The Clean Up the World campaign started as the pet project of Australian yachtsman Ian Kiernan who was appalled by the amount of marine litter he encountered while sailing and began as a series of small-scale beach clearing projects.

But since its launch in 1989 it has rapidly grown and this September some 500 organisations ranging from community groups and schools to national initiatives and Government departments will see environment-enhancing work take place in 119 countries.

Many of the projects will include waste clearance projects similar to those that kick-started the campaign as teams of volunteers clean up streets, waterways, parks and beaches but there will also be broader environmental initiatives such as tree planting, energy conservation, water recycling and education programmes.

The vast majority of projects will be undertaken in developing countries.

“Over 100 countries have joined Clean Up the World since the first campaign, but an extremely enthusiastic response has been received from developing countries in Africa, Asia Pacific and Latin America, including some of the world’s most troubled nations,” said Dr Kiernan.

“It certainly looks like economic hardship and civil strife in some countries do not equate with lack of community and environmental action, and we applaud groups working in most difficult conditions,” he added.

This year, Africa has the highest participation in both the number of countries and organisations that have joined the campaign so far, with the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ghana, and Nigeria leading the way.

Clean Up the World has also registered record participation in this year’s campaign by groups from Argentina, India, Mexico, the Philippines, and Spain.

“Hundreds of communities across the developing world see the connection between the health of their environment and their own wellbeing,” said Dr Kiernan.

“By joining Clean Up the World, they become agents of change for their community instead of bystanders.”

Held in conjunction with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), Clean Up the World is a global community-led environmental campaign that mobilises over 30 million volunteers in over 100 countries annually to “clean up, fix up and conserve the environment.”

The campaign’s flagship event is Clean Up the World Weekend, held in September each year.

Groups, organisations, businesses and communities around the globe are encouraged to register with Clean Up the World by visiting

Members receive information and materials to assist with the promotion and implementation of environmental activities.

Sam Bond

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