A team of four tenacious women are coming together to kick off ‘Stand Up For Our Seas’ this month, an ambitious event aimed at raising awareness over a range of environmental issues in the Maldives.
Addu, the Heart-shaped Atoll, lies in the southernmost tip of the Maldives and is home to some of the most diverse natural habitats in the country. With its large islands, unique geography, flourishing population and long history and culture, Addu stands out as a destination that seamlessly marries nature with development. Addu represents a community evolved to embrace the future with imagination and pride.
It’s no secret that plastic pollution and marine debris is a huge problem threatening the health of our oceans. That’s why PADI is involved in an industry-wide initiative called Mission 2020, which aims to inspire dive-related businesses and charities to commit to reducing their plastic use.
Project AWARE and Hilton team up to support Emille Artigas’ Thrive Sabbatical Project:
At the end of March, Emille Artigas ( Hilton’s Director – Marketing and Communications) in partnership with Teo Brambilla (PADI Regional Manager) organized and underwater cleanup – DIVE AGAINST DEBRIS – few miles out of Hilton Al Hamra in Ras Al Kaimah (in UAE), as part of her Thrive Sabbatical Project:
PADI, HEPCA, CDWS and Aqua Lung would like to celebrate this year’s Earth Day the 22nd of April with a BIG underwater clean-up to keep the Red Sea’s spectacular sites and beautiful beaches exuberant with colorful corals and healthy marine life.
Historian Daniel Boorstin once said, “Education is learning what you didn’t even know you didn’t know,” and that applies to the threats to our oceans and global environment. The threats are not always obvious. Before you protest that they are, let me put it this way. I agree that plastic debris are a major threat, but how can we educate our communities that this is the case? Many people on this planet may not have seen the plastic pollution in the world that we have. Maybe a littered beach, but how do folks learn that it’s a global, not local, problem? It is clear from data-driven temperature and climate graphs that average global temperatures are rising, but how do we help our communities accept that this is an urgent, very real problem – that the upward temperature change rate is unprecedented and has continued steadily since we’ve started measuring it? Similarly, we know that recycling helps, and dumping motor oil on the street hurts, but how do we know?
The reality is that it is difficult to see global problems and solutions alone because they’re too big. We make them visible together,communicating and consolidating what we learn locally into the worldwide mosaic that shows us what’s going on globally. It’s how we know the problems, their magnitude and what works or should work to solve them. The scale of global threats means that education isn’t merely important, but essential in bringing about the social changes needed to restore and protect the environment. Unless we’re taught, most of us can’t know about them, much less our roles in solving them.
Thankfully, education is happening and it works. In a previous blog, I highlighted PADI Pros who educate youngsters about threats to the seas and teach rising generations to prioritize ocean health – after all, saving the seas is really saving us. And, studies find that teaching conservation can start effectively establishing these essential values as young as age four.
In 2015, the Global Education Monitoring report published by UNESCO (United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization) found that “improving knowledge, instilling values, fostering beliefs and shifting attitudes, education has considerable power to help individual reconsider environmentally harmful lifestyles and behavior.” Educating across age ranges is particularly important amid cultures that have not traditionally needed to worry about the environment, but fortunately, recognizing that today we all have to worry about it, a growing number of countries require environmental education, and it’s working. Among them, India has environmental education programs targeted for learners from preschool through adult. It’s estimated that since 2003, in some form or other, these programs have reached 300 million students. The results have been varied and mixed, but generally good and trending positive, these programs are shaping attitudes about individual behaviors, choices and sustainability.
Admittedly, some have questioned the ability to reshape values past adolescence, but a 2017 study in People’s Republic of China studied the effect of environmental education on 287 older (college age) students at Minzu University, Beijing, and found “notable positive effects on environmental attitude.” Beyond this study, China has demonstrated the difference education can make when it supports, and is supported by, government efforts and policy. Formerly the number one consumer of shark fin soup (shark fin soup accounts for about 73 million sharks killed annually), a Wild Aid report says that since 2011 consumption has fallen 80 percent in China.
According to the report, declines in public shark fin demand in China resulted from awareness campaigns (education) coupled with the government’s ban on it for official functions and general discouragement of consuming shark fin. Retired pro basketball player Yao Ming is particularly credited with helping through a highly publicized public education outreach in his home country. Apparently, many people living in China didn’t even know what shark fin soup is (the translated name is “fish-wing-soup”), but now surveys show that more than 90 percent support banning it.
Although this is good news for sharks, the Wild Aid report also shows that shark fin