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2021 Plastics Pollution 14-18

2021 Take Action on Plastic Pollution Challenge (14-18 )

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The UNWTO World Tourism Students League, run within the UNWTO Academy creates an innovative environment to empower and motivate youth to get involved with the tourism sector and participate in this world students tourism league. The participants get real-time experience from the sector by creating and presenting innovative solutions for the challenges that the sector is facing nowadays. All challenges are aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

This specific challenge is placing the focus on plastic pollution which is addressed mainly within the framework of SDG 12 on Responsible Consumption and Production but also in other interconnected goals such as SDG 13, SDG 14 and SDG 15, respectively on climate action and the protection of marine and terrestrial ecosystems. You can learn about the SDGs by watching this video.

The COVID-19 pandemic has reminded us how interconnected we are and how much the health of nature has direct impact on our lives, well-being and health. Taking care of nature is therefore key to a prosperous and sustainable future for all. At the same time, hygiene measures undertaken to tackle the pandemic have increased the demand for disposable plastic items with masks and gloves already being found in the natural environment of tourism destinations.

Plastic pollution is one of the major environmental challenges of our time, and tourism has an important role to play in contributing to the solution. On the one hand, much of the plastics used in tourism are made to be thrown away and often cannot be recycled, leading to large amounts of pollution. On the other hand, clean landscapes and coastlines and the possibility to observe wildlife are key elements of tourism destinations and therefore should be protected from plastic pollution.



Develop a “call to action” (format: video pitch) to send a strong message for tourism businesses, policy makers and travelers to take action on plastic pollution as an essential element for the restart of tourism after COVID-19.


  • In what ways can the tourism sector (tourists/ businesses/ policy makers) contribute to tackling plastic pollution?
  • What changes would you like to see in the way plastics are used in tourism once the sector recovers from COVID-19?
  • Is your message compelling and ambitious but at the same time realistic?
  • In what ways does the “call to action” contribute to SDG12 and other interconnected goals?

       Some hints:

  • You find this plastic item unnecessary!
  • You know a way to reuse and upcycle these plastic items!
  • You want to make sure that plastic items will be recycled!
  • You understand that plastic pollution is a problem for nature and also for human health!
  • You want to see changes next time you travel and/or when you have tourists in your cities and towns!


  1. Get your Team together – remember that you can add 1 Team member to work on the solution with you (total 6) and you will have to present the whole Team in your solution
  2. Download the Challenge document (attached in pdf) and read through it carefully (it may contain information that is not on this form here)
  3. Review the resources provided under section 5 of pdf attached.
  4. Research about your destination (or a destination of your choice) and whether there are any activities already ongoing to address plastic pollution, in particular activities from tourism stakeholders.
  5. Discuss about plastic pollution with your colleagues, reflect on the causes of the problem, think about innovative solutions that could be applied by tourism businesses, policy makers and travelers.
  6. Agree on the message you would like to pass on and select your target audience. Is your “call to action” addressed to tourism businesses, to policy makers, to travelers, for two of them, for all?
  7. Agree on the scope of your message. Is your “call to action” addressed to an international audience or is it directed to a specific group of people (e.g. to the tourism organizations in your destination)?
  8. Think of a location where you would like to see the pitch being displayed to influence as many people as possible (e.g. at the airport; in UNWTO website, etc.)
  9. Craft the “call to action” message so that it conveys your thoughts in a convincing manner. Remember to be ambitious in what you ask for, but at the same time realistic, to be able to trigger an impact.
  10. Time the message so that it does not exceed the one minute you have for the video pitch.
  11. Agree on the process to record the video pitch, which members of the team will deliver the message, where you will record it and any edits you would like to make (edits are optional, raw material is also welcome).


During the process to prepare the solution to this challenge UNWTO will organize a mentoring online session with a selected expert with the aim to provide the teams with relevant insights on the topics of the challenge.

NOTE: UNWTO will post the dates, schedule and logistics for the mentoring online sessions in advance in the Students’ League platform, on your personal Dashboard. Kindly note that the attendance of one member of each participating team is mandatory.

Make the most of the mentoring session by UNWTO and take advantage of all the knowledge shared!




Our relationship with plastic needs rethinking. Plastics are versatile materials, but the way we use them is incredibly wasteful. We take oil and gas from the earth to make plastic products that are often designed to be used only once, and then we throw them away. This is what we call a linear take-make-waste model.

If we get to know plastic better, its production, life cycle and proper usage, we can make sure to:

  1. reduce the amount of unnecessary plastics that we use in our daily lives and when we travel;
  2. reuse those plastics that we still need to use, and;
  3. recycle as much as possible to give plastics the many lives they are meant to have instead of becoming waste.

       Did you know that:

  • Plastic was invented in 1907 and has been a key material to the progress of modern society given its resistance, durability, low weight and relatively low cost.
  • Plastic is a wonder of technology; it revolutionized medicine with life-saving devices!
  • Millions of products that we use nowadays are made of plastic or include plastic parts such as for instance, computers, cell phones, water bottles, coffee cups, bags, etc.




  • Your package will be a compressed ZIP file (the zip file name must contain the name of your School).
  • Your ZIP file will contain the following:
    • A “call to action” in the format of a one-minute video pitch. The video needs to be recorded in a horizontal frame at the highest quality possible, at least 1080 p. It can be recorded with a mobile phone. The video file name must contain the name of the School.
    • A Word document  (max 1000 words) where you present the team, describe the process that the team followed to create the “call to action”, what led you to choose that message in particular and which location would you choose to display the video and maximize its impact. The word document file name must contain the name of the School.
  • Please upload your package of submission through your Team access on the UNWTO Students’ League Platform.
  • The Teams will have 6 weeks to answer the Challenge. THE DEADLINE FOR SUBMISSION IS 27 JUNE 23’59 CEST.
  • The language for the submission is English.



Your submission will be evaluated by the Jury according to the following criteria:

  • Innovation and originality 
  • Implementation model and feasibility (e.g. teamwork, preparatory steps and alignment to target audience)
  • Impact, accuracy and effective contribution to solve the challenge/alignment with the Challenge
  • Awareness/Contribution to the SDGs
  • Quality, clarity and consistency of the presentation design  

The judges evaluate these aspects individually from 1 to 10. The score given to the team is the sum of the scores of each jury member given for each aspect. The maximum score for this specific challenge (high school) is 50 points per submission.

Jury Members

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2021 Plastics Pollution 11-13

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