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Today, as the world unites to celebrate International Mother Earth Day, under the theme “Plastics vs Planet” we reflect on the vital role of the environment in sustaining life. The Earth’s environment encompasses the air we breathe, the water we drink, the food we eat, and the habitats that sustain numerous species, including humans. It is the foundation of life itself, providing vital resources and ecosystem services that support biodiversity, regulate climate, and maintain a balanced ecosystem.

Despite the numerous benefits that the environment offers, human activities pose a significant threat to its sustainability in various ways. The planet’s ecological balance is in a precarious state as it attempts to harmonize a supporting ecosystem with the expanding industrial and technological advancements. Unfortunately, human actions have often prioritized unchecked development over environmental conservation, leading to the overexploitation of natural resources and subsequent environmental degradation. The consequences are evident, with increasing global temperatures, accelerated species extinction rates, water pollution, rampant deforestation, a rising world population, and the deterioration of the ozone layer due to excessive industrialization (Perry, 2022).

The pervasive presence of single-use plastics in our daily lives has led to a widespread crisis that demands immediate attention and action. From microplastics contaminating our water sources to large plastic debris smothering our natural habitats, the consequences of our plastic addiction are alarmingly far-reaching. To safeguard the well-being of our planet and future generations, we must collectively confront this menace with a sense of urgency, committing to reduce, reuse, and recycle our way to a cleaner and healthier world.

In response to the urgent challenges presented by the escalating triple-planetary crisis of climate change, nature loss, and pollution, international efforts have gained momentum. Collaborative initiatives such as the Paris Agreement on climate change, the adoption of the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework, and the resolution to develop an international legally binding instrument on plastic pollution represent significant strides towards addressing these interrelated environmental issues. This underscores the importance of coordinated multilateral actions to effectively tackle these pressing challenges. By engaging local communities and fostering international cooperation, substantial progress can be made in protecting essential ecosystems and advancing a more sustainable future for all.

In the East African region, all Eastern African countries have crafted their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), with a majority having updated versions. Furthermore, they have formulated and implemented national adaptation plans and sectoral policies to combat climate change within their borders. Leading by example, countries like Rwanda, Kenya, Tanzania, and most recently Somalia have taken proactive measures by prohibiting the use of single-use plastics. These commendable efforts should be further reinforced by providing support to countries in enforcing the bans and encouraging those who have not yet initiated the process to take similar actions.

On the conservation front, the Kenyan government established the Maasai Mara Wildlife Conservancies Association in 2005, introducing a community-based conservation initiative that empowers local Maasai communities to manage and benefit from wildlife conservation efforts. This initiative marks significant progress in mitigating human-wildlife conflicts (The Maasai Mara Wildlife Conservancies Association, n.d.). President William Ruto of Kenya launched a tree-planting campaign in 2023 with a goal of planting 15 billion trees within a decade, demonstrating a strong commitment to environmental conservation (Chelangat, 2023). Additionally, Umuganda, a monthly community clean-up initiative in Rwanda that brings together Rwandese citizens on the last Saturday of every month, exemplifies collective action in environmental stewardship (All about Rwanda, n.d.).

The IGAD Climate Prediction and Application Centre (ICPAC) is at the forefront of addressing the climate change crisis in a region deeply affected by climate change and extreme weather. It is actively creating resilience and implementing environmental conservation initiatives. Through the Intra-ACP Climate Services and Related Application programme, in collaboration with the county government of Machakos, a tree planting initiative was launched at Mumbuni primary school in February 2023. In this initiative, 100,000 seedlings were distributed among schools with the aim of not only restoring degraded landscapes but also of fostering a culture of environmental conservation and management from an early age. Each primary school pupil in the county is allocated a seedling to plant and is responsible for monitoring its growth.

It is important to recognize that the power to protect the environment lies in the hands of individuals, communities, and societies. Schools have a crucial role to play in educating, nurturing, and encouraging conservation efforts. By integrating environmental subjects into the curriculum and establishing environmental clubs, students can learn about the importance of protecting the environment and become advocates for change in their communities. Appreciating the work done by institutions and individuals can significantly contribute to environmental conservation efforts. Highlighting the achievements of others and rewarding them can inspire further action that benefits both individuals and the environment.

As we commemorate this significant day, it is imperative that we take immediate action to tackle pressing issues such as plastic pollution, biodiversity loss, and climate change. These interconnected environmental challenges threaten ecosystems, biodiversity, and human health, highlighting the urgent need for collective action to safeguard our planet and secure a sustainable future for all. Let us join forces to make a difference, protect our shared home, and create a healthier world for future generations.


Perry, E. (2022, April 19). Retrieved from BetterUp:

The Maasai Mara Wildlife Conservancies Association. (n.d.). Retrieved from Wildlife conservancies :

All about Rwanda. (n.d.). Umuganda. Retrieved from All about Rwanda:

Chelangat, M. (2023, November 13). Road to 15 billion trees: President Ruto leads nation in tree planting drive. Retrieved from Nation:


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