Well done, Siim Kiisler

Kristina Mänd who is responsible for Resource Mobilization is still in Nairobi. Here is her last update from one of the most important Environmental gathering of 2017.

Kristina Mänd: In his national statement in UNEA, the Estonian Minister of Environment, Siim Kiisler, invited all governments to be part of the movements and support civil society organizations (CSOs) who organize national cleanups and the World Cleanup Day.

Kiisler, who has been the Minister of Regional Affairs responsible for cooperating with CSOs, understands perhaps better than most politicians present in UNEA the true value of people’s initiative, the role of CSOs in implementing various policies, and how civic actions can create positive impact.

Kiisler’s speech followed the ones made by the presidents on Kenya, Guyana, and Trinidad and Tobago. They all said one thing in common: we have good ideas, but we have the implementation deficit. Each has approached the deficit challenge their own way, all of which are relevant to waste and cleanups: Kenya has adopted the law that bans single-use plastic bags. Trinidad and Tobago called upon having child advocates for climate change, cleanups and fighting pollution, and saving the adults from their own self-destruction. Guyana has already begun taking steps to reduce the level of pollution in its extractive industries and will not only reduce its use of mercury in the mining industry, but will work to eliminate the practice.

They really walk the talk and Minister Kiisler asked other governments to do the same: the global cleanup and the preparation of the World Waste Index, done by the Let’s Do It! World movement shows an extremely strong and convincing civil society initiated and public sector supported implementation.

All cleanup teams should write to their heads of the state and get them to talk about and participate in the cleanups. There are two main arguments to use: first, once you pick it up, you are less likely to litter again; once there is a plan to keep it clean, we can work on achieving that; and if the first one is not political enough try the second, the impact of global cleanup lies in the well-being of the communities around the world and in the pursuit of global sustainable development goals. Now, who can argue that!

Estonia’s presidents Toomas Hendrik Ilves and Kersti Kaljulaid, and Minister Kiisler have done it locally and internationally. What if the other 149 countries did it as well? The 5% goal of the people from the countries involved in the World Cleanup Day volunteering would become very accessible.