United Nations adds World Cleanup Day to UN International Calendar

Written by
Jim Sharman
December 9, 2023

Let’s Do It World (LDIW), the Estonian-based NGO that initiated and led the annual World Cleanup Day civic action, announces that the United Nations have unanimously proclaimed that 20 September will be declared ‘World Cleanup Day’ on the official UN calendar from 2024.

Mozambique's youthful celebrations of WCD 2023

The UN’s International Calendar of Days and Weeks states that such days are “occasions to educate the general public on issues of concern, to mobilize political will and resources to address global problems, and to celebrate and reinforce achievements of humanity." There are currently 211 events observed in the Calendar, and World Cleanup Day is scheduled to be observed on 20 September each year.

World Cleanup Day is LDIW’s flagship project. Its primary aim is to raise awareness of the global mismanaged waste crisis and act as a catalyst for cross-sector cooperation and education. LDIW targets 5% engagement of the global population, the tipping point needed for lasting societal behavioral change, thus fostering a cooperative mindset society towards a circular economy.

Mr Andre Dzikus, ​Chief of the Urban Basic Services Section at UN-Habitat, spoke at COP28 today during the Estonian Pavilion-hosted panel discussion ‘World Cleanup Day as a Trigger for a Sustainable Change’, observing World Cleanup Day’s ability to effect global, systemic change; “When we have a critical mass of population, when we find that tipping point, a large number of people in a country showing others how to carry out effective waste management, it makes a difference as a social movement.”

Since 2018, World Cleanup Day’s six annual events have engaged almost 91 million people, reaching over 1% of the global population, with participants from 211 countries and territories, which include 95% of the UN’s 193 member states.

LDIW President & Head of Global Network, Heidi Solba, declared, “World Cleanup Day’s addition to the UN Calendar means stronger support from UN countries’ governments, greater visibility and stronger engagement in forthcoming World Cleanup Days.”

According to Solba, “We are witnessing great, impactful actions after each World Cleanup Day. Already we see LDIW and governments collaborating to implement sustainable solutions on the local level. 

World Cleanup Day serves as a powerful catalyst, contributing significantly to this growing trend. The expectation now is that governments and multinational organizations increase their commitment to driving the systemic change towards the circular economy that the human race needs,” she emphasized.

The UN’s decision caps off a record-setting 2023 for the LDIW movement, with 198 countries and territories taking part, which includes 90% of UN member states. This year’s participation of 19.1 M volunteers is the highest annual figure since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, and the second highest in all of World Cleanup Days’ campaigns.

Inclusion in the UN Calendar follows on from July’s receipt of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals Award for Mobilization, thus validating the movement’s many years of dedication to creating a waste-free world.

Highlights from 2023’s World Cleanup Day results include Mozambique’s incredible turnout of 3.25 M volunteers (equal to 10% of its entire population) followed by Indonesia’s 2.61 M, India’s 2.45 M, USA’s 2.35 M and Mexico’s 1.98 M. Additionally, in spite of the continued challenges facing Ukraine, their team still engaged almost 283,000 participants, their second highest ever turnout.

Significantly, World Cleanup Day 2023’s results saw the emergence of three notable increasing global trends; participation from young people and students, from local and national government ministers and officials, and the sheer volume of waste collected.

The increase in youth engagement was especially seen in e.g. France (50%) and Mozambique (67%), with World Cleanup Day’s founding nation, Estonia, reporting 92% of their total as young people.

These trends offer encouragement that the vital message for necessary change is being received, with indications from many countries that educational programs are being added to school curricula, as well as other society-driven initiatives towards a circular economy.

“The trend of increasing waste collection amounts only serves to highlight just how much waste we generate each year, which is a much more worrying trend. Whilst we recognize the importance and relevance of cleaning actions, we are not only a cleanup organization, we are primarily an awareness-raising and solutions-delivering one that addresses part of the triple planetary crisis. Waste and pollution contribute significantly to that crisis,” concluded Solba.

The combined results of World Cleanup Day’s actions over the years further consolidate LDIW’s position as the world’s largest civic action movement in human history, with an ever-growing active network that includes almost every nation.

The addition of World Cleanup Day to the UN Calendar will greatly facilitate the overall movement’s continued journey towards addressing the global mismanaged waste crisis, as we strive collectively for a waste-free world.

UN announces World Cleanup Day's addition to their Calendar of Events!
Share this article
No items found.