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Global effort against 75 trn tonnes of plastic waste: UNESCO YOD tackles plastic pollution with Nigerian students


As global concerns over 75 trillion tonnes of plastics in circulation grow, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has inspired actions in Nigeria along with other countries of the world.

In Nigeria, the Youth Orientation for Development (YOD) led by a UNESCO ambassador, Emmanuel Ejiogu, which is working with the UNESCO on the programme, has added youth empowerment to this campaign against plastic waste. Ejiogu was part of the UNESCO global conference where decisions were taken on action plans for future work.

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The non-governmental organization (NGO) working with UNESCO known as the Youth for Development (YOD) is said to have recently conducted an initiative at Shinning Lord Schools, Lagos, Nigeria.

Studies indicate that plastics are made from fossil fuels and none of the almost 75 trillion pieces so far produced in the past 100 years has degraded, forming up to 80% of all marine pollution. It is also feared that by 2050, plastic will likely outweigh all fish in the sea because in the past 10 years, humans may have produced more plastic products than in the previous century. Unfortunately, plastic generally takes between 500 and 1000 years to degrade, and even if it does, it becomes microplastics, without fully degrading. This is said to have led to many fish species going extinct. Plastic has also entered into human food chain with threatening consequences, according UNESCO findings.

Now, the UNESCO YOD is leading in fight against plastic in Nigeria. The Programmes Lead for YOD, Victoria Inikpi Amodu, led in the plastic gathering exercise to make it attractive to students.

She said the exercise was aimed at educating and orienting students on the importance of tackling plastic waste within their communities.

She told BusinessDay in her brief report the initiative aligns with the United Nations Environment Programme’s (UNEP) Zero Plastic Pollution initiative, a global movement promoting responsible plastic use and waste management.

“Educating and empowering young minds is key to building a sustainable future,” stated Amodu. “Through this exercise, we hope to equip students at Shinning Lord Schools with the knowledge and tools they need to become agents of change in the fight against plastic pollution, and to become global citizens.”

Following a quick address by the programmes lead, the exercise kicked off into the streets. Students, teachers, and UNESCO YOD representatives were assembled, fully equipped with the necessary tools, for a hands-on learning experience. Reports said this practical component saw the group tackling plastic pollution directly, with clean-up efforts extending into streets and even canals.

According to the team lead, the programme delved into the complexities of highlighting its detrimental impact on ecosystems, human health, and the global economy. “Students participated in interactive sessions, gaining valuable insights into sustainable practices and solutions like biodegradable alternatives and responsible waste management.

“This initiative by UNESCO YOD exemplifies the organization’s commitment to fostering youth leadership in environmental action. By equipping young people with the knowledge and skills necessary to address plastic pollution, UNESCO Youth Orientation for Development is laying the groundwork for a more sustainable future.”