UNEP- United Nations Environment Programme.


Nepal goes green with a genial grin.

A typical day for 29-year-old Sukhai Mala begins with a visit to the local government office, where large posters promoting solar panels, organic farming and proper sanitation adorn the walls. From the office, Sukhai sets out on his bicycle, pedaling across road and field from house to house. With his youthful charm and friendly smile, he’s a persuasive spokesperson. And before the sun has set, he has spread his message to as many residents as he has been able to pedal to.
His message is environmental. Along with hundreds of other social mobilizers employed by the Government of Nepal, Mala explains the government’s new environmental incentives and schemes, and encourages citizens to adopt environmentally friendly behaviors.
This cadre of well-trained youth are familiar faces within their communities, well known for their accessible demeanor, their resourceful knowledge and their ability to advocate for the needs of the villagers with local government officials.
In 2013, Nepal adopted a national policy known as the Environmentally Friendly Local Governance Framework with the support of UN Environment, UNDP and other development partners. The ambitious policy was an attempt to green Nepal – from household doorsteps to the corridors of power. Across Nepal, citizens were incentivized to install solar panels, manage water and sanitation, practice organic farming, prepare for disasters, among other environmentally friendly initiatives.
UN Environment and partners have continued to support the Ministry of Federal Affairs and Local Development in turning this policy into actions with the social mobilizer program.
“When I first came here, there were approximately 1,700 households, but now it has increased to 2,200,” Mala says.
Strides in Sanitation
Photo by Marta Baraibar
Mala considers hygiene and sanitation one of his treasured wins. Discouraging open defecation among families can often be a sensitive discussion. In Central Terai, where Mala is employed, open defecation is still prevalent among 58% of the population. Resistance to change is high.
“Out of 1,700 households, only 80 or 85 had toilets. We went to each ward and village, gathered people and informed them about the usage and benefits of toilets in a way they would understand. We told them: if you spend 10,000 Nepali rupees to construct the toilet, if you have any disease you have to go to the hospital and spend 50,000. Building the toilet will help you save 40,000 rupees,” Mala recounts.
“Listening to us, many built their own toilets. For those who were too poor to afford it, we arranged for rings, seats and pipes through the village development committee. For a month, every day, we used to wake up at 4 a.m. and work until 10 p.m. to investigate if people were indeed building and using them. I think we’ve had a real impact now with nearly all households having toilets built.”
Promoting participation for the environment
Mala has drummed up community support and participation for climate change mitigation. The villages of Barsauli and Mangalpur, which he frequents, lie on the banks of the flood-prone Tinau river. Each year during the monsoon, villagers lose agricultural lands and abandon their homes and livestock for weeks on end until the water retreats.
Photo by Prashanthi Subramaniam
To tackle this, Mala and local authorities worked together to construct a dam with a row of trees that now shields the homes and farmlands of the villagers.
With training from the government, UN agencies and other partners, Mala is able to spread the word and help train villagers on environmentally friendly technology like cookstoves and trickle-drip irrigation systems. He encourages them to segregate their waste and ensures authorities provide waste management amenities.
Through the work of Mala and other social mobilizers, over 37,034 households and 18 wards have been declared “Environmentally Friendly” under the national policy. The Government of Nepal has allocated USD 2 million to try and replicate this success across the country.
As Nepal shifts toward a more federal governance structure, social mobilizers and community leaders like Mala can provide crucial support in advocating for the needs and priorities of poor and vulnerable communities. Social mobilizers cease to merely be envoys of the government, but become envoys of the community, inspiring people to raise their voices, claim their rights and demand services.
“For the past 7 years I have been working as a social mobilizer. I used to earn more. I feel money is important, but getting respect from people is more important. As a social mobilizer, it has helped me widen my network and build relationships. People respect me. I feel proud of that.”

Related Sustainable Development Goals


                                            Goal 1

                                                    No Poverty

                                            Goal 2

                                                    Zero Hunger

                                             Goal 6

                                                    Clean Water and Sanitation

                                             Goal 7

                                                    Affordable and Clean Energy

                                            Goal 11

                                                    Sustainable Cities and Communities

                                            Goal 12

                                                   Sustainable Consumption and Production

                                            Goal 13

                                                   Climate Action

                                            Goal 14

                                                   Life Below Water

                                           Goal 15

                                                  Life on Land

                                          Goal 17

                                                 Partnerships for the Goals

Plastic pollution: how humans are turning world into plastic.

Modern life would be impossible without plastic – but we have long since lost control over our invention. Why has plastic turned into a problem and what do we know about its dangers? This video is a collaboration with UN Environment and their Clean Seas campaign, If you want to take action to turn the tide on plastics, go to cleanseas and make your pledge. We also partnered with askscience on reddit – on you can talk to experts and ask questions about about plastic pollution today!
Sources used in the video:

Our planet is drowning in plastic pollution

This World Environment Day, it’s time for a change.

While plastic has many valuable uses, we have become addicted to single-use or disposable plastic — with severe environmental consequences. Around the world, one million plastic drinking bottles are purchased every minute, while up to 5 trillion single-use plastic bags are used worldwide every year. In total, half of all plastic produced is designed to be used only once — and then thrown away. Plastic waste is now so ubiquitous in the natural environment that scientists have even suggested it could serve as a geological indicator of the Anthropocene era. So how did we get here?

From the 1950s to the 70s, only a small amount of plastic was produced, so plastic waste was relatively manageable.
By the 1990s, plastic waste generation had more than tripled in two decades, following a similar rise in plastic production.
In the early 2000s, our output of plastic waste rose more in a single decade than it had in the previous 40 years.
Today, we produce about 300 million tonnes of plastic waste every year. That’s nearly equivalent to the weight of the entire human population.

