On 1 July 2020, Waves of Change, a joint project by Håll Sverige Rent (Keep Sweden Tidy) and Hand in Hand was started. The project combines fighting poverty with environmental stewardship. 4,000 micro-businesses in the area of reuse and recycling will be founded in India and Kenya. These will contribute to clearing 100,000 tonnes of plastic from tips, beaches, and coastal areas. The project is being carried out thanks to financing from the Swedish Postcode Lottery.
All of the world’s oceans are interconnected; therefore, we are all also connected. We have a shared dependency on the oceans; they are our origins, our lungs, our food, and our future. And now the oceans need our help. A wave of change is needed. The Waves of Change project is working across the oceans – from Kenya’s and India’s beaches to Sweden. We are working together with fishermen, farmers, and other persons residing along the coasts – to address an issue that concerns all of us on our blue planet.
Through a unique method, we are addressing two of our era’s greatest challenges at the same time – litter in the oceans and in coastal areas, as well as poverty and vulnerability among the millions of people living there. Through Waves of Change, Keep Sweden tidy and Hand in Hand are using their experience from Kenya and India to reach a new level and sense of urgency. The project will produce results both in the long and short term – locally, in Sweden, and across the world’s oceans.
The Indian Ocean makes up 15% of the Earth’s surface and many countries share its coastlines. The oceans are also one of the world’s largest tips or dumping grounds for plastic. According to some estimates, around 15 million tonnes of plastic are dumped here every year. Research has shown that, by 2050, there will be more plastic than fish in the oceans and that 99% of all sea birds will have consumed some plastic.
Less than one-fifth of the plastic produced in the world is recycled. Plastic contributes directly to accelerating the climate crisis, by increasing greenhouse gas emissions, and causing mass-extinction of species, gigantic islands of plastic in the oceans, and creating health problems for the hundreds of millions of persons living in coastal regions. Sanitation workers often have a low social status and live in a vulnerable position in the lowest levels of society.
Both India and Kenya have coastlines along the Indian Ocean. There are many differences between the two countries, but they also share some challenges: a major problem with littering along the coast and in the oceans, and widespread poverty, and high unemployment levels. In Waves of Change, we are mobilising efforts on both sides of the ocean to find solutions. The project will both contribute to clearing the coasts and the ocean from litter and plastic and also create jobs and employment in the growing recycling industry.
Keep Sweden Tidy and Hand in Hand have together built a strong programme model in the partner countries, developing sustainable, long-term methods for recycling. Keep Sweden Tidy wants to take this co-operation to the next level through this project. The organisation’s expertise in co-ordinating lobby work and civil society action can bring Hand in Hand’s work to decision-makers’ attention and put it on the agendas of grassroots organisations.
We have founded a unique co-operation across the oceans and among continents. Applying the Quintuple Helix Model stimulates broad participation. The model contributes to dialogue and development within five sectors of society: academic institutions, businesses, government agencies, civil society, and the environmental sector. We use our global network by combining the experiences and methods successfully developed in Kenya and India to maximise impact. Keep Sweden Tidy integrates lessons learned from Waves of Change in their work with Swedish municipalities and schools.
The project has a practical focus – litter is transformed into something of value by innovative entrepreneurs, thus creating livelihoods and improving both the environment and health. The project contributes towards UN SDG 1 – No Poverty; 3 – Good Health and Well-Being; 5 – Gender Equality; 12 – Responsible Consumption and Production; 13 – Climate Action; 14 – Life below Water; and 17 – Partnership for the Goals.