Let's Do It World
|Founders||Rainer Nõlvak, Eva Truuverk, Ahti Heinla, Anneli Ohrvil, Tiina Urm|
|Founded at||Tallinn, Estonia|
|official NGO members in 54 countries, official presence in 150 countries|
|Anna Gril, Mauro Borsella, Bill Willoughby, Pal Martensson, Sovann Nou, Stephan Senghor, Heidi Solba|
|Board of Directors|
Let's Do It World (aka LDIW) is a global civic movement, developed around the idea of mobilising large numbers of people for one-day nation-wide cleanups to remove illegally dumped waste. Since its inception in 2007, the movement has spread to over 180 countries and today organises a wide variety of projects aimed at combating the global solid waste problem, the problem of marine debris, deforestation, social desintegration and more. Since 2018, the flagship project of LDIW network is World Cleanup Day (WCD), taking place on the 3rd Saturday in September annually in nearly every country in the World. The last World Cleanup Day was 19 September 2020.
Let's Do It World was pioneered in Estonia on 4 May 2008 with their nation-wide cleanup called Let's do it! (in Estonian: "Teeme Ära!") engaging 50000 people or 4% of their population, cleaning up 10000 tons of waste in one day. Over a decade, the movement has spread to practically all countries of the world and mobilised millions of people to participate in cleanups. From the beginning in 2007, until 2020 the movement has spread from Estonia to over 180 countries. On 21 September 2019, the campaign saw the highest participation thus far, engaging more than 21 million volunteers.
Purpose of Let's Do It World
Global problems related to waste are immense and tackling them goes beyond governments and institutions. Massive global citizens' engagement is what World Cleanup Day aims for and the slogan Let's do it! summarises the urgency, self-initiative and cooperation necessary to address the problem. Thereby the campaign often addresses other social and environmental problems. As organisers say on their official website: "Let’s Do It World has never been purely about cleaning up trash. Our vision is a clean and healthy waste free planet. We tackle the environmental challenges related to the mismanaged solid waste crisis by mobilizing millions of positive-minded people into coordinated local and global actions." And also: "World Cleanup Day harnesses the power of people around the world to achieve incredible things by joining together. Its beauty lies in cooperation and collaboration: building bridges between disparate communities, and including all levels of society – from citizens to business, to government."
History of Let's Do It World
The movement started at an informal meeting of friends eager to do something to solve the problem of illegal waste dumping in Estonian forests and littering in towns. As they were pondering how to organise a nation wide cleanup, one of them, Rainer Nölvak, said: "Yes, we'll clean Estonia, but we'll do it in one day!" This triggered a series of meetings and leading to the formation of a team that held the campaign and finally, on 4 May 2008 the cleanup took place. The story spread to other countries and the movement rapidly gained momentum, reaching 90 countries by 2012 and 180 countries by 2018. The core team in Estonia with varying degrees of cooperation of colleagues from other countries had navigated the development of the movement over the years, supporting national teams with annual conferences, courses, academies, promo materials, graphic design, know-how, training etc. Since 2013, the connection with Zero Waste movement grew and in the later years with some other movements too, such as Earth Day, The Ocean Cleanup etc.
Scope of Let's Do It World
Let's Do It World is a global movement, active in over 150 countries. In many of those countries, it works in partnership and with an involvement of hundreds of organisations (both government and non-government), institutes, schools, universities, kindergartens etc. The Let's Do It Foundation has built the global network with a focus on cleanups, subsequently leading to many other socially and environmentally beneficial campaigns. For the most time the movement has been spreading by a combination of the targeted efforts of the staff and volunteers from Let's Do It Foundation in Estonia and mostly scattered efforts by individuals and organisations around the world. In some countries, mapping waste points and creating national directories of illegal dumpsites has been one of the central actions. Various platforms were used for mapping trash points, including Trash Out, Literatti, Geopedia and others.
Let's Do It World is a highly inclusive movement and it is easy to qualify for membership. While national coordinators are encouraged to organise large cleanups to engage 5% of their country's population, emulating the model of the most successful countries, small local cleanups are just as welcome under the banner of Let's Do It World. From 2018 on, a more global structure has developed with membership and a democratic process held by the global network itself, establishing its own decision making structures. The team in Estonia has divided into two parts, one supporting the global network of cleanups and other related actions as Let's Do It World NGO, with the flagship project of World Cleanup Day. The second organisation is Let's Do It Foundation, focusing on the newly formed Keep It Clean Plan, based on the principles of the circular economy, and embedding Zero Waste practices.
The identity of Let's do it World and World Cleanup Day
In the beginning, since 2008 campaigns in some countries used the original graphic identity of Let's Do It World and the same name, either in English or translated to their own languages, while others have chosen different names and graphic identities and the extent of affiliation with the Estonian Let's do it Foundation.
Since 2018 a new graphic design was adopted and the global campaign adopted a new name: World Cleanup Day.
Until 2018 the movement didn't have an official global franchise or membership structure, so national organisers were free to decide how to liaise with the initiators from Estonia. The intention was to keep the project open-source, inclusive and to give leaders flexibility to adapt to local specifics. As a result, there was a diversity of adaptations of the graphic identity and of the execution of national campaigns around the same core concept of mobilising as many people as possible to pick waste on one day. Other types of campaigns (planting trees, community activities, social events etc.) took place within initiatives on local, regional and national level, never internationally. In most countries the campaigns were grassroots initiatives, coordinated bottom-up by teams of volunteers. Young urban people concerned about the environment are frequently at the core of the campaign. Participants are typically volunteers, with coordination from non-governmental organisations who assist in awareness-raising, logistics, and fundraising. In some countries, the initiatives have later grown into stable organisations with substantial budgets and employees, repeating the nation-wide cleanup annually and developing various other projects, while in other countries the initiatives fluctuated, sometimes organising the cleanup only once, often on a much smaller scale -- regionally or locally. Collaboration with other organisations and businesses varied greatly from country to country.
