Enabling Youth Voices for Addressing Plastic Waste and Pollution in Galle City, Sri Lanka – a video competition




In order to tackle the growing challenge of plastic pollution facing the country, the Ministry of Environment (MOE), Sri Lanka formulated its National Action Plan on Plastic Waste Management, 2021-2030 (NAPPWM, 2021-2030) based on circular economy and 3R (Reduce, Reuse and Recycle) principles. Effective implementation of the NAPPWM, however, not only requires the wider adoption of green technology, scientific innovation, regulatory and economic instruments but also social, cultural and behavioral changes. Doing so in turn will involve reevaluating lifestyle choices and consumption patterns, as well as a cumulative shift in individual attitudes and behaviors to realize a society that makes use of fewer plastic products. For this to happen, it is increasingly important for education systems to identify sustainability solutions, including by reorienting and strengthening learning strategies so as to contribute to societal transformation and sustainable development. 
Against this background, a pilot project focusing on environmental education for sustainable development was designed and implemented under an umbrella project entitled “Towards Making Galle City Plastic Waste Free”.  Modelled on the concept that local actions can be guided the changes at national and global scales (think globally – act locally), the project is jointly led by the MOE, Sri Lanka, the Secretariat of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions (BRS Secretariat), the IGES Centre Collaborating with UNEP on Environmental Technologies (IGES-CCET), and local partners at the Human and Environment Link Progressive Organization (HELP-O), financed under the BRS-Norad-1 project supported by the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (Norad) with additional funding provided by the Government of the Netherlands.(For more information about the project activities: WHOLE SCHOOL APPROACH TO LEARN AND EDUCATE PLASTIC POLLUTION IN GALLE CITY, SRI LANKA (iges.or.jp)

School Video Competition

As a part of the environmental education activities, a short video competition was organized with participating schools aimed at demonstrating student-led learning and actions to reduce plastic pollution. Three pilot schools (Vidyaloka College, Sacred Heart Convent, and Jayawardena College – Dangedara) took part in the competition with invitations also open to other schools in Galle City.  
The competition was geared towards concerned students in Galle City looking to make a difference addressing plastic pollution both at school and in their local community. Participating students sought to strengthen their knowledge and awareness on plastic pollution issues, including its impacts to the environment, linkages with biodiversity, climate and the SDGs and opportunities to develop strategies and solutions. Activities focused on identifying collective actions for promoting the 3Rs (reduce, reuse, recycle) across plastic value chains as well as video production techniques for documenting actions on the ground.
As mentioned above, the video competition is part of a larger environmental education project aimed at promoting the environmentally sound management of plastic wastes in Galle City.  Pilot activities included:

  • Guidance sessions / technical training on plastic pollution issues at local and global scales
  • Mentoring on plastic waste research and monitoring techniques, including emerging technology such as artificial intelligence (AI)
  • Technical support on documenting, video editing and strategic communications concerning environmental issues
  • Opportunities for knowledge sharing, peer-learning and networking with other students & schools. 

Award Ceremony

Three winning videos were selected based on recommendations provided by an expert panel comprised of local and international stakeholders.   Videos were scored on the basis of specific criteria, including originality, creativity, clarity of content and technical quality (i.e., audio and visual). In addition, a popular award was also selected from the highest likes received from the public through YouTube. On June 16th, 2023, a video competition award ceremony was held at Dangedara Jayawardhana College in Galle, with the participation of Dr. Anil Jasinghe, the Secretary of the Ministry of Environment, Mr. P.B. Hemantha Jayasinghe, Director General of the Central Environmental Authority (CEA) and representatives from relevant schools, other government agencies, BRS Secretariat, IGES-CCET, civil society organizations and donor agencies. The ceremony brought together 100 participants from different schools who had taken part in the competition. The ceremony also provided a platform to recognize and appreciate the efforts of students in documenting local environmental challenges in Galle City. Selected winners received a trophy and cash award to support the implementation of concrete projects with further technical support provided by project team over the next six months.


The winners of the competition were announced, and the results are as follows: -


First Place and Most Popular Award: Team from Dangedara Jayawardhana College

  • This video documents the harmful impact of marine plastic pollution, illustrated with captured footage of plastic waste accumulating along Galle City’s waterways and coastal areas.
  • The team included: Sithija Dias Sucharitharathne, Kavith Nethsindu Wijesekara, P.W.Saniru Nithish Himashaka, W.G.Tenura Prabhashana and K.G.A.Rashmika Dineth
  • Message from the team: We created a video with our friends and it was collaborative work of our group. First, we gathered information about sea pollution from plastic and then create some video clips. We took video clips using mobile phones and use mobile apps to edit those. Actually, it was a very interesting activity for us and at the same time we did good teamwork to show effects of the sea pollution on the environment. We also hope that it will bring a very good message to society.
  • Link to the video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v541P31Mamo&t=72s

Second Place: Team from Vidyaloka College

  • This video focuses on a young student’s effort to motivate others to collect beachside plastic litter, this inspiring video shows the power of individuals acting on plastic pollution.
  • The team included: W.M.Dovindu Dinhus Jayashantha, P.L. Ovindu Kaveesha, G.M.Tharuk Suhasvin, M.A. Sanuka Nimnada
  • Message from the team: We are proud to be able to get together with friends and exchange each other's ideas and do a mission for the environment by removing and cleaning the plastic bottles from the marine environment and making a good video to release this message to society. This opportunity provides us to think about plastic issue and take our actions
  • Link to the video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tBeVWwJMlwk

Third Place: Team from Dangedara Jayawardhana College

  • This video explores some of the novel and creative ways students from Jayardhana College are upcycling plastic waste into eye-catching art projects, serving as role models for other schools.
  • The team included: V.Shevan Matheesha, M.Hesara Nuwanmi, S.L. Chiranya Jayathri, W.H. Pavani Madhubhashini, H.T.Dilushi Madhubhashini
  • Message from the team: It is a great pleasure to us for awarding a place in the competition. We have created handmade crafts from waste materials and we made video from it. These crafts can use to beautify the school premises and also our day-to-day life. We want to show how waste can be converted into resource without throwing plastic after single used. It was a good experience for us to work with other colleges in the city and thank you all for giving us this chance to our school.
  • Link to the video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0-ctJW8f06E

Judge Panel Members

  • Mrs.T.S.C.Kalansooriya Assistant Education Director, Provincial Education Office, Southern Province
  • Ms. D.V.Dilini Sumali Deputy Municipal Commissioner, Municipal Council, Galle
  • Ms. Sujeewa Fernando Assistant Director, Environment Pollution Control and Chemical Management Division, Ministry of Environment.
  • Ms. Nadeeka Amarasinghe Assistant Director, Sustainable Development Council of Sri Lanka.
  • Mr. Matthew Hengesbaugh Policy Researcher, Integrated Sustainability Centre Institute for Global Environmental Strategies (IGES)
  • Mr.Wasantha Moragoda Actor and Film Director