UNESCO celebrated Recycling Week in Bañados del Este Biosphere Reserve

La Paloma, one of the most beautiful and unique towns in Uruguay, celebrated Recycling Week in the Bañados del Este Biosphere Reserve from 31 May to 6 June 2021, together with UNESCO, with a marathon of artistic and ecological activities, aimed at raising awareness and mobilising the local community, who demonstrated a deep commitment. World Environment Day was also celebrated together.

This experience was the first expression in the country of the global Trash Hack campaign, an initiative promoted by UNESCO with the support of the government of Japan, to reduce waste globally. In Uruguay, its organisation was possible thanks to the articulation of the IberoMAB Youth Network of Uruguay together with the Municipality of La Paloma, the companies Abono de Mar, Ancestral Bioconstrucción, RBA Ambiental, the collective Contra La Pared, the civil association Repapel, the educational programme Tras las Huellas del Venado and the Waste Recycling Centre of La Paloma, where historically the main garbage dump of La Paloma was located, in the Bañados del Este Biosphere Reserve.

During the different days, more than seven workshops, talks and meetings were held with the participation of more than 100 people, including children and young people from School No. 7 in Rocha and the La Paloma High School. They dealt with artistic themes, recycling, ecology and awareness-raising. Technologies, tools and products that promote the development of the Circular Economy in the municipality were presented, encouraging the commitment of the whole community in these issues.

One of the main and most moving actions was to paint a mural in an emblematic place for this community. The @Contralapared collective was in charge of the project, with the participation and planning of the La Paloma Limpia team and the beach management group of the municipality. The ideas to be painted were discussed collectively during the previous days, until it was agreed that the concept of balance and duality would be the two main themes to be illustrated in the following days.

© UNESCO

Guillermo Fernández and the Contra la Pared collective gave shape to the idea they drew on that big wall: the rubbish under the sea which, by dividing the vertical wall of the Recycling Centre building, shows, on the one hand, the world we don’t want to live in and, on the other, the one we want to leave to future generations. A conscious coastal village, living in harmony with its ocean environment.

Lidia Brito, regional director of UNESCO’s Science Office for Latin America and the Caribbean, highlighted the value of the commitment of young people and neighbours in getting involved in the transformation of this place. She highlighted the importance of art and the role it can play alongside Education for Sustainable Development in the transformation of society.

In addition, the UNESCO representative highlighted the potential of the Municipality of La Paloma and the department of Rocha for the development of creative cities that enhance the articulation between Art, Environment and Society.

For his part, the Minister of Environment of Uruguay, Adrián Peña, participated in the meeting through a video where he highlighted the work of UNESCO and the young people of IberoMab in visualising the importance of the circular economy. “Transformations are achieved if we change. This day, above all, should be a day of reflection“, concluded the Minister.

The result of the week was full of experiences and shared moments, but also allowed the creation of a public-private network, active in the creation of transformative ideas. The experience closed on June 6th, in the framework of the celebration of World Environment Day, with the inauguration of the mural in a round where each member of La Paloma Limpia and the Contra La Pared Collective, told how they contribute from their place to the Trash Hack campaign promoted by UNESCO in Bañados del Este, generating an integrated and creative story.

Thus, he closed this week in Uruguay, where, thanks to the Trash Hack Campaign, La Paloma is cleaner and, above all, more beautiful! Through this action, the IberoMAB Youth Network in Uruguay recycles, paints and grows.

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