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The Plastic Initiative: A long-term plan to prevent us from drowning in waste

The Plastic Initiative: A long-term plan to prevent us from drowning in waste

Plastic pollution has become one of the most pressing environmental issues of modern times, threatening human health, wealth and environmental biodiversity.

Currently 13 million metric tons of plastic enter the world’s oceans every year. An estimated accumulation of 12 billion tons by 2050 poses a bleak outlook for all life in terms of damage to human health, the environment and the global economy. Asia especially is contributing to the constantly rising amount of detritus with 15 of the 20 most plastic-polluted rivers.

A recent study revealed the discovery of nine different types of plastic in the faeces of people all around the world, indicating that plastic has entered our food chain. The effects on human life is still to be determined.

This is an ongoing global problem that needs to be addressed collaboratively by local communities and both the public and private sectors. We need to mobilise youth, raise awareness, enhance environmental education and, most importantly, take action. There is no ‘easy fix’. Clean-up campaigns alone are not enough. We need to address the problem as a whole by reducing plastic usage and waste as well as cleaning up the existing pollution. We are all responsible.

What is UNESCO's Plastic Initiative Plan? We want to use the UNESCO Biosphere Reserves to test promising grass-roots projects developed by dedicated young people, and funded by UNESCO, to clean up the current mess and reduce future plastic pollution. These can be a mix of short and long-term projects that can be applied on a global scale – after testing and evaluation – as best waste management practices, supported by government officials. We intend for funding to be made available to the 152 UNESCO Biosphere Reserves and anyone can submit projects for evaluation.

The Plastic Initiative will be introduced during World Science Day events on 12 November at UNESCO Bangkok and 13 November at the Asian Institute of Technology (AIT).

The World Science Day for Peace and Development strives to bring together and educate national and industrial representatives about plastic pollution and present possible solutions and initiatives to address this worldwide problem.

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