This year we witnessed another great Clean Up the World Weekend. Millions of volunteers rolled up their sleeves and took positive action for our planet by joining the more than 700 groups from 120 countries participating in Clean Up the World this year.
Together they transcended political and geographical boundaries to unite for a common goal – a cleaner and healthier planet, a brighter future for our children.
This year we noticed a further shift in the type of activity being undertaken, and this got us thinking about where we’ve come from and where we’re headed.
When Clean Up the World started 18 years ago, our focus was on encouraging groups to clean up their community by removing rubbish supported by education about the 4R’s (refuse, reduce, reuse and recycle). These “clean up” activities remain powerful actions that unite communities, raise awareness of protecting our environment and deliver positive changes in litter and recycling behaviours right around the world. This is something we can all be proud of and should continue.
Reflecting our mission, clean ups have often evolved into activities that fix up and conserve the environment. Water restoration, tree planting and conservation are a few examples.
In 2010, with the focus on biodiversity, we saw a lot of our participants launch new initiates – with longer term activities to ensure a healthy, thriving natural environment in their local area.
In Spain, for example, local government group Programa de Voluntariado Ambiental en Espacios Naturales de la Region de Murcia, ran a biodiversity awareness campaign which included an exhibition on Murcia’s natural environment.
Operation Green Kumba conducted by Forestry & Environmental Conservation Society (FOECONS) saw 500 trees planted in the city of Kumba in Cameroon. The planting coincided with a radio program highlighting the importance of trees for habitat rehabilitation and reducing climate change.
A Kenyan community organisation, Community Based Environmental Conservation, works year-round to protect sea turtles. Over Clean Up the World Weekend, volunteers ran a lobbying campaign for sustainable fishing, nest protection and monitoring programs.
Volunteers gathered at the Jordan Valley Eco Park near Amman for an environmental education day. The Australian Embassy, in conjunction with the Friends of the Earth Middle East, conducted a clean up and learnt about how this park is being brought back to life by re-introducing indigenous plants and building walking paths for visitors that protect and raise awareness of the local fauna and flora.
I encourage all our participants to continue and expand on these fix up activities. This will help us ensure that the attention on biodiversity extends beyond 2010 and that we are focussed on restoring and protecting our precious environment for years to come.
Whole plant and animal species are disappearing at a faster rate than any other time in human history. Our unsustainable methods of consumption, destruction of habitats, expanding cities, pollution, deforestation, and climate change are all contributing to their extinction.
Communities working in partnership with Clean Up the World, are in a strong position to be a driving global force in turning biodiversity loss around.
Preventing and removing waste from the environment is an important first step, as that stops the accumulation of pollution. Protecting and preserving our environment is the next stage.
Imagine the positive impact we’ll make to the planet by keeping our focus on protecting, restoring and promoting nature. It all comes down to caring – caring for nature, caring for our communities and caring for the next generations to come.
This fills me with a great sense of hope and inspiration. I hope you will join us on this important journey – to win the race against biodiversity extinction.
Ian Kiernan AO