How the Closure of One Island Made a Whole Country Start Working Towards a Greener Future

By Conny Jeppson, PADI Regional Manager Philippines

In April this year, the government of the Philippines decided that they were closing one of their most visited islands, Boracay, for 6 months. The decision was made to allow time for infrastructure to improve and most importantly, to develop a new and more efficient waste water treatment.

Boracay-Beach-White Sand- Philippines
 

With more than 2 million visitors a year, many never thought the closure would actually be possible. Coincidentally, when the closure was enforced many of the world’s eyes turned to the Philippines, some in astonishment, but many looking to the Philippines to be an Eco-leader and example for the future. Even though the financial impact for most was more than could be endured, nearly all operators on the island stood behind the rehabilitation. Operators believed that the action taken would preserve the island and ensure it remained a paradise for future generations to come.

What’s even more interesting is the ripple effect that the closure has had on the community across the country and in some ways, its neighbouring countries. Suddenly and in most parts of the country, local businesses, municipalities and individuals quickly started to also improve the overall condition of their homes and businesses. A good example of this is Malapascua Island where most PADI Dive Centres and Resorts have joined forces by starting to sell refillable aluminium water bottles branded with their own logo. Not only is this a great initiative, but customers can also present their water bottle in affiliated stores and in return, can refill their water bottles for free.

Many resorts and dive centres on the island have also switched to better alternatives when it comes to the use of plastic. Plastic straws are now hard to find as reusable items and non-plastic solutions have become readily available to the community. Evolution, a PADI 5 star resort in Malapascua, have taken this initiative even further with one of their owners, Matt Reed. They have invested in a plastic recycling machine from planet positive products. Matt and the Evolution team have not only envisioned this machine to be used for their dive resort, but they also hope that it can be used for bigger parts of the island.

Malapascua Island- Phillippines- Beach- Ocean

El Nido in Palawan Island is another fantastic example of a community being in the forefront to protect the environment. The local government have banned the use of single use plastic such as plastic bags and plastic straws.  The local government have also worked hard to reclaim the local beach by introducing local laws to benefit both the local community and tourists alike.

El Nido- Palawan-Philippines-Beach

The above examples are only a handful of how the Philippines community are joining forces to improve our overall environment. There are many more PADI Dive Centres and Resorts, PADI Instructors and PADI Divemasters working hard to protect, educate and promote a more environmental way of living.

PADI Regional Managers get to experience some great environmental initiatives all around their region. If you are looking to make environmental improvements at your PADI Dive Centre or Resort, contact your PADI Regional Manager to discuss ideas, implementation and support.

A Force for Good: the Reachers and Teachers

The planet’s environmental health is the biggest challenge humanity has ever faced. Looking at the innovation, initiatives and social ground swell happening on all fronts, we know we can rise to the challenge through dedication, focus, tenacity and importantly, by working on hearts and minds as well as preservation and restoration. Involving kids – the coming generations who will inherit the Earth – is crucial for our future. Global conservation is making great strides, but a sustainable future demand that it becomes an ongoing mindset that expands and gets passed on.

And, it’s happening, thanks to divers who reach and teach youngsters to share a passion that goes beyond diving to protecting and restoring the underwater world. In Tahiti, the Moorea Coral Gardeners – a growing team of youngsters (and some not-so-youngsters) – freedives to replant coral to reverse damage to Moorea, Tahiti’s incredible reefs (still awesome, by the way). But, they go further, educating local youth about why all the world’s coral reefs are environmentally and economically important, and need preservation. The Gardeners started as a local youth coral restoration project and now, through social media, they touch lives everywhere with an age-spanning team of international professional athletes, actors, and media stars.

The U.S.-based Kids Sea Camp, founded by PADI Instructor Margo Peyton, involves youngsters starting at age 4 (snorkeling) at some of diving’s best and most popular south Pacific and Caribbean destinations. In Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, at Kids Scuba Syed Abd Rahman is on a parallel mission, bringing new talent into diving’s ranks by uniting ocean and coral conservation with diver training. Both groups introduce youth to wonderous, eye-opening underwater adventures while embracing diving’s higher purpose as the underwater world’s ambassadors and protectors. Still other divers reach kids wherever they are; in Koh Tao, Guy Corsellis talks with kids at the Koh Tao International Primary School about marine life, how it behaves, why it’s important and how to be kind to the environment.

