The Plastic Initiative: Inspiration for Youth

At UNESCO, we take this issue very seriously. With its World Network of Biosphere Reserves, as well as its capacities in the Natural Sciences, Education and Youth Mobilization, UNESCO is capable of playing a substantial role in addressing the problem. The Organization has a clear mandate in particular in the Natural Sciences, as well as in Education, with a view to the Decade of Education for Sustainable Development. 

We therefore propose a comprehensive regional approach throughout Asia-Pacific, minimizing plastic pollution via the mobilization of youth in UNESCO Biosphere Reserves. These are ideal places to systematically test existing and innovative ideas to clean up ecosystems and to keep them clean, with the involvement of Government authorities, the private sector and young people. The UNESCO Office in Bangkok, in partnership with UNESCO Offices in Beijing, Islamabad, Jakarta, New Delhi, and Headquarters in Paris has developed a plan to this effect (please see our enclosed poster and concept note).

There is no ‘easy fix’ to improve the situation, otherwise the issue would have been solved already. School clean-up campaigns are not enough. We need to engage young people, raise awareness, enhance environmental education and take action. We need to involve Governments to adjust policies and practices, and the private sector to support professional action to clean up the mess. Within 152 UNESCO Biosphere Reserves, we will test best waste-management practices and behavioural change, and then implement and replicate the most effective strategies in local communities. 

For further detailed information, please contact our focal point, Dr Benno Böer, Programme Specialist in Natural Sciences at UNESCO Bangkok, who can be reached at [email protected].