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Estonian-founded World Cleanup Day to be named international UN event

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs' World Cleanup Day 2022 team.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs' World Cleanup Day 2022 team. Source: Ministry of Foreign Affairs

The UN General Assembly in New York on Friday approved a resolution submitted by Estonia officially to add September 20 to the in the UN calendar, as World Cleanup Day.

World Cleanup Day began in Estonia over a decade ago when it was known as "Teeme ära!" ("Let's do it") and since then its cooperative, voluntary and non-hierarchical formula, which may be second nature to Estonians, has been successfully exported to many countries with very different experiences.

The flagship event is September's "World Cleanup Day," which literally runs a 24-hour period, with volunteers from virtually every time zone taking part.

Foreign Minister Margus Tsahkna said: "As we are facing a global waste crisis, the UN's decision to name the World Cleanup Day an international day is significant."

"This contributes to raising awareness about waste management, increasing the number of participants in the cleanup action, thereby leading the world to a cleaner future," the minister went on.


Climate Minister Kristen Michal (Reform) meanwhile said: "World Cleanup Day being named an international UN day represents an enormous recognition to both Estonia and the millions of people across the world who have joined forces in a common goal, for years now."

"With global cooperation, everyone's contribution counts, no matter where people happen to be. By working together, we can create effective change for the cleaner future of the planet. World cleanup changes mindsets," Minister Michal added.

As of now it is the greatest civil initiative worldwide, the foreign ministry says, and more than 71 million people from 195 countries across the world have taken part in the joint cleanup actions.

World Cleanup Day becoming an international day of the UN ensures a place in the calendar of UN member states and brings greater attention to problems related to the waste crisis.

More than 2 billion tonnes of municipal solid waste is added to the world every year, but if the current trend continues, this number is set to double by 2050.

World Cleanup Day thus plays an important role in changing people's mindsets on waste management and contributes to the removal of municipal and other waste from the environment.

In 2023's World Cleanup Day alone, 205 000 tonnes of municipal waste was cleaned up in the course of the joint action.

The UN calendar boasts many such international days, and also weeks, aimed at drawing attention to specific topics or challenges, raising awareness on them and spurring countries and people into action, the foreign ministry says.

The World Cleanup Day resolution was the result of a joint initiative by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Climate and the NGO Let's Do It World, which manages World Cleanup Day.

President Alar Karis and friends presenting World Cleanup Day at the UN. Source: Office of the President of the Republic of Estonia.

President Alar Karis had also lobbied for World Cleanup Day to be entered into the UN's list of official days.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

Source: Ministry of Foreign Affairs

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