Insight to Building Partner Relations for World Cleanup Day 2018. Part II: Institutions

Year 2016 is all about securing resources (leaders, partners, money) for a successful World Cleanup Day in 2018. When speaking of partnerships, we are perhaps talking of a key element that makes a Let’s Do It! campaign what it is.

Kadi Kenk

Kadi Kenk

World Cleanup Day 2018 and Let’s Do It Foundation exist for, and by, exercising values we believe are the key to any positive change happening. These values are: cooperation, positivity and ambition to action. In the spirit of positivity and ambition to action, we are bringing together civic society, companies, governments and institutions.

Since the focus of 2016 is to secure resources (leaders, partners, money) for the World Cleanup Day, I explained in my first article, what building partner relations entails from the perspective of engaging the right leaders. In the light of the 71st General Assembly of the UN, this time the emphasis is on institutions.  

It is clear that to clean up every country in the world, the initiative must come from them. Best, if from the grass-root level, but certainly carried out collaboratively with all sectors of society. That is what our great leaders are capable of. However, when we talk of big issues, such as resources (commonly referred to as “trash”), governments feel more secure in taking big steps, when they feel they can make them together. Institutions (e.g. World Bank, United Nations, European Union, and also the Roman Catholic Church, the Academia, FIFA, Olympics Associations and Media) give the security to go ahead with big change. As much as is in our power, that is where the World Cleanup Day wishes to provide support to all the cleanup leaders.

What does institutional support give us?

  • credibility;
  • a network of high-level contacts;
  • a cooperation network; and
  • opportunities for financing.

In that order.

Credibility means that a certain target group will not take you seriously, until they see you are recognized for your actions in a form relevant to them. A teenager cares more for recognition from a peer or role model; a company wants to see who else, at least as important as them, has already supported you; your grandpa will not believe you are doing anything serious, until he sees you on the news. It is a vicious circle, but there is no escape. The credibility we get, can prove to be priceless when building a network.

A network of high-level contacts will welcome you more openly, once you have passed the first test of being recognized by a relevant institution. If we were good enough to be mentioned in a President’s speech to the nation, we are good enough to dine with the powerful. It is in these circles, we have a better chance to build cooperation networks, that possess power, contacts and money. That is needed for World Cleanup Day.

A cooperation network is something that some (not all) institutions are able to provide. Depending on how well they are managed internally, networks can contribute with great man and brain power to help us achieve our goal. Sometimes all we need is a positive nod from the president, and we get things on the move globally. Other times, a nod can merely mean, no-one will stand in our way as we work our way through the networks that the institutions have created. In any case, we have chosen a few institutions to move ahead with and believe our efforts will take us to great results.

Financing is something more complicated to achieve with the institutions. It is really in no-one’s agenda to finance World Cleanup Day, because no-one has ever dared to take up such an endeavour. And those, who spend cosmic amounts in dealing with symptoms of waste pollution, have a hard time directing the resources to tackling its root causes. However, one or other institution can have resources to invest in the social, environmental or health impacts the campaign has. Here, we highly encourage national organisations to check their eligibility and apply for support individually or regionally.

Recognition from institutions

It is important to remember that institutions are uniting individual subjects that regardless of being united under one theme remain sovereign. For example, the UN does not form a super government because it unites nations of the world. However, it does give common grounds to discuss global issues. For that reason, Let’s Do It Foundation, an accredited member of UNEP, is leading a joint initiative with the UN – to call 2018 The International Year of a Clean and Healthy Planet.

To draw attention of the UN, we addressed the General Secretary of the UN with a motion. Referring to the Global Waste Management Outlook report (published in 2015 by UNEP and the International Solid Waste Association) we pointed out the overwhelming and uncontrolled amounts of dumped waste. Of over 4 billion tons a year globally, less than 20% of it is recycled. About a third of the waste is not even collected, but simply dumped into rivers, burnt openly, or dumped onto the streets and byways of townships and cities globally. An unknown quantity leaks into the oceans (ca 8 million tons of plastics a year) jeopardising marine life and marine food stocks.

It is our aim to ask for the recognition of the UN that, by our concerted effort (of World Cleanup Day and cooperation for a clean world plan), we will finally get across the message that to live well, to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, to give the people of the world a chance to share in the progress of development more equally, we need to live on a clean planet. In the UN terms, tackling waste pollution, adopting sustainable waste management systems, redesigning and innovating for maximum material recovery will play a significant role in reaching the Goals for Sustainable Development. Out of the 17 Goals, World Cleanup Day is addressing nine of them directly. Bear in mind, there are not many problems in the world you could say, can be solved in one day!

But UN would not be the first institution to react to the growing success of Let’s Do It campaigns. Already in 2011, with a great and fruitful effort, the European Parliament signed a declaration to call the governments of the European Union to actively promote initiatives and citizens to join the action and for the Member States to make additional efforts to fully implement and enforce the existing EU waste legislation in their countries. Today as the Circular Economy Package is being introduced and improved under the Commissioner of Environment, Mr. Karmenu Vella, Let’s Do It Foundation is actively campaigning for Mr. Vella to become a patron for World Cleanup Day – a perfect outcome for Europe to raise awareness and spread a call to action on every level of society.  

And so, we aim to address the biggest institutions in the world, the UN, the EU, FIFA and UEFA and the Olympians, to help spread the word of World Cleanup Day to 1 billion people alongside all the efforts of every national team, to make a change in the world waste problem in one single day and to make the change everlasting.

Did reading this piece give you ideas? Who would you address? We welcome all who are willing to lend a hand, because at the end of the day, behind every institution, there are people. And for a fruitful cooperation, people need to talk to people. The more we are, the more we can do! Institutions do not determine the success of World Cleanup Day, but they have a great power to help us accomplish much more in a shorter time. And that is an opportunity we should not let go to waste.


Kadi Kenk, Let’s Do It! World Head of Partnerships


Read Kadi’s first article of the series here.