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In Nairobi, UN Vice-Chancellor welcomes youth-led development solutions – Global issues

We’re ‘swamped by plastic’

“The plastic pollution challenge affects us all. From the bottom of the sea to the highest mountains, our world is covered with toxic plastic,” Ms. Mohammed noted later, at the conclusion of a session of the United Nations Environment Council in Nairobi’s capital, Nairobi. Kenya on Wednesday.

“We all have a role to play in the solution,” she said.

Nzambi actually played his part.

On an ordinary day, she would spend her time around plastic waste, creatively turning a dreaded problem into a sustainable solution. Landless. No furnace. Just plastic bottles, collected from households all over Nairobi, and turned into beautiful, sturdy building blocks and paving.

UNEP Earth Youth Champion, Nzambi Matee, at her workshop, where she turns plastic waste into bricks.

© UNEP

UNEP Earth Youth Champion, Nzambi Matee, at her workshop, where she turns plastic waste into bricks.

On Tuesday 1 March, she was one of more than a dozen young environmental advocates who met the UN deputy director general on the sidelines of the Fifth United Nations Environment Councilof consideration. Ms. Mohammed, who is very interested in innovative youth-led solutions, had previously joined another youth-led initiative, Through a River for Sustainable Development (Adopt- a-River), with the goal of alleviating the global water crisis through activities focused on freshwater ecosystems at the local level.

This initiative works to contribute to achieving Sustainable development goals through the protection, restoration and maintenance of local freshwater ecosystems.

“When I toured this river restoration project, I was struck by the fact that plastic is both a symbol of human ingenuity and a flagship of unsustainable production and consumption. Today, no corner of the planet is affected by plastic pollution”, Ms Mohammed later told the Council, noting that “due to the lack of effective waste management systems, a large portion of this plastic end up in our oceans – 11 million tons per year according to current estimates. ”

Deputy Secretary General Amina Mohammed meets with young environmental activists in the UNEP garden.

© UNEP / Daniel Getachew

Deputy Secretary General Amina Mohammed meets with young environmental activists in the UNEP garden.

‘A welcome step’ towards ending plastic pollution

The next day, Nzambi must have smiled even brighter as the Heads of State, Environment Ministers and other representatives from 175 countries adopted a historic resolution at the United Nations Environment Council in Nairobi to put an end to plastic pollution and develop an internationally binding agreement by 2024.

The settlement address the entire plastic life cycle, including production, design and disposal.

“The planet deserves a multilateral solution that speaks from source to sea,” Ms. Mohammed said at the conclusion of the Council, adding, “A legally binding global agreement on plastic pollution would be a really welcome first step.”

With its recycling and energy-enhancing work, Nzambi has positioned itself at the end of this plastic lifecycle, while creating job opportunities for an issue of global attention.

Deputy Secretary General Amina Mohammed visits the Adopt-a-River initiative at Kawangware Primary School, Nairobi to witness the ecosystem restoration efforts first-hand.

© UNEP / Artan Jama

Deputy Secretary General Amina Mohammed visits the Adopt-a-River initiative at Kawangware Primary School, Nairobi to witness the ecosystem restoration efforts first-hand.

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