Over 120,000 Youth Turn the Tide on Plastic Pollution in India
· The first phase of UNEP’s Tide Turner Plastic Challenge in India sees the participation of 127,009 youth; 28 States and 8 UT’s; 3000 Institutions and organisations; 1000 facilitators and 20 Partners
· The virtual National Youth Summit held today to honour the achievements of 1700 top achievers, who completed levels of Challenge saw the participation of 5000+ youth in a virtual show of strength in the fight against single-use plastic
· Addressing the youth were globally renowned wildlife conservationist Dr. Jane Goodall, UN Messenger of Peace, Ms. Dia Mirza, UNEP Goodwill Ambassador and Ms. Sonika Manandhar, UN Champion of the Earth-2019
30th June, New Delhi – The Tide Turner Plastic Challenge is UNEP’s global initiative to engaging youth across India to address the issue of plastic pollution, which threatens life in oceans, rivers and on land. The initiative seeks to educate young individuals on single-use plastic and catalyses action that will reduce plastic pollution both on land and in the oceans. It also aims to motivate them to change their own behaviour and to work to change norms around single-use plastic at both individual and community levels.
All participants had to undertake multiple levels of challenges. First, they had to audit their plastic footprint and take action to reduce it. At the next leader level, they were expected to influence and mobilize their institutions and communities for accelerated collaborative action. At the final championship level, they were expected to initiate dialogues with authorities in schools, colleges, corporations and businesses and advocate practices to mitigate plastic pollution through embracing policies to reduce the use of disposable plastic on their premises.
In all, 1700+ youth qualified for the championship badge.
With increasing use of single-use plastic in this era of COVID -19 pandemic this programme assumed even greater significance. The initiative also enjoyed strong support of the Government of India’s Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MOEFCC).
Speaking on the occasion, Dr. Jane Goodall (DBE), Founder, The Jane Goodall Institute, and UN Messenger of Peace said, “Every individual matters and makes a difference every single day, but it is up to you to choose the kind of difference you wish to make.”
Congratulating all the youth participants, Mr. Atul Bagai, UNEP India Country Head said, “I look forward to each one of you spreading the message against the use of single-use plastic. With the Tide Turner Challenge, we hope to come closer to Prime Minister Modi’s 2022 vision of a Single-Use Plastic-free India”. With MOEFCC ‘s strong support, in the next phase of the Tide Turners Plastic Challenge, we will focus on targeting students from the ECO clubs established in schools across India to further accelerate our fight against single-use plastic. I also would like to thank our implementing partners, WWF, CEE (Centre for Environment Education) and MSF (Million Sparks Foundation) for making this an unqualified success.”
Sharing the achievements for this session, Radhika Suri, Director, Environment Education, WWF-India said, ”The Tide Turner Challenge is a unique opportunity for youth to understand and act against the excessive consumption of single use plastic which is impacting the health of the planet. We believe that education is the first step and the challenge has been successful in empowering the future generation with knowledge to lead environmental action and bend the curve of nature loss”.
Highlighting on the process of implementation of this initiative, Kartikeya Sarabhai, Director of CEE said, “Youth has the power to bring about positive change. The Plastic Tide Turner Challenge was designed as an online platform for youth to participate, learn, act and share in the global challenge that plastic pollution causes. The COVID pandemic added another dimension to the challenge. It is therefore wonderful the way over a 120,000 youth in India, joined their counterparts in other countries to get involved in this challenge and wished to contribute to the solution.”
Dr. Abhinav Mathur, Founder, Director of MSF, underlining the technical challenges faced during implementation to reach out to all the participants in remote locations through online modes and E platforms during lockdown conditions, said: “Partnering with the Tide Turners Challenge enabled us to take constructive steps in realizing one of Million Sparks Foundation’s core beliefs of accelerating SDG action by taking them to all school children.”