U-recycle Initiative Africa Wins $100,000 Grant for Tackling Plastic Pollution and Empowering Youth

U-recycle Initiative Africa Wins $100,000 Grant for Tackling Plastic Pollution and Empowering Youth

 An extraordinary triumph in the battle against plastic pollution and the empowerment of Nigerian youth has emerged on the global stage. U-recycle Initiative Africa, a dynamic youth-led environmental NGO, stands as the sole Nigerian victor among 23 global winners in the GEF Inclusive Assembly Challenge, a groundbreaking initiative that unfolded in Canada last week.

With Nigeria discharging a staggering 200,000 tons of plastic waste into the ocean annually, and its plastic production poised to escalate to 523,000 tons by 2022, the specter of plastic pollution looms large. Disturbingly, projections indicate that unless decisive actions are taken, Nigeria will lead Africa in mismanaged plastic waste production by 2025. In tandem, the surge in marine plastic pollution from illicit waste disposal and excessive littering exacts a toll on marine ecosystems, exacerbates poverty and hunger in vulnerable coastal communities, jeopardizes the livelihoods of fishermen and their families, and triggers devastating floods due to obstructed drains and canals.

U-recycle Initiative Africa has emerged as a proactive force to address this burgeoning crisis at its source. The organization devises ingenious educational tools and robust capacity-building programs that empower young minds with knowledge, opportunities, and skills, enabling them to combat the plastic pollution dilemma. Armed with accessible technology and inventive strategies, U-recycle Initiative Africa is arming university and secondary school students with practical solutions to curtail daily plastic pollution in Nigeria.

Over the past five years, U-recycle Initiative Africa’s impact has been profound, with more than 50+ projects touching the lives of over 10,000 youths across 20+ states in Nigeria and 11 other African countries. In a pivotal 2022 milestone, the organization secured a grant from the Government of Canada through the Afriplastics Challenge, leading to the launch of their nationwide PlasticWize Fellowship project. The initiative is pioneering the largest campus movement dedicated to combating plastic pollution in Nigeria and Africa, infusing university students with knowledge, tools, and resources to proactively counter marine plastic pollution.

On August 23rd, 2023, U-recycle Initiative Africa clinched global acclaim as one of 23 civil society organizations winning the prestigious Inclusive GEF Assembly Challenge Program by the Global Environment Facility (GEF). This innovative endeavor underlines the GEF’s commitment to amplifying community-driven climate and nature projects, elevating the distinctive contributions of Indigenous Peoples, women, girls, and youth within the GEF partnership.

Founded on the cusp of the 1992 Rio Earth Summit, the GEF has evolved into the principal financier of projects aiming to address the world’s most pressing environmental issues. Collaborating with 185 countries, international institutions, NGOs, and the private sector, the GEF nurtures global environmental initiatives while championing national sustainable development agendas.

The victorious projects were revealed during the GEF Assembly, a quadrennial congregation of 185 countries currently unfolding in Vancouver. Each awardee will receive grants of up to $100,000 and access to networking, training, and knowledge exchange via the GEF, an alliance of funds dedicated to spearheading efforts against biodiversity loss, pollution, and climate change.

Carlos Manuel Rodriguez, GEF CEO and Chairperson, underscored the transformative impact of locally-designed, locally-led solutions on global environmental challenges. He celebrated the resonance of these initiatives as they respond to the localized effects of climate resilience, biodiversity conservation, and more. Furthermore, the Inclusive GEF Assembly Challenge Program mirrors the GEF’s dedication to uplifting voices and innovations historically underrepresented in international environmental funding and policy.

The 23 exceptional victors were selected from nearly 600 applications, and scrutinized by a panel inclusive of the GEF’s CSO Network, Scientific and Technical Advisory Panel, Indigenous Peoples’ Advisory Group, Gender Partnership, and youth representatives affiliated with international environmental conventions.

Oluwaseyi Moejoh, Executive Director of U-recycle Initiative Africa, encapsulated the organization’s vision by redefining youth’s role as transformative agents. With GEF’s support, U-recycle Initiative Africa’s horizons expand exponentially, transforming marginalized individuals into solution-driven leaders.

Esther Morenikeji Emmanuel, U-recycle Initiative Africa’s representative at the GEF Assembly, highlighted the program’s pivotal role in augmenting the organization’s efforts to combat plastic waste in Nigeria. Acknowledging that transformative change often commences locally, she underlined the inherent clarity in addressing localized issues.

Tom Bui, Canada’s representative on the GEF Council, lauded the Inclusive GEF Assembly Challenge Program as an emblematic celebration of environmental trailblazers.

Supported by the GEF’s climate change adaptation funds—the Least Developed Countries Fund (LDCF) and Special Climate Change Fund (SCCF)—the Inclusive GEF Assembly Challenge Program stands as a cornerstone in honoring these environmental heroes. Over two decades, these funds have bridged financing gaps, facilitating targeted funding for the most vulnerable nations.


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