Juntos - samen een toekomst tegen afval

Juntos, or “together” in Spanish, is a new UNICEF initiative. The initiative is about working together, a collaboration between two countries and between young and old, to help combat the pressing waste problem in Colombian neighbourhoods.

As a clear exponent of a circular economy, UNICEF is working with Italian 3D-printing company WASP to turn waste into construction material that’s suitable for printing a school. UNICEF will be encouraging young people in Colombian neighbourhoods to collect discarded material and to deposit it with UNICEF, to help teach them awareness.

One of the key issues facing schoolchildren in Colombia is the shortage in classrooms. Either there are none, or the ones they have are occupied beyond capacity, which makes learning difficult and unpleasant. UNICEF’s research shows that it will require another 15,000 classrooms to meet the needs of the children who have no place to study. The first step is to collect recycled waste from polluted areas in and around neighbourhoods to be used to print a large number of new classrooms in the next two years, with the aim of increasing production in the future. What makes this project so unique and important isn’t just helping tackle classroom shortages, but also raising awareness among young people in Colombia. They will learn that if you work hard and take care of what you have, there’s a lot you can achieve – such as in this case new and environmentally responsible education.