innovators. It featured special guest Merijn Tinga, also known as the Plastic Soup Surfer, who spurred new legislation against single-use plastics in his home country of the Netherlands.
UN in New York gets in on the action
And now to New York, where the United Nations has hosted a Green Fair to mark World Environment Day.
The event attracted some colourful characters:
A representative of the New York City Department of Sanitation showed off their "Zero Waste Landfill" reusable bags.
Meanwhile, inside, it was a full house at the World Environment Day commemoration with UN Member States. The panel included representatives from India, the president of the UN Economic and Social Council, and the Deputy Chef de Cabinet of the President of the General Assembly.
So how much plastic pollution are we talking about?
Looking to get the facts to back up your #BeatPlasticPollution commitment? We're here to help.
Drawing on the latest science and policy research, we've built a data story that walks you through the history of plastic waste, current rates of plastic pollution, and the latest laws that countries are using to tackle the problem. We've rounded it all off with some suggestions for what you can do to reduce your plastic footprint.
Interested? You can find it all right here.
Asian e-commerce giant encourages shoppers to use plastic alternatives
Lazada, Southeast Asia's e-commerce giant and online shopping mecca, has adopted the #BeatPlasticPollution theme for World Environment Day, offering customers ways to prevent plastic waste.
Shoppers in Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia and Philippines who visited the website or app were greeted on the homepage with lists of suggested alternatives to single-use plastic items, from cloth bags to tumblers to reusable straws and diapers.
Lazada's reach in the six countries makes it the most visited site across Southeast Asia, and it has 27 million fans on Facebook and 1.7 million on Instagram. Its apps are also in the top three downloaded on the App Store and Google Play.
The company announced its commitment on Twitter:
Is your sex life wrecking the environment?
File this one under things that hadn't occurred to us. To mark World Environment Day, the British tabloid Metro UK has published a story about the environmental impacts of, well...
We'll let them explain:
The majority of condoms are made of latex, along with stabilisers, preservatives, and hardening agents – there’s no official ruling on how long these take to biodegrade. Polyurethane condoms, however, definitely won't degrade, and aren’t recyclable either.
So condom waste isn’t great. But condoms themselves are the most effective method to prevent pregnancy and the spread of STDs… so please don’t give ’em up. Justify the environmental benefit in terms of population control, if that makes you feel better.
What you can do, however, is take a look at the brand of condom you’re using and try to avoid any harmful chemicals or excessive packaging.
Intrigued? Keep reading here.
Nepali sherpas plant trees to mark World Environment Day
Of all the jobs one could have, we can't imagine one that lets you have more time outside than being a sherpa.
To mark World Environment Day, the Nepal Mountaineering Association and the High Altitude Mountain Workers Welfare Association organized a tree-planting ceremony at the International Mountaineers’ Memorial Park in Kakani. Nepal's Minister for Water Supply and Sanitation, Bina Magar, was the guest of honour for the day.
Jane Goodall plays tag!
Showing off a pair of sunglasses made from recycled plastic, renowned primatologist and conservationist Jane Goodall has officially joined the global movement to #BeatPlasticPollution.
Welcome, Jane. Thanks for your support!
UN Environment's West Asia Office joins the fun
UN Environment staff in Manama, Bahrain are marking the day with a pop-up at Bahrain City Centre Mall, as well as activities at a local school.
At the pop-up, visitors have the chance to paint or draw their commitment for World Environment Day, learn about the tag game, and explore the issue of plastic pollution. Here, two boys display their commitment:
Earlier in the day, the World Environment Day celebration at the Indian School in Bahrain inspired some enthusiastic responses, as you can see below. The festivities included a tree-planting, interactive talks, a fashion show featuring clothes made of plastic, and an exhibition of children's recycling projects. All the children wore green.
A big day for the world's oceans
In another major announcement from this year's World Environment Day host, the Government of India is joining the UN's Clean Seas campaign, which has already won the support of some four dozen countries.
A big welcome to India!
Volunteers clean up Nairobi's City Park
In Nairobi, today's celebrations saw hundreds of volunteers turn up for a cleanup of Nairobi's City Park. The event was organized by UN Environment, in collaboration with the Friends of City Park as well as the Friends of Karura Forest. More than 100 United Nations staff took part in the cleanup.
