Flipflopi’s Sail Flies High at UNEA-4

Davina Ngei from the Flipflopi team reflects on the journey to UNEA4

Flipflopi dropped its anchor and flew its sail high at the just concluded fourth session of the UN Environment Assembly (UNEA-4), inspiring the world to rethink its relationship with single-use plastics, and stirring creativity and enthusiasm around the possible solutions to the critical problem of marine plastic pollution.

The event ran from 11th to 15th March 2019 under the theme ‘Innovative Solutions for Environmental Challenges and Sustainable Consumption and Production’, focusing on addressing three key issues, mainly:

  • Tackling the environmental challenges related to poverty and natural resources management, including sustainable food systems, food security and halting biodiversity loss;

  • Introducing life-cycle approaches to resource efficiency, energy, chemicals and waste management; and

  • Ensuring sustainable business development at a time of rapid technological change.

In the midst of this, brightly coloured Flipflopi drew in hundreds of dignitaries, government officials, private sector representatives, media correspondents and curious citizens, with the team answering questions about the groundbreaking Lamu to Zanzibar expedition, sparking awareness around the danger of plastic pollutants, motivating the necessity of a #PlasticRevolution, and stressing urgent action around single-use plastics and plastic waste management.


During his visit to the dhow, President of Kenya, H.E. Uhuru Kenyatta asserted the spirit of Kenyan innovation, accepting Fliplopi’s recycled plastic wheel from captain Ali Skanda with the message to steer Africa and the world towards a #PlasticRevolution.

Credit:  Finnegan Flint
Credit:  Finnegan Flint

Flipflopi was also honoured to have on board Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations Amina Mohammed, UN Environment Goodwill Ambassador and Chinese superstar Karry Wang, and Kenya Ambassador Prof. Judi Wakhungu and hundreds of others…


The presence of Flipflopi was exceptionally relevant with the Global Partnership on Marine Litter/Clean Seas Tent at UNEA-4, which brought together international agencies, governments, NGOs, academia, the private sector, civil society and individuals to find solutions to the growing problem of marine litter and microplastics in the world’s oceans.

 With the successful expedition from Lamu to Zanzibar, Flipflopi stood tall as a beacon of local solutions to global problems; challenging current consumption and production habits and encouraging innovation to protect the marine ecosystem and the environment at large. For these reasons, Flipflopi was featured at the “Strengthening the Global Momentum to Tackle Plastic Pollution (Side Event)” alongside organisations like Seas4Life, T3, and Mr. Green Africa.

 Our hope is that governments, the private sector, civil society, and individual citizens will be inspired and challenged to lead and support innovative approaches to tackling plastic pollution, supporting the progress achieved through UNEA-4, the Ocean Plastics Charter, and the Sustainable Blue Economy Conference.

“For people to see her now in the flesh, and to know that she sailed 500 km and back untouched, I’m hoping this will inspire other innovations and also that people will be less skeptical in joining us to make a boat twice the size. We want to make a boat that’s capable of sailing to South Africa and beyond.” (Dipesh Pabari, Flipflopi Project Leader)