Researchers estimate that more than 8.3 billion tonnes of plastic has been produced since the early 1950s. About 60% of that plastic has ended up in either a landfill or the natural environment.

We’re seeing some other worrying trends. Since the 1950s, the rate of plastic production has grown faster than that of any other material. We’ve also seen a shift away from the production of durable plastic, and towards plastics that are meant to be thrown away after a single use. More than 99% of plastics are produced from chemicals derived from oil, natural gas and coal — all of which are dirty, non-renewable resources. If current trends continue, by 2050 the plastic industry could account for 20% of the world’s total oil consumption.

These single-use plastic products are everywhere. For many of us, they’ve become integral to our daily lives.

Polyethylene terephthalate (PET)
Water bottles, dispensing containers, biscuit trays

High—density polyethylene (HDPE)
Shampoo bottles, milk bottles, freezer bags, ice cream containers

Low—density polyethylene (LDPE)
Bags, trays, containers, food packaging film

Polypropylene (PP)
Potato chip bags, microwave dishes, ice cream tubs, bottle caps

Polystyrene (PS)
Cutlery, plates, cups

Expanded polystyrene (EPS)
Protective packaging, hot drink cups

Source: “Banning single-use plastic: lessons and experiences from countries” UN Environment report (2018)

We need to slow the flow of plastic at its source, but we also need to improve the way we manage our plastic waste. Because right now, a lot of it ends up in the environment.

Only 9% of all plastic waste ever produced has been recycled. About 12% has been incinerated, while the rest — 79% — has accumulated in landfills, dumps or the natural environment. Cigarette butts — whose filters contain tiny plastic fibres — were the most common type of plastic waste found in the environment in a recent global survey. Drink bottles, bottle caps, food wrappers, grocery bags, drink lids, straws and stirrers were the next most common items. Many of us use these products every day, without even thinking about where they might end up.

Rivers carry plastic waste from deep inland to the sea, making them major contributors to ocean pollution

A staggering 8 million tonnes of plastic end up in the world’s oceans every year. How does it get there? A lot of it comes from the world’s rivers, which serve as direct conduits of trash from the world’s cities to the marine environment.








Huang He

Hai He


These 10 rivers alone carry more than 90% of the plastic waste that ends up in the oceans

Chang Jiang (Yangtze River) 1,469,481 tons

Indus 164,332 tons

Huang He (Yellow River) 124,249 tons

Hai He 91,858 tons

Nile 84,792 tons

Meghna, Brahmaputra, Ganges 72,845 tons

Zhujiang (Pearl River) 52,958 tons

Amur 38,267 tons

Niger 35,196 tons

Mekong 33,431 tons

Data from “Export of Plastic Debris by Rivers into the Sea” by Christian Schmidt, Tobias Krauth, and Stephan Wagner, published in Environmental Science & Technology (2017)

Plastic waste — whether in a river, an ocean, or on land — can persist in the environment for centuries.

The same properties that make plastics so useful — their durability and resistance to degradation — also make them nearly impossible for nature to completely break down. Most plastic items never fully disappear; they just get smaller and smaller. Many of these tiny plastic particles are swallowed by farm animals or fish who mistake them for food, and thus can find their way onto our dinner plates. They’ve also been found in a majority of the world’s tap water. By clogging sewers and providing breeding grounds for mosquitoes and pests, plastic waste — especially plastic bags — can increase the transmission of vector-borne diseases like malaria.

China’s Chang Jiang (Yangtze) River, which flows past Shanghai, delivers nearly 1.5 million tons of plastic waste into the Yellow Sea.

If current trends continue, our oceans could contain more plastic than fish by 2050.

While the United States, Japan and many European countries generate significant amounts of plastic waste, they’re also relatively good at managing it. About half of all of the plastic waste that ends up in the oceans comes from just five countries: China, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand and Viet Nam. These countries are experiencing rapid economic growth, which is reducing poverty rates and improving the quality of life for hundreds of millions of people. But as these economies grow, consumption booms — and so does the use of plastic goods.

The global volume of plastic waste continues to grow, and some of the biggest producers don’t manage their wasteeffectively.

100,0001,000,00010,000,000Tons of plastic waste generated annually% of inadequately managed plastic waste020406080

Data from “Plastic waste inputs from land into the ocean” by Jenna Jambeck and others, published in Science (2015)

But the world is waking up to the problem, and governments are starting to act.

There are a number of things that governments can do — from running public awareness campaigns, to offering incentives for recycling, to introducing levies or even banning certain products outright. In the last decade, dozens of national and local governments around the world have adopted policies to reduce the use of disposable plastic. And the number continues to grow. Africa stands out as the continent where the most countries have adopted a total ban on the production and use of plastic bags. Of the 25 African countries that have banned the bags, more than half have done so in the last four years alone.

An impressive — and growing — number of national and local governments have taken action against plastic pollution

Ban approved (light), in force (dark)Levy approved (light), in force (dark)Ban and levy approved (light), in force (dark)

Source: “Banning single-use plastic: lessons and experiences from countries” UN Environment report (2018)

We’ve seen a lot of positive action, but the truth is that we all need to do more.

This World Environment Day, the UN is calling on people everywhere to take concrete steps to #BeatPlasticPollution in their own lives. And you don’t have to wait until 5 June to act. There are so many things that you can do – from asking the restaurants you frequent to stop using plastic straws, to bringing your own coffee mug to work, to pressuring your local authorities to improve how they manage your city’s waste. Here are some other ideas:

Pressure food suppliers to usenon-plastic packaging

Bring your own shopping bags to the supermarket

Refuse plastic cutlery and straws

Pick up any plastic you see when you’re out walking

Carry a refillable water bottle

Tell your local officials that you support a ban on single-use plastic bags


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