Beijing airport promotes UN Environment campaign to #BeatPlasticPollution
Posters promoting World Environment Day can now be found all around Beijing Capital International Airport, which is the busiest in China and handles over 94,000,000 passengers each year.
BBC discusses the plastic waste crisis with UN Environment
World Sailing and International Olympic Committee vow to #BeatPlasticPollution
World Sailing, the sports governing body, made two big steps today in the fight against plastic pollution. First they signed a memorandum of understanding with UN Environment, which ensures they will work to reduce the sports environmental impact. The second action was a joint pledge with the International Olympic Committee to join the UN Environment Clean Seas campaign.
Get the full story here.
Surfing communities working to make their beaches plastic free
Surfers in Karnataka, India are coming together to #BeatPlasticPollution.
Peruvians come together for massive beach cleanup in Lima
More than 1,000 people came together today for a beach cleanup in one of the poorest districts in Lima, Peru.
BREAKING NEWS FROM INDIA
Dr. Harsh Vardhan, India's Environment Minister, has just announced that India will eliminate all single-use plastics by 2022.
A huge congratulations to India on this historic commitment!
UN Environment and UN Environment head Erik Solheim tweeted their support.
Iconic Brussels statue gets a makeover for World Environment Day
To mark World Environment Day, the Manneken Pis, a Brussels landmark, is sporting some floral decoration. The bronze statue, which depicts a boy urinating into a fountain, is one of the city's most-visited spots.
Heads of Ozone Secretariat pledge to ditch plastic
The Executive Secretary of the Ozone Secretariat, Dr. Tina Birmpili (right), and her deputy, Megumi Seki, have just pledged to make all of their meetings plastics free. Nice work, guys!
Sisters of the Sorrowful Mother join the fight to #BeatPlasticPollution
An international religious congregation with Sisters serving in Trinidad and Tobago organized a cleanup and tree-planting on Sunday, and they invited members of the public to join them in their efforts to #BeatPlasticPollution in the Caribbean island nation.
The event, which was spearheaded by Sister Julie Marie Peters of the Sisters of the Sorrowful Mother, was intended to raise awareness of practical ways to reuse or reduce plastic, and to inspire people to become agents of change.
Representing the Congregation of the Sisters of the Sorrowful Mother were Sisters Delia Monrose and Cecile St. Remy. The Congregation is a Third Order, Franciscan Religious Group of Women that can be found in countries in Europe, Africa and North America, as well as in other Caribbean nations.
Here are couple of images from the event:
Peru's solution to plastic pollution
Haiti cleans up its beaches for World Environment Day
More good news, this time from Haiti. Take a look:
Blanca Li leads Paris school kids in "the pollution dance"
The dancer Blanca Li - who has choreographed dances for Beyonce, Daft Punk, and the Metropolitan Opera, among others - has created a unique choreography for World Environment Day and invited children to perform the “Pollution Dance” with her at BiodiversiTerre in Paris this morning.
We don't have a video from this morning, but you can get a sense of how this goes:
UN Environment hosted a tent at the Paris event, where visitors of all ages had the chance to play "pollution tag" and explore a unique photo exhibition by photographers Fabrice Monteiro and Ben Von Wong. They also had a chance to meet with ECO the dolphin made of plastic bottles to raise awareness on plastic pollution.
Here's a shot of ECO himself:
Reuters: Families around the world join the war on plastic
Ahead of World Environment Day, Reuters news agency has published an excellent, in-depth photo story about how families around the world are tackling plastic pollution.
Here's a snippet:
Faced with shops full of food and other goods swathed in plastic, families across the world are trying to reduce its use and recycle wherever possible to cut down its impact on the environment.
Reuters photographers met people from Athens to Singapore trying to play their part as the war on plastics becomes a hot political topic and governments work to outlaw single-use items such as drinking straws and cotton buds.
Find the full story here.
Great coverage from BBC News
Check out this video that aired this morning on BBC News, featuring an interview with UN Environment's Lisa Svensson:
A message from the UN Secretary-General
United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres has issued an official statement: "On World Environment Day, the message is simple: reject single-use plastic."
Check out the video.
