Rome based agencies unite to Beat Plastic Pollution

Mon, 16/07/18
This year’s theme for World Environment Day (WED) encouraged all of us to rethink our everyday choices. With the tagline “if you can’t reuse it, refuse it”, in mind, the UN’s Rome based agencies (RBAs), FAO, IFAD and WFP urged staff around the globe to #BeatPlasticPollution, with a joint pledge campaign that encouraged staff to put on record their existing good habits, and commit to at least one new action to reduce plastic waste.
Specifically, staff could choose among eight core pledges such as using reusable shopping bags, saying no to plastic cutlery and straws, buying in bulk or they could make a bespoke pledge of their own. Almost 500 colleagues worldwide took part, with colleagues in 76 countries around the globe, from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe, and Japan to Peru taking part, including almost 250 staff based in Rome.
While a vast majority confirmed that they already use refillable bottles (74%) and reusable food containers (68%), most colleagues pledged to choose cleaning products and cosmetics that are microbead free (67%) and request less packaging when procuring at work (65%). But there were many other valuable pledges, such as:
  • Discontinuing plastic use during meetings and conferences
  • Avoiding pre-packed fruits and vegetables
  • Stop purchasing clothing and furniture made of microfibers
  • Picking up a piece of plastic every time during a walk or a bike ride
  • Encouraging colleagues, family and friends to take steps to reduce plastic pollution.

(click images to download pdf)

While staff were picking waste, pledging, or spreading awareness, members of Senior Management were leading by example. FAO’s Director General, Mr José Graziano Da Silva spoke of the importance of wasting less to relieve pressure natural resources, and FAO’s Climate and Environment Deputy Director Mr Zitouni Oulddada stated that “little gestures - like using a bamboo mug instead of plastic bottles - can make a big difference to beat plastic pollution”. In IFAD, Senior Management demonstrated how to beat plastic through UNEP’s fun and engaging tag-videos. And WFP’s Assistant Executive Director and Chief Financial Officer, Manoj Juneja, wrote to all staff globally, encouraging them to make environmentally conscious choices at work, and in daily life. “World Environment Day affords us an opportunity to celebrate our efforts to provide life-saving work in more environment-friendly ways – and to consider what more we could do,” Mr Juneja said.

In addition to engaging staff, the UN’s Rome Based Agencies are also committed to managing their plastic waste at the institutional level. Significant reductions in bottled water consumption have been achieved since water fountains were introduced some years ago. Moreover, as an immediate action in honor of WED 2018, IFAD announced that it has discontinued the sale of drinks in plastic bottles from its HQ cafeteria and vending machines whilst WFP and FAO also committed to further reduce plastic waste associated with catering services at their HQs.

Other duty stations around the globe also got on board with local events. In Nairobi, UN-Environment, UNON, UN-habitat, and WFP jointly hosted a waste sorting competition at the UN Gigiri compound where a ‘beat plastic pollution’ exhibit showcased products and art created from plastic waste. In Myanmar, FAO colleagues committed to reduce their personal use of single-use plastic pollution and switching to alternatives. In Lima, IFAD staff have actively pledged to reduce their plastic consumption. 

WFP staff in Nairobi pledging to #BeatPlasticPollution
FAO staff at HQ (top) and Myanmar (bottom) committing to reducing their plastic footprint

Categories: Staff Engagement, Waste