09.06.2017 - UNESCO Office in Nairobi

UNESCO Partners with Local Organizations in Celebrating World Environment Day and World Oceans Day in Kenya


On the occasion of World Environment Day and World Oceans Day 2017, UNESCO and its partners, including UN Environment and UN Information Center, organized awareness-raising activities on the importance of the environment protection and conservation of oceans and marine resources.

On the occasion of World Environment Day and World Oceans Day 2017, UNESCO Regional Office for Eastern Africa and its partners, which included UN Environment and UN Information Center (UNIC), partnered with Ocean-Sole, Local Ocean Trust, Regeneration Africa and several other community organizations in, and around Malindi and Watamu Beach, in the coastal region of Kenya, creating an alliance, #CleanSeas, to sensitize those communities about the importance of behavior change as far as environmental protection and conservation were concerned. The celebration which took place over a 3-day period (3-5 June), included the organization three specific events, namely; cleaning of the Watamu beach; a football match featuring school children (both boys and girls) from the communities; and sponsoring a visit of university students to a local industry, Regeneration Africa, to observe first-hand how trash can be turned into treasure, thus providing young people an opportunity to earn income. The events were also designed to coincide with the World Ocean Conference, which opened at the United Nations Headquarters in New York, on 5 June, running through 9 June 2017.

The clean-up of Watamu beach was immediately followed by a two-hour sensitization of the youth on how conservation can also be used as an entrepreneurial opportunity. A representative from Regeneration Africa, Sam Ngaruiya, demonstrated to the young people how the plastic waste, flip flops and other waste removed from the beach will be processed into products such as mattresses, pavement blocks and the like, thus bringing in income for the industry, while also economically empowering community members who are rewarded financially for collecting and recycling the waste. He also noted that the waste materials collected from the beach will be used for building a 60 feet Flip Flopi Dhow which will then sail from Lamu, in coastal Kenya to Cape Town, South Africa, to raise awareness on clean oceans, as part of the collaborative initiative involving UNESCO and other UN partners.

The celebration also highlighted the importance of protecting sea animals such as the sea turtle, from waste products such as plastic that is often dumped into the ocean, and end up being consumed by turtles and even fish (infecting them in the process), with the latter frequently ending on dinner tables around the world. The climax of the day was the symbolic release of a green turtle (which had been rescued from the sea through a programme run by a local conservation group, Local Ocean Conservation Trust, and treated for an infection stemming from consuming plastic) into the Indian ocean by Abdul Rahman Lamin, Social and Human Sciences Specialist from UNESCO Regional Office in Nairobi, highlighting the significance of protecting the animal, which is now considered an endangered species.

Aware of the 2017 World Environment Day theme, Connecting People to Nature and the theme of World Oceans Day, Our Oceans, Our Future, the partners were able to promote the adoption of conservation entrepreneurship by turning waste into cash (Trash to Treasure). Conservation entrepreneurship is a proven way to engage youth, and socially integrate the concept of the green economy, in leading by example in the areas of waste management, recycling, and up-cycling, to make oceans sustainable. The key message was that young people need to be responsible for their future both financially and environmentally, educating them how to generate income from waste. On 5 June, UNESCO supported 30 Environment Club students from Pwani University, to visit Regeneration Africa, a Malindi-based private company, that buys plastic and flip flops and recycles them into products for income generation. The students were taken through the process of collection, sorting, production and processing of the plastic and flip-flops. The students were excited to learn how plastic and flip flops could create jobs and how they could collect plastic for income generation. The visit also provided students an experimental learning opportunity to see conservation entrepreneurship in action, by recycling trash from the beaches and then designing sculptures, mattresses, pavement blocks and fence posts in value addition, for sale in local and international markets.

The three activities were designed as part of a series of efforts that UNESCO and its partners in Kenya plan to embark on, as a contribution towards the implementation of SDG 14, to conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development, and in doing so, involving the youth.

Check the Flickr albums on:

Clean-up initiative at Watamu Beach

Turtle Release World Environment Day 2017

Waste management and economic empowerment of youth 


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