Nesta Challenges Announces Semi-finalists of Strand Three of the Afri-Plastics Challenge

Nesta Challenges has announced the semi-finalists of Promoting Change, the final strand of the Afri-Plastics Challenge. The Challenge aims to reduce marine plastics in Sub-Saharan African countries by developing and scaling innovative solutions to plastic mismanagement.

The third and final strand of the Afri-Plastics Challenge called Promoting Change and delivered by London-based Nesta Challenges, began accepting applications on 8 December 2021. This marks the last leg of the Challenge after Strand 1: Accelerating Growth and Strand 2: Creating Solutions were launched in July and October 2021, respectively.

The semi-finalists are developing campaigns, schemes, tools and other creative interventions that will change both the behaviour of individuals and communities around plastic waste in Sub-Saharan Africa, as well as contribute to the empowerment of women and girls.

Among the semi-finalists is Senegal’s Haskè Conseil, whose project will organise awareness workshops in working-class districts, schools, secondary schools, colleges, and universities. This will include the parents of the pupils and the mentors of the ‘badienou gokh’ district. Entertaining and creative activities (storytelling, games, stories and theatre-forum) will be facilitated by cultural, social, and environmental associations (including the neighbourhood mentors).

Also making it to the semi-finalists’ list is an organisation from South Africa known as Soapbox South Africa, whose project Captain Fanplastic, uses storytelling as the core of the education about plastic. The programme is designed for scalability in that the organisation is able to offer an opportunity to use girls and women as leaders, facilitators and trainers of the much needed education in the communities. The programme curriculum also aligns and contributes to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. Such as SDGs 4- Quality Education or 12- Responsible Production & Consumption through self-published books, modules and songs.

Thirty semi-finalists for Strand 3 of the Afri-Plastics Challenge will receive capacity-building support to further develop their engagement strategies, alongside a grant of £5,000 each. Fifteen finalists will then be selected in June 2022 to implement their ideas with support from additional capacity-building support and a grant of £50 000. Finally, three winners in March 2023 will receive £250,000 each.

Adwoa Coleman, Afri-Plastics Challenge judge and Ghana Country Manager for Dow said: “Africa’s entrepreneurs and innovators are at the forefront of creating the solutions needed to scale plastics recycling and reduce the volumes of plastics entering the value chain – but their efforts will be for nothing without a groundswell of support from communities to make the circular economy for plastics a well-functioning reality. The semi-finalists announced today are using diverse approaches to engage communities – and particularly women and girls who are so integral to the plastic ecosystem in Africa – to drive the change needed to overcome the unfolding tragedy of unbridled plastic pollution on the continent.”

The challenge could not have come at a better time. At the recently concluded United Nations Environment Programme 5.2, the world’s ministers for the environment agreed to establish an Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee with the mandate to forge an international legally binding agreement to end plastic pollution. This legally binding global agreement on plastic pollution was the most significant environmental multilateral deal since the Paris Accord. The resolution calls for a treaty which promotes sustainable alternatives to plastics and fosters international collaboration on access to technology, capacity building and scientific and technical cooperation. Efforts made by a number of governments across Sub-Saharan Africa have given these countries a headstart in combating plastic waste.

The projects presented by the semi-finalists have provided an opportunity to promote behavior change and save oceans from pollution, as researchers of a study published in the Journal Science in 2020 estimated that plastics entering the ocean could triple to nearly 29 million metric tonnes by 2040 if current production and consumption remains unchecked.

To find out more about the 30 Promoting Change semi-finalists and to follow their progress, visit afri-plastics.challenges.org.

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