Initiatives in numbers
The first attempt to organise a global cleanup took place in 2012 and engaged 96 countries. The number of participants given in [Wikipedia article] about the cleanup is just "millions".
Let's Do It World by countries
The majority of European countries have engaged with Let's Do It World since 2008. Organisers in most countries opted to name their NGO the same as Estonians did, putting Let's Do It in front of the name of their country either in English or in their own language (for example, Let's Do It Greece). In some countries, however, organisers named their organisations and campaigns differently:
As the initiative began in Estonia, it is not surprising that the LDIW movement spread in Europe first and with systemic efforts spread to other continents. LDIW had impact in more than 180 countries by 2020.
Some key milestones
- 2007: an informal meeting of initiators of the Estonian cleanup where the idea of Let's Do It World was born
- 4 May 2008: the first cleanup in Estonia under the name of Let's do it!
- 17 February 2009: a 5-minute video about the Estonian cleanup was published on Youtube. This video has been widely used by coordinators in other countries to mobilise nation-wide support and engagement.
- Spring 2009: The first countries to emulate the Estonian model were two neighbouring countries, Latvia and Lithuania, with 250,000 participants.
- January 2010: the first World Cleanup conference was held in Tallinn, connecting the first teams from 15 countries.
- 17 April 2010: the Slovenian cleanup, engaging 13.5% of the population, has set a high bar in participation to future organisers.
- April 2011: Let's clean the Balkan conference in Slovenia introduced representatives from almost all the countries of the SE of Europe, later leading to the majority of these countries organising successful nation-wide cleanups.
- January 2012: the 2nd World Cleanup conference was held in Tallinn, bringing together 90 participants from more than 30 countries.
- March to September 2012: The first version of Let's do it! World Cleanup campaign had motivated cleanups in 96 countries.
- November 2012: at a LDI conference in Nepal there were participants from about 10 countries of SE Asia; at the same time a LDI conference was held in Kiev, Ukraine.
- January 2013: the 3rd Clean World Conference took place in Tallinn.
- February 2014: the 4th Clean World Conference took place in Prishtina, Kosovo. This was the first LDIW global event outside Estonia, and the first international conference of such sort in newly independent Kosovo.
- February 2015: the 5th Clean World Conference was held in Riga, Latvia.
- January 2016: the 6th Clean World Conference was held in Bursa, Turkey.
- January 2017: the 7th Clean World Conference was held in Tallinn, Estonia.
- January 2018: the 8th Clean World Conference was held in Tallinn, Estonia.
- 22 September 2018: the new version of the World Cleanup Day took place with 18 million participants in more than 157 countries and regions. The success of the event was fostered by the so-called Leaders Academies taking place on all continents.
- January 2019: the 9th Clean World Conference was held in Tallinn, Estonia. The results of World Cleanup Day were celebrated and a new global organisational structure set up.
- 15 September 2019: there were 21 million participants in 180 countries.
- January 2020: Let's Do It World Annual Conference was held in Tallinn, Estonia.
- 19 September 2020: despite COVID-19 situation, 11 million participants joined cleanups in 165 countries of the world.
Links to key examples
Some of the most successful examples were:
- Slovenian cleanup in 2010 engaging 270,000 participants, 13.5% of the population of the country
- Indonesian cleanup in 2019 engaging 9.5 million participants
- Mexico cleanup in 2020 engaging 615,000 participants
- Ethiopian cleanup (ran by UN Habitat) in 2020 engaging 862,000 participants
Numbers of people involved, and indirect beneficiaries
It is hard to list hundreds of thousands of organisations, companies, media, institutes, universities, schools, kindergartens etc. involved in the coordination or partnering with Let's Do It World over the period from 2008 until now. Central NGOs, which coordinate the work in each country, list individuals and organisations involved, and even on the level of a single country, there can be a couple of thousand legal entities involved and hundreds of thousands of individuals.
Impacts of Let's Do It World
The largest Let's Do It national cleanup campaigns have literally mobilised their entire society for one day. In many cases, the campaign had long-lasting impacts, leading to Zero Waste iniatives, anti-incineration campaigns, tree-planting, youth empowerment, governments raising their ambitions and implementing stricter environmental laws, lowering municipal waste generation, improving separate waste collection, the level of recycling etc.
The most direct ecological impact is the removal of thousands of tons of illegally dumped waste and litter, collecting them at a more appropriate location under better-controled conditions. In most cases, that's a small percentage of the total amount of mismanaged municipal waste, but nevertheless, many illegal dumpsites that are cleaned during the World Cleanup Day campaign would otherwise pose a threat to drinking water, soil, air and wild animals.
In the countries where a strategic follow up has been done after the campaign, substantial changes in environmental impacts can be noted. In Slovenia, for example, the rate of separate collection of municipal waste went from just above 20% until 2009 to 60% in 2014, and 71% in 2020.
Impacts in other dimensions
Research on Let's Do It World
- 2017: European Citizens' Prize
- 2018: The UNESCO-Japan Prize on Education for Sustainable Development
- Let's do it! World Official Website
- Official Youtube Channel
- Video about Let's Do It! Estonia
- Video about the global action - Let's Do It! World
- "Teeme ära 2008". Retrieved 2020-05-16.
- "World Cleanup Day official website". Retrieved 2020-05-16.
- "Let's Do It World website". Retrieved 2020-05-16.
- "Video about the first Let's Do It! cleanup in Estonia". Retrieved 2020-05-16.
- "Let's clean the Balkans in one day conference". Retrieved 2020-05-16.
- Let's clean Slovenia in one day! 2010 Final Report