Young Champions of Green Spaces Join Global Campaign

World clean-up day is celebrated every third Saturday of September to raise awareness of the global solid waste problem. During this time, millions of people join hands in picking up waste in parks, cities, beaches, community gardens, institutions or along the streets and neighbourhoods. 2020 is a different year as we are in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic with social distancing measures in place.

Despite these challenges, there are numerous stories and acts of courage as young champions of green spaces continue to advocate for change. The Wangari Maathai Foundation is creating space for youth voices to define what kind of world they will live in. We do this through Daima, a coalition of civic actors who have joined together to advocate for the protection of green spaces across urban centres in Kenya.

Millions of people around the world took action during this year’s world cleanup day under the theme, plastic change. In Kenya, different stakeholders and individuals drawn from youth-led organizations, civil society, governments and the private sector also participated in cleaning up their neighbourhoods, parks, public places, beaches, even conducting parallel virtual events to commemorate the day.  Here are some of the different ways our young champions of green spaces participated in the World Clean-up day:

In Kiambu County, the Githurai social justice centre, Let’s Do It Kenya, Green Jewel and Kiuu local community joined the world in commemorating the world clean-up day.

Some of our young champion of green spaces took part in the national celebrations that were led by the Cabinet Secretary Ministry of Environment and Forestry, CS Keriako Tobiko at City Park. Reflecting on why she chose to commemorate World Clean Up Day in the park. Anita Soina, a young champion of green spaces said,

“World Clean Up day to me does not necessarily mean picking up trash. I celebrated the world clean-up day by planting trees that will help clean and purify the air. We have very few green spaces and we are losing some of them to infrastructure development. We need to make our limited green spaces conducive through the planting and cultivation of more trees.”

According to Patricia Kombo, a young champion of green spaces, ‘Plastics make their way to the beaches, parks and streets which end up destroying the natural beauty of our environment”.

Stand Up Shout Out, a youth-led organization and part of the Daima coalition team also organized clean up exercises in different counties to promote responsible stewardship and raise awareness on the waste menace.

In Lake Victoria Kisumu Impala Park, where the Flipflopi, the world’s first sailing boat made entirely from plastic waste is currently being hosted, our young champion of green spaces, 14-year-old Rahmina Paulette led a group of children in collecting plastic waste along the streets and water spills.

We dump over 11 billion tonnes of waste worldwide each year according to the UN. Despite all these ongoing joint efforts to clean up the world, a recent New York Times expose highlighted a looming trade deal that would loosen the ban on plastic bags in Kenya. As such, young people from the Kenya Environmental Activists Network came together on 25th September which is Professor Wangari Maathai’s’ Memorial Day and the global day of action to demand an end to Petro-colonialism and invoke the Kenyan Ministry of trade not to accept the deal.  The campaign is dubbed #AfricaIsNotADumpster.

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