plastic pollution

World Environment Day: Ambitious Efforts Needed to Beat Plastic Pollution

The 2023 World Environment Day theme is Beat Plastic Pollution and it calls for global solutions to combat plastic pollution. Since its commercial development in the 1950s, the global production of plastic has been growing exponentially. Its success comes from its remarkable qualities which are, ease of shaping, low cost, and mechanical resistance among others. Approximately 36% of all plastics produced is used in packaging, including single-use plastic products for food and beverage containers. In a report published by WWF, plastic has been identified as the most damaging product polluting the environment with about 85% of all plastic produced ending up in landfills or as unregulated waste.

How do plastics end up in our environment in the first place? For instance, it is estimated that 80% of marine litter comes from land and mainly from household waste, which is poorly recycled, dumped in landfills, or abandoned in nature. Every year, 51 million tonnes of plastics leak into nature, and up to 13 million tonnes spill into the ocean. Hundreds of thousands of marine animals are killed by plastic each year, and microplastics are contaminating our soil, water, and food. Plastic pollution continues to threaten our planet’s biodiversity. The earth is home to millions of species of plants and animals which must be protected but plastic is harming these vital ecosystems.

To address plastic pollution, the global community is proposing measures to control eliminate, reduce, or safely manage, and circulate plastics. Addressing the plastic pollution could involve the following measures;

Address the root causes: An increase in the production of single-use of plastic has been the main cause of plastic pollution globally. Reducing, reusing, and recycling the amount of plastic that is being consumed, especially single-use plastics, could bring us one step closer to a plastic-free society.

Seek alternatives like glass which are recyclable, doesn’t leech toxins into contents, uses less energy to recycle than create, and is long-lasting, strong, and durable.

System shift. Research shows that a shift to a circular economy can reduce the volume of plastics entering the ocean by over 80 percent and it can also reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent. Combining the reduction of problematic and unnecessary plastic usage with a market shift towards plastic circularity could help to tackle the plastic crisis.

Involvement of government, business, and civil society: Governments can introduce laws that ban single-use plastics and implement better waste management systems to help with recycling. Businesses can strive to move towards a circular economy as well as stimulate a reduction in plastic consumption and respond to consumer demand for responsible products and also addressing their environmental footprint. Civil society can raise awareness and take action on plastic pollution.

As we celebrate World Environmental Day this year, lets unite to tackle plastic pollution. An ambitious Global Plastics Treaty can help countries around the globe to transform the way they produce, consume, and dispose of plastics. Together, we can build a more sustainable future and safeguard biodiversity on which all life depends. Together, we can beat plastics pollution.

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International Biodiversity Day 2023: Message by ABCG Director Rubina James

International Day for Biological Diversity is celebrated annually in May to increase understanding and appreciation of the criticality of biodiversity. This year, the theme “From Agreement to Action: Build Back Biodiversity” echoes the need to urgently act. As we mark this important day, we must conserve biodiversity and choose sustainable options in all spheres of life and sectors. On World Biodiversity Day and everyday, let’s apply our collective effort to implement this important Framework of the decade and build back better.


Wanjira Mathai: Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People of 2023

Wanjira emerged as the only Kenyan in Time Magazine’s ‘100 Most Influential People’ list in 2023 for her work in restoring land, people, and livelihoods. She is the Vice President and Regional Director for Africa at the World Resources Institute (WRI), one of ABCG’s seven consortia members. She is also the chairperson of the Wangari Maathai Foundation. Wanjira has spearheaded the historic Green Belt project, pioneered investment in women entrepreneurs in renewable energy, and is leading a project to rehabilitate 100 million hectares of African land.

Dr. Andrew Steer, President and CEO of the Bezos Earth Fund, in his essay to the global publication, describes Wanjira as an individual who fights for justice and the future of the African continent.

 “As a managing director at the World Resources Institute and chief Africa adviser to the Bezos Earth Fund, she is shaping NGO and philanthropic work on the continent, directing attention, research, and funding to help the most climate-vulnerable places and communities,” wrote Dr. Andrew Steer.

Dr. Andrew Steer further added: “How does she do it? Wanjira would say the secret may lie in the African concept of ubuntu. Our shared humanity, working together, is what allows us to change the world.”

Congratulations Wanjira Mathai!

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Global Climate Change Education

According to a UNESCO report, 70% of young people have a very limited awareness of climate change or cannot describe it to someone else, indicating a significant gap in global climate education. The research also found that the younger the respondents, the higher the level of satisfaction of their learning experiences on climate change education, and girls have less confidence in dealing with climate change based on what they learned in school compared to boys. This brings us to the question of, how much are the schools teaching on climate change.

