From Poland to El Salvador, Fiji to Taiwan, Argentina to the United Kingdom, more than 40 million people in 120 countries around the globe participated in this grass-roots environmental campaign over the weekend of September 19-21. The Australian-initiated Clean Up the World campaign is held in conjunction with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).
One of the most active nations in 1997 was Italy, where more than 500,000 volunteers cleaned up 3500 sites in 1300 towns and cities. The national clean up concentrated on parks, city squares, and monuments with special clean ups targeting the Trieste and Sardinia coastlines as well as the parts of Sardinia, Lugunia and Tuscany. Archeological sites in Naples also received special attention during the campaign. Nationally, more than 2000 tons of waste was collected, with over 300 tons of waste recycled.
In Fiji, an estimated 22,000 people collected more than 500 truckloads of rubbish from sites all across the nation. The Acting Prime Minister, Ms. Taufa Vakatale, along with the Minister for the Environment, Mr. Villsoni Cagimalvei, joined school children, mayors, High Chiefs, business people, Rotarians, the Fiji Hotel Association, the Fiji Military Forces and local citizens in cleaning up sites all across the nation.
"We have been overwhelmed by the support we have received from the community. There appears to be no section of the community that has not been touched by, or involved in, this global campaign," said Clean Up Fiji organizer, Caz Tebbutt.
The Australian Ambassador to the United States, Mr. Andrew Peacock, also lent his support to the event - joining 500 volunteers (including 80 from the Australian Embassy), to help clean up and repair the historic Woodlawn Cemetery in Washington DC, USA. The universal appeal of the campaign was highlighted by the participation of volunteers from the Embassies of the Bahamas, Micronesia and The Netherlands.
Hundreds of volunteers including school children, youth groups, and community members all joined together in a massive clean up of four different neighbourhoods in the ancient city of Jerusalem, Israel. Parks, playgrounds, pre-schools and main thoroughfares were the focus of the clean up, in this, its fourth year participating in Clean Up the World.
The town of San Marcos, Argentina saw more than 90 volunteers unite to collect more than 70 bags of rubbish from a two-kilometre stretch of riverfront and public road. Activities held throughout Argentina over the weekend included environmental talks, poster competitions, tree planting, recycling programs and the introduction of community awareness campaigns aimed at educating citizens about the need to protect the environment.
In Portugal, 90 volunteers from Scouts groups, youth associations, schools, universities and the local communities of Outeiro/Montalegre and Geres-Vilar da Veiga/Terras de Bouro joined forces to remove rubbish from various sites across the city. Plays and other activities were staged to create greater awareness of environmental issues within the community.
Nairobi City Park, which is under threat from encroaching developers, was the focus of clean up activities in Kenya. Approximately 10,000 volunteers cleaned up in eight locations around the country, with Mayor Dick Waweru and senior government officers among the volunteers in Nairobi.
Environmental plays, rallies, T-shirt design competitions, parades, and the painting of environmental murals were some of the activities conducted in Mumbai, India, during the Clean Up the World weekend. The Sheriff of Mumbai, Ms Usha Kiron, joined hundreds of school children, youth groups, police and community members in cleaning up the streets of Mumbai City.
While in Kini, Syros, Greece, 150 people (including villagers, tourists, scouts and school children) registered to clean up local beaches and streets. Volunteers, including six divers, collected more than 30 bags of garbage such as old tyres, fishing line, old fishing nets and carpet. The good news is that less rubbish was collected than in previous years!
"It is important to note the fact that people are no longer throwing things overboard because they are too lazy to carry it back home - everything recovered was due to accidental loss from boats. It appears the message has hit home after five years of clean up campaigns," assistant Clean Up the World coordinator in Kini, Ms. Trudy Boukas, said.
"The level of achievement and commitment displayed in the results received to date are inspiring indeed", said Ian Kiernan. "The environment is an issue which affects every person around the globe regardless of their race, religion or nationality. Fortunately, the enthusiasm with which communities around the world have embraced the Clean Up campaign shows that people are concerned about the environment and are willing to play an active role in its restoration."
Clean Up the World is sponsored by Discovery Channel, the world's largest producer of documentary programming (official Global Media Partner), and KPMG, the international financial services firm. It is supported by Campaq, Qantas and the Australian Government through the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
Clean Up the World is on the World Wide Web at:
For more information, contact
Ms. Elisabeth Guilbaud-Cox
or mr. Robert Bisset Information and Public Affairs
P. O. Box 30552, Nairobi, Kenya
Tel: (254 2) 62 3401 or Tel: (254 2) 62 3084
Fax: (254 2) 62 3927 or Fax: (254 2) 62 3692
UNEP News Release 1997/58