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U-recycle Initiative Africa wins $100,000 from the Inclusive GEF Assembly Challenge to tackle plastic pollution in Nigeria

By Guardian Nigeria
28 August 2023   |   2:47 am
Vancouver, Canada (August 23rd 2023)- In a record-breaking feat to tackle plastic pollution and advance youth development in Nigeria, U-recycle Initiative Africa

Vancouver, Canada (August 23rd 2023)- 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.

The winning projects were announced during the GEF Assembly, a once-every-four-year gathering of 185 countries taking place this week in Vancouver.

Each awardee will receive a grant of up to $100,000 and gain access to networking, training, and knowledge exchange opportunities through the GEF, a family of funds that finances international efforts to address biodiversity loss, pollution, and climate change.

“Global environmental challenges affect us all, but their impacts are almost entirely locally felt. It is our privilege to celebrate and fund these locally-designed, locally-led remedies for climate resilience, coastline protection, biodiversity conservation, and more,” GEF CEO and Chairperson Carlos Manuel Rodriguez said, celebrating the winners.

“The Inclusive GEF Assembly Challenge Program is a concrete example of our focus on supporting civil society and lifting up the voices and innovations of Indigenous Peoples, women, youth, and others who have been historically under-represented in international environmental financing and policy,” Rodriguez said.

The 23 winners were chosen from nearly 600 applications, by a selection panel made up of the GEF’s CSO Network, Scientific and Technical Advisory Panel, Indigenous Peoples’ Advisory Group, and Gender Partnership, as well as youth representatives linked to international environmental conventions.

Oluwaseyi Moejoh, Executive Director of U-recycle Initiative Africa, had this to say, “we are redefining what it means for young people to be the change, especially in light of critical issues like plastic pollution, with this support from GEF we can scale our work to unimaginable horizons, empowering the most marginalized to move beyond being victims to becoming solution-providers.”

Esther Morenikeji Emmanuel, a representative of U-recycle Initiative Africa at the GEF Assembly, said support from the Inclusive GEF Assembly Challenge Program would help expand the organization’s efforts to reduce plastic waste in Nigeria. “If you want to see change, you have to start small in the areas where you can have a direct impact,” she said. “It is also easy to begin taking action locally because you can see the issues so clearly.”

Tom Bui, Canada’s representative on the GEF Council, welcomed the Inclusive GEF Assembly Challenge Program as a cornerstone “celebrating our unsung environmental heroes.”

The Inclusive GEF Assembly Challenge Program is funded by the Global Environment Facility’s two climate change adaptation funds – the Least Developed Countries Fund (LDCF) and Special Climate Change Fund (SCCF) – which have worked for more than 20 years to close financing gaps and provide targeted funding to meet the specific needs of the world’s most vulnerable countries.

About U-recycle Initiative Africa;

U-recycle Initiative Africa is an award-winning youth-led NGO, empowering the next generation of change-makers to tackle plastic pollution and climate change at the root- the mind. Led by a team of visionary young leaders, they are leveraging environmental education and youth development to drive meaningful change in Nigeria and Africa. Their efforts have been recognized and funded by notable organizations such as the National Geographic Society, the Government of Canada, and the Captain Planet Foundation.

Through creative educational tools and comprehensive capacity-building programs, U-recycle Initiative is connecting young Africans from marginalized communities with the tools, knowledge and resources they need to create positive change for the environment- bridging the gap. Over the last 5 years, they have deployed over 50+ environmental and youth development projects, impacting 10,000+ youths in 11 African countries directly.