In a record-breaking feat to tackle plastic pollution and advance youth development in Nigeria, U-recycle Initiative Africa, a youth-led environmental NGO, emerges as the only winner from Nigeria amongst 23 other global winners in the GEF Inclusive GEF, Assembly Challenge announced in Canada, last week.
The World Bank estimates that Nigeria discharges around 200,000 tons of plastic waste into the ocean per year, while its annual plastics production is projected to grow to 523,000 tons by 2022. The report estimates that Nigeria will be the nation producing the largest amount of mismanaged plastic waste in Africa by 2025 if drastic measures are not taken. In addition, marine plastic pollution as a result of illegal waste dumping and excessive littering is destroying marine ecosystems, exacerbating poverty and hunger in vulnerable coastal communities, affecting the livelihoods of fishermen and their families, and causing destructive floods in inland areas due to block drains and canals.
To tackle this issue proactively from the root, U-recycle Initiative Africa develops creative educational tools and robust capacity-building programs to connect young people with the knowledge opportunities and skills they need to create solutions to the plastic pollution crisis. Leveraging accessible technology and creative solutions, they are teaching university and secondary school students’ practical ways to reduce plastic pollution in Nigeria on a daily basis.
In the last 5 years, U-recycle Initiative Africa has deployed over 50+ projects reaching over 10,000 young people in 20+ states in Nigeria and 11 African Countries. In 2022, U-recycle Initiative Africa won a grant from the Government of Canada through the Afriplastics Challenge to launch their nationwide campus project called the PlasticWize Fellowship, which is on a mission to build the largest campus movement geared towards tackling plastic pollution in Nigeria and other parts of Africa. This project empowers university students across Nigeria with the knowledge, tools, and resources to take a stand against marine plastic pollution through proactive, comprehensive, and creative interventions.
On August 23rd, 2023, The Global Environment Facility announced U-recycle Initiative Africa, alongside 22 other civil society organizations, as winners of its Inclusive GEF Assembly Challenge Program, a novel initiative reflecting a commitment to support and elevate community-driven climate and nature projects and the unique contributions of Indigenous Peoples, women, girls, and young people across the GEF partnership.
The Global Environment Facility (GEF) was established on the eve of the 1992 Rio Earth Summit to help tackle our planet’s most pressing environmental problems. Today the GEF is the largest funder of projects to improve the global environment. The Global Environment Facility (GEF) is a partnership among 185 countries, international institutions, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and the private sector to address global environmental issues while supporting national sustainable development initiatives.