The global decisions around climate education remain to be one of the most underfunded and underestimated tactics in the fight against climate change. Considering climate change is a man-cause issue, we can’t change our future without first reevaluating our own institutions. The school system is a vital place to begin. Students worldwide require a climate change education that helps them understand how to take better action on climate change and recognize the human place within nature. It should be learner-centred, experiential, and reflective ways of learning making climate change education more fun, solutions-based, and action-oriented. Considering a contextualized climate change education through engagement with the local community could as well expand practical knowledge.

And since schools are important learning spaces for climate change, teachers should be well supported to become ready to teach climate change. They should also be confident enough with up-to-date information and have unlimited resources to teach about climate change. The governments have the mandate to take up the next step toward a more climate-friendly future and implement policies that will support global climate education in schools.

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Rewilding The Sahara and The Sahel

On February 8, 2023, ABCG and the African Wildlife Foundation hosted a presentation by SaharaConservation on the efforts to rewild the Sahara and the Sahel. SaharaConservation is the only international nonprofit dedicated to conserve the wildlife, habitats, and other natural resources of the Sahel and the Sahara.

SaharaConservation’s John Watkin, Chief Executive Officer, and Cloé Pourchier, Program Officer shared the organization’s work, their achievements in rewilding the Sahara, next opportunities, and the threats facing biodiversity.

For the past two decades, SaharaConservation has worked to champion the unique wildlife of the world’s greatest desert landscape. They have worked to protect the last remnant populations of Critically Endangered species including the addax and the starkly patterned dama gazelle, and in more recent years pivoted to large-scale rewilding through translocations and reintroductions.

Rewilding in Chad

As a result of the organization’s rewilding efforts, today over 500 scimitar-horned oryx roam free across the grasslands of central Chad’s Réserve de Faune de Ouadi Rimé-Ouadi Achim, after being extinct in the wild for nearly 30 years. Alongside them are addax (also reintroduced in Chad), dama gazelles, North African ostrich, and many thousands of dorcas gazelles.

Securing a healthy population of scimitar-horned oryx is a long-term commitment and needs to be considered carefully as the balance could be quickly overthrown. Fire, land use, desertification, disease, over-grazing, and security, are some of the threats faced by wildlife in Chad.

Achievements in Niger

In Niger, SaharaConservation has successfully spearheaded two translocations of West African giraffes to Gadabeji Biosphere Reserve, in collaboration with the Giraffe Conservation Foundation, and captive breeding of North African ostriches (extinct in the wild in Niger). SaharaConservation and partners are currently assessing the most effective ways to conserve a sub-population of dama gazelle, as well as tackling threats to six species of endangered vultures.

The lack of data, capacity and resources are an obstacle to the protection of vultures and dama. The organization believes that it has a key role to play in accelerating progress in these extraordinary landscapes. They emphasize the need for scaled up, landscape-level approaches, that integrate wildlife conservation with the realities of human development, with a vision for a Sahara that benefits all inhabitants.

Click below to watch the recording

Click here to download the event presentation, Rewilding The Sahara and The Sahel

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Africa in Conservation Biology Platform

The Society for Conservation Biology’s Africa Section, with the support of the Africa Biodiversity Collaborative Group, has recently created the Africa in Conservation Biology database. This database has been developed and curated to help increase the visibility of African conservation practitioners and scientists, and facilitate better connectivity between conservation experts in Africa and the global communities. In addition, the database aims to foster collaborations for the benefit of African conservation.

Who can Participation?

This directory relies solely on public participation. People who have a set of Africa-specific conservation expertise to offer, are invited to enter their details. African nationals and/or affiliates of African institutions are particularly encouraged to list themselves. 

Sign up here


Any feedback that might improve and maximize the potential of the database can be channeled to/via Africa in Conservation Biology


BREATHE Podcast Episode 3: ChangeMakers

This episode of BREATHE speaks to Africa’s largest age group-the youth. We try to find out the role they have in protecting the broken earth that they will inherit from their parents. Do they think they have what it takes to offer solutions where a majority of those who came before them failed? Do the youth of Africa have the strength to carry the burden of restoring the earth to factory settings?

We are joined by three conservation enthusiasts working with the youths in Africa and they explain to us how intergenerational knowledge transfer is the key to saving our planet from perishing and that the youths are the best group to work with to restore biodiversity.

 This is a story of Africa’s youth and their quest to change the world. Listen here to the full episode.

Listen to the past episodes of the podcast

Episode 1: The seed savers. Listen here

Episode 2: Dreams from our fathers. Listen here

Listen to all episodes here

BREATHE is a podcast series looking to have illuminating discussions around conservation by highlighting the work of individuals and organizations across Africa who are changing the planet for the better one day at a time.