Ghana announces new plans to tackle plastic waste
Yesterday morning, the Executive Director of Ghana's Environmental Protection Agency told a morning talk show that the government is about to introduce a new plan to help tackle the country's plastic waste.
Modern Ghana has the story:
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has suggested that implementing a take-back system, where companies that supply their products in plastic containers can retrieve the packaging from the public after use, could ensure a higher percentage of the country's waste is recycled.
Currently, less than two percent of the country’s plastic waste is recycled.
Erik Solheim pays his respects to Mahatma Gandhi
UN Environment Head Erik Solheim is celebrating World Environment Day India, the global host of this year's celebrations. This morning, he paid a visit to the Mahatma Gandhi memorial at Raj Ghat in New Delhi. He was accompanied by India's famed yogi and mystic Sadhguru.
"Great start to my day in Delhi with a visit to Rajghat, the beautiful memorial to Mahatma Gandhi," Erik wrote on Twitter, adding: "'To be the change you want to see in the world' is so relevant to our fight to #BeatPlasticPollution and other environmental challenges."
Check out the video:
Wales introduces free water refills along its famed coastal path
Some good news this morning from the Environment Minister of Wales: no more need for plastic bottles along the country's 1,400-kilometre coastal path. Congrats!
A plastic-free UN Environment Assembly?
Snapchat launches World Environment Day bitmoji
Australian supermarket chains compete to #BeatPlasticPollution
Australia's two biggest supermarket chains - Coles and Woolworths - are both trying to position themselves as frontrunners in the fight against plastic waste.
The Sydney Morning Herald has the story:
Coles pledged to reduce plastic wrapping on fruit and vegies, including bunches of bananas, kale and silver beet, and replace meat and poultry product packaging with recycled and renewable materials.
It set itself a deadline of 2020 to halve food waste from its supermarkets and make all packaging of its branded products recyclable.
Meanwhile, rival Woolworths says plastic straws would be banned by the end of this year, while its program to remove plastic wrap from fruit and vegetables will be expanded to include another 80 products.
It's also looking to expand its food waste reduction programs to all stores.
Senator in the Philippines takes on plastic pollution
Some good news out of the Philippines this morning, via CNN:
BBC World Service covers UN Environment plastics report
Erik Solheim in the Times of India: We're addicted to throwaway plastic
Head of UN Environment Erik Solheim has a joint op-ed with CK Mishra, India's Minister of Environment, Forests, and Climate Change in the Times of India. Here's a snippet:
Looking at these projections, it’s abundantly clear that we need strong intervention at the highest level. Many countries have already taken important steps in this direction. Panama recently banned plastic bags. Kenya did the same last year, while Thailand is doing its best to make sure cigarette butts do not end up on its beaches with smoking bans.
India is taking regional and global leadership too. It is hosting World Environment Day today, with the message being Beat Plastic Pollution. India has gone ahead and notified the Plastic Waste Management Rules 2016, which lays down an excellent framework for responsible plastic use.
Read the full article at the Times of India.
#WorldEnvironmentDay is trending worldwide
#WorldEnvironmentDay is now trending worldwide on Twitter. Thanks to everybody who's using the hashtag, and thanks also to Twitter for our emoji - we ?it!
Times Square lights up with #BeatPlasticPollution
Ok, now it's big.
Every day, more than 300,000 people walk through New York City's Times Square. Today's visitors will be treated to some video highlights from the global game of #BeatPlasticPollution tag.
Check it out:
Erik Solheim in The Guardian: We're on the edge of a global plastic calamity
Writing in The Guardian this morning, UN Environment Head Erik Solheim says we need to urgently cut our consumption of throwaway plastic.
Those who say there are more important environmental crises to tackle are mistaken. In today’s world, protecting our environment is not about choosing one issue above another. The deeply interconnected systems that make up the natural world defy such a narrow-minded approach. Beating plastic pollution will preserve precious ecosystems, mitigate climate change, protect biodiversity, and indeed human health. Confronting this crisis of convenience, is a fundamental battle that must be fought today as part of the broader struggle for a sustainable tomorrow.
Read the full article.
Indian farmers go "back to nature"
In the Indian State of Andhra Pradesh, the government, farmers, UN Environment and big investors like BNP Paribas are coming together to make agriculture more nature-based.