There are many examples like these, and there need to be more because through involvement, engagement and example, young divers learn that the ocean and coral reefs are not just awesome, but threatened. They learn why and, most importantly, what we can all do about it – and we’re talking about more than coral. Showing our youth the underwater world and coral reefs is the best place to start in building a global culture that lives harmoniously with the global environment. People who experience coral reefs come to care about them quickly – and because these are the world’s environmental barometers, it’s often where we see subtle changes first. People focused in preserving this fragile environment will take on the bigger environmental issues because almost all of them ultimately affect the coral reefs. In other words, to preserve and restore the coral, we really have to preserve and restore the world environment.

Let’s applaud the reachers and teachers who motivate young people to embrace the underwater world, but I challenge all of us to also be one of them. Share your diving experiences with the kids in your life – at schools, youth centers, clubs, neighborhood, home — anywhere you cross paths. Explain why the oceans, reefs and the creatures living there are special and important, and how choices like reusing and recycling make a difference. Offer to introduce them to a dive instructor if you’re not one yet, or teach them to dive if you are.

Then, watch their eyes light up when they see, hear and feel what you and I have come to love so much. It’s one of the most rewarding ways to contribute to a better future.

Dr. Drew Richardson
PADI President & CEO

 

PADI’s Pillars of Change- A Force for Good in Koh Tao, Thailand

Written by PADI Territory Director Tim Hunt 

At  PADI  we  are  committed  to  supporting  social  and  environmental  efforts  through  PADI’s Pillars of Change. It  is  something  you’ve  heard  us  talk  about  during  our  member  forums,  general updates  and Social  Media  channels  –  but  we  are  also  putting  these words  into  action.  Around  the  globe  our  field  staff  are  spreading  the  message  to  members  and  to  potential  PADI  divers,  as  our  community  continues  to  grow.  Here  is  a  quick  look  at  the  efforts  of  Regional  Manager  Neil  Richards  and  Regional  Training  Consultant  Guy  Corsellis,  who  are  both based  in  Koh  Tao,  Thailand.

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Marine Animal Protection  –  As  we all  know  a  healthy  ocean  is  vital  to  humanity. Therefore, PADI is taking steps to help divers become part of a positive solution to help impact and change our oceans. Guy and his son Iggy (PADI Divemaster Candidate) took this powerful message to the children from schools in their region, Koh Tao’s International Primary School and a local Thai Public School. After giving presentations to these children about the behavior of marine animals in their local underwater habitat, they were also able to provide some eco-friendly tips. By teaching and educating the children on how important our oceans, including the species within it, they will learn and help spread our message from an early age. We hope that as the future generation, they can influence change for generations to come.

2

Ocean Health  – With over 200,000 identified species in the oceans and millions more to discover, protecting our marine life biodiversity is critical. PADI works closely with organisations that strive to help and protect our oceans in a multitude of ways.  As our key partner in the environment for 25 years, Project AWARE  is one such organisation that is committed to keeping the natural balance in our aquatic world.  Project AWARE’s Community Conservation Officer, Jack Fishman, visited  Thailand to spread the word on Project AWARE’s Dive Against Debris Specialty Course, helping PADI dive centres engage with their community and tackle marine debris head on. He gave valuable insight into the role scuba divers play in highlighting the extent of the marine debris problem. The Project AWARE Shark Conservation Specialty Course was also taught to a large number of divers. PADI continues to support the education of our community into the importance of sharks and keeping marine ecosystems in equilibrium.

3

Healing and Wellness  – Becoming a diver is a life changing experience for a lot of people. It can drive career changes and provide transformations both mentally and physically. PADI’s Adaptive Techniques Specialty Course is a great example of this. It is a fantastic way for people to overcome adversity, illness or disability. Neil Richards and Guy Corsellis taught the specialty to the PADI Course Directors on Koh Tao to get them all motivated to support the transformation this speciality can bring. In a truly inspiring session, the PADI Course Directors showed great camaraderie as they worked together to develop different techniques to teaching. A course that was a real opener to some seasoned PADI professionals, will now become crucial to not only providing new divers the ability to fulfill their dreams, but also to inspire others along the way.

4

People + Community  – Very few people give more to a community than its emergency teams, ready  to help in an instant and putting others needs ahead of their own. Neil and Guy decided to give a little back when they took some of the nurses from Koh Tao’s newly opened hospital out for some fun under the water, as part of PADI Women’s Dive Day. The six nurses were introduced to a whole new world during a PADI Discover Scuba Diving Introductory Experience. By supporting the training of local people to foster sustainability, PADI continues to educate and support local communities to cultivate the protection mindset necessary for ocean health and marine animal protection.

 

For more information about the PADI Pillars of Change, please visit our website here.

#PADI4Change