World Environment Day, on the 5th of June, brings together millions of people from across the globe, rallying communities to protect and restore the Earth. This year marks the event’s 50th anniversary and is focused on combating plastic pollution.
With more than 150 countries participating in this United Nations international day, #WED celebrates environmental action and solidifying the commitment and power of governments, businesses, and individuals to create a more sustainable world.
Our planet is choking on plastic
Around the world, one million plastic bottles are purchased every minute, while up to five trillion plastic bags are used worldwide every year – these products are used once and then thrown away causing damage to our environments especially the planet’s oceans.
The rate of plastic production has grown faster than that of any other material and if this growth continues, global production of primary plastic is forecasted to reach 1,100 million tonnes by 2050 with the UN announcing a worrying shift towards single-use plastic products, items that are meant to be thrown away after a single short use.
For real change to be apparent, we need systematic change to resolve devastation to our natural eco-systems. Earlier this year, we launched our Water Appeal which centred around world water month and the importance of groundwater for our very survival. Rivers and lakes carry plastic waste from deep inland to the sea, making them major contributors to ocean pollution as well as contaminating water sources needed for consumption and crop production.
According to the UN:
“Unless we change how we produce, use and dispose of plastic, the amount of plastic waste entering aquatic ecosystems could nearly triple from 9-14 million tonnes per year in 2016 to a projected 23-37 million tonnes per year by 2040”.
As individual’s we can make a difference by being conscious of our purchasing choices, always re-use or re-purpose where possible, recycle and dispose of waste properly.
But big impact and change comes from collective effort and governments and companies are key players in taking impactful action which addresses the root causes of environmental damage. Firstly, they can eliminate the plastic products we do not need, through bans and market regulations. Governments can also promote innovation so the plastics we need are designed and brought into the economy in a way that allows for their reuse and regulation can also ensure we circulate plastic in the economy for as long as possible.
At IJI, we champion climate action projects globally, centred around communities who are the world’s marginalised. In Malawi, for almost a decade now, we have supported the Jesuit Centre for Ecology & Development (JCED) which is empowering vulnerable communities by not only strengthening livelihoods but building capacity and resilience to the growing challenges of climate change.
From tackling the problem of soil erosion by tree planting to sustainability focused on livelihoods, such as the Mbira stove project which has empowered women to not only support themselves financially but also reduce the use of firewood which has cause severe deforestation in Malawi.
But as well as building local capacity and sustainability, JCED has also stepped onto the international stage demanding for Climate justice, responding to the cry of the earth and the poor by attending COP meetings lobbying for governments to bring about systematic change and empowering Malwai’s youth to take charge of their futures in ways which respect the earth and all people.
At IJI we strive to support the world’s most vulnerable and marginalised putting equitable sustainability in action which is about supporting projects working WITH people not for them. At JCED, led by Brother Ngoni, climate action is just that – working with people and supporting them in ways which has equity and comradeship combined.
For more information on World Environment Day, click here
& for more on all our projects on sustainability, visit our archive, here