Head of UN Environment, Erik Solheim, paid a visit to the region in the run-up to World Environment Day.
In Geneva, swimmers race against plastic pollution
On 27 May, a group of people swam across Lake Geneva to raise awareness of plastic pollution. But this wasn't just any swimming race.
The press release has some details:
To symbolize this drag on our quality of life, swimmers – including volunteers from UN Environment and the International Olympic Committee – held a race against plastic pollution in one of the largest lakes in Europe, Lake Léman (Lake Geneva). The swimmers dragged balloons symbolizing the weight of plastic waste produced per person in different European countries...
(Spoiler: Bulgaria won, with Ireland finishing second.)
The day also included a major cleanup:
Divers and dozens of volunteers meanwhile recovered and sorted 70 kg of plastic waste from the lake’s bed and shore in Lausanne. The waste included BBQs, mobile phones, a table and a large proportion of plastic. Around 5,500 kg of waste was recovered during a series of clean-ups organized by the Net’Léman initiative. Some 110 tonnes of waste - ranging from fridges and bikes to plastics - have been collected and separated for recycling from Lake Léman since the first such clean-up was held in 2005.
Learn more about what we're up to in Europe.
A song for the oceans
Nigeria pledges to #BeatPlasticPollution
In the run-up to World Environment Day, the Government of Nigeria has announced ambitious new plans to improve how the country manages its waste.
EnviroNews Nigeria covered the story:
The minister said that the Federal Ministry of Environment, in collaboration with critical stakeholders, had developed a national strategy for the phase-out of plastics, which are non-biodegradable.
According to him, the ministry is also developing a national plastic waste recycling programme, as well as establishing plastic waste recycling plants across the country in partnership with state governments.
“At present, a total of eight plants have already been completed and handed over to the states while 18 others are at various stages of completion.
The Minister also announced that the country's vice president will attend the World Environment Day celebrations on 5 June.
India celebrates from the beach to the cricket pitch
As the global host of this year's celebrations, India is going all out for World Environment Day. Here's a quick look at some of the highlights from last week. (Much more to come later today, of course!)
In Shanghai, students make art from plastic
Students at Tongji University in Shanghai have crafted sculptures out of single-use plastic to call attention to plastic pollution.
The installation, which is being supported by the Shanghai Municipal Environmental Protection Agency, is one of 12 exhibitions across the Asia-Pacific region that are calling attention to plastic pollution on World Environment Day.
#BeatPlasticPollution tag goes viral
Have you seen the news?
The UN's global game of #BeatPlasticPollution tag has taken off - inspiring commitments from the likes of actress Kristin Davis, Canada's Environment Minister, the UN Secretary-General, and even the Governator himself.
But this one is still our favourite:
Want to join the fun? Here's how.
A message from the President of the UN Environment Assembly
A major announcement from the International Olympic Committee
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has just announced a major new partnership with UN Environment, with a focus on combatting plastic pollution in the world's oceans.
Seven Olympic sports - triathlon, sailing, ice hockey, surfing, athletics, golf and rugby - have committed to reduce their plastic footprint, as have a number of national-level Olympic committees and corporate partners.
Here's a snippet from their press release:
The IOC has already begun reducing waste at the IOC headquarters, as well as at The Olympic Museum, and is working to increase responsible material use at IOC events in collaboration with its suppliers by 2020.
Moving forward, the IOC will provide educational toolkits and workshops to the sports community, in addition to further driving innovative solutions together with its partners. With assistance from Olympic Solidarity funding, coastal clean-ups, campaigns and education programmes have already begun in Oceania, a region of 17 nations that see first-hand the impacts of marine debris in the oceans.
Read the full announcement here.
Brussels kicks things off with a party
Over the weekend, the Festival de l'Environnement in Brussels attracted thousands of people, with all sorts of fun activities on the local theme of "zero waste", including demonstrations of a zero-waste lifestyle and examples of sustainable food consumption and production. There were even chickens and poneys in the park.
The UN hosted a large tent at the festival, where visitors of all ages had the chance to play tag, sign the Clean Seas pledge, take quizzes, and play games. The tent was run in collaboration with the Volvo Ocean Race, and in association with the European Commission. Here's a look at the action: