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Biggest climate action ever in Ostend kicks off UN & EU Beach Cleanup campaign in Belgium

To raise awareness of the marine litter challenge, the United Nations, European Union and The Smurfs, ambassadors of the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals, are teaming up to clean beaches across the world through the #EUBeachCleanUp campaign and are inviting citizens everywhere to take part.

Marine litter is both a global and a local challenge. Across the world, an estimated eight million tonnes of plastic waste ends up in our oceans every year. Overall, 80 percent of all marine litter comes from land-based sources. In the North Sea, there are almost 4,000 items per square kilometre floating around, and 95 percent of these items are made from plastic.

Smurfs at EU & UN beach cleanup in Ostend, Belgium
Smurfs at EU & UN beach cleanup in Ostend, Belgium

The biggest climate action event ever in Ostend involving 26 schools kickstarted the campaign today in Belgium. The network of schools will reach 8,000 students over the course of a year with classes and workshops on the importance of clean seas and respect for the environment.

“Youth plays a lead role in the fight for our planet, they are catalysts for change. Ambitious climate actions are needed to work towards the Sustainable Development Goals,” said Marian Blondeel, Head of the Benelux & EU desk at the United Nations Regional Information Centre during a press conference in Ostend.

Flemish Minister of Environment Koen Van den Heuvel and Olympic sailor Emma Plasschaert supported the event. “By joining their forces, the youth, the minister, the EU, the UN, The Smurfs and the sports sector, speak with a stronger, unified voice,” Ms Blondeel added.

The event fits within the global #EUBeachCleanUp campaign where 80 EU delegations and UN information centres across the world, as well as the Representations of the European Commission throughout the EU, organise beach cleanup events together with local organisations, schools, etc.

“We must continue to persevere. The energy and commitment of youth to care for the environment by cleaning it and avoiding waste from entering it, are inspirational and reassuring signs of the needed societal change to turn the tide on plastics,” said Veronika Šafránková, Head of the UN Environment Brussels Office.

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