President Alar Karis has called on the UN to name 20 September International World Cleanup Day and for member countries to support this. “I hope the day, which started in Estonia, inspires everyone to take the next step towards a cleaner and greener planet that is fit for us to live on,” he said at an event dedicated to World Cleanup Day which took place on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York.
The head of state says that World Cleanup Day draws attention to the importance of waste handling and promotes community inclusion and cooperation. “The impact of the campaign is not measured in the tonnes of waste collected, but in the number of people who change their way of life as a result of it,” he remarked. “It encourages individuals, communities and organisations to adopt sustainable habits and to take responsibility for their production, consumption and refuse.”
President Karis also stressed the importance of World Cleanup Day in environmental education and policies. “It emboldens countries and the local governments within them to address waste-handling infrastructure, to reduce the amount of waste they generate and to promote economical practices,” he said.
Approximately two billion tonnes of solid waste are generated around the globe annually, of which 16% is never collected and 40% is not handled in a way that is safe for the environment. “This crisis threatens the quality of life of billions of people, kills endangered plants and animals and deepens the climate crisis,” President Karis cautioned.
World Cleanup Day started out life as the “Let’s Do It!” campaign launched in Estonia in 2008. Now one of the biggest global civic society actions pertaining to the environment, it brings together more than 20 million people from 190 countries every year and contributes to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals – primarily making towns and cities safer and more sustainable places and bringing about changes in production and consumption habits.
This autumn, Estonia is submitting to the UN General Assembly for debate a resolution whose aim is to have World Cleanup Day officially added to the UN calendar so as to raise global awareness of the initiative even further. The UN Environment Assembly in Nairobi was issued in June with a recommendation that the General Assembly should declare 20 September International World Cleanup Day.