Unesco Green Citizens
Project begin: 01/02/2020

Based in Estonia, a group of citizens has created an international community of change agents who aim to change behaviours and help create sustainable solutions in local communities !

While the waste problem is a global one, solutions to it are very much local. What’s more, the ‘Keep It Clean’ concept foresees a specific role for different stakeholders in each society. Their approach enables one to embrace the unique characteristics of any community while applying general principles of zero waste, circular economy and non-formal education techniques.

This training program concept has been developed for the following reason – to be used as an implementation tool for making a very own Keep It Clean Plan. Its main aims are:

– Give participants basic skills that will help them to start sustainable waste management initiatives within their communities (municipality or district level).

– Create zero waste leaders and ambassadors.

– Empower participants to be ambassadors in their own communities and inspire them to pass on the skills and knowledge acquired from the training they receive.

Leading organisation: Let's Do It Foundation
Covered Countries: Greece
Theme: Biodiversity, Education for Sustainable Development
Sub-themes: Natural resource management, Participatory science/citizen science, Sustainable lifestyles, Waste management
Tag: #Youth
Selection: 2020
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Initial Problem

Learning about what a ‘circular economy’ is, does not necessarily help to know HOW to apply its principles in action. While teaching the youth of today about sustainability, from an early age, is important, it is just as important to provide decision-makers and community leaders today the knowledge of how to support change for a sustainable future. Keep It clean recognizes the need for creating more formats for adult education in ESD.

The positive impacts that the project has made:

Keep It Clean allowed the creation of a strong international community of change-makers who exchange best practices and learnings from their initiatives.

They also created and improved new community campaigns to change behavior and help design sustainable solutions. Their community enhancement projects are using waste management as a means of achieving their goals, improving livelihoods and environmental conditions. 

What’s more, the ‘Keep It Clean’ concept foresees a specific role for different stakeholders in the society.  Their approach enables to embrace the unique characteristics of any community while applying general principles of zero waste, circular economy and non-formal education techniques.

The impacted areas and population:

Keep It Clean empowers and enables organizations and people so they can thrive. More specifically, local decision-makers such as mayors are the first beneficiaries of Keep It Clean’s projects. 

The populations and areas of Greece and El Salvador have both been impacted by the Keep It Clean project and its training that provides a broad knowledge of sustainable development as well as waste and resource management.

After participating in Keep It Clean trainings, everyone can become an ambassador in their own local community; to share the knowledge they have gained and create their own initiatives. 

The obstacles and challenges

Keep It Clean wanted to prove that resource efficiency and waste-free communities were possible, however, they first failed because the methods used and their goals were too ambitious relative to the situation on the ground and the existing mentalities within the countries they implemented the project.

It doesn’t mean that their end goal – waste-free communities that preserve and regenerate – is impossible to achieve, it just means that they can’t apply their concept of cleaning up communities where the people there already have a fixed mindset. They need more people, coming from different sectors and fields. Keep it Clean needs new skills, any skills that they can use to achieve the next milestone and turn it into a measurable win so that they recover the energy of their first successful event (a cleaning event – a milestone with measurable success of tons of waste cleaned up but it was not THE solution), provided by the collective gratification of the people in the areas they helped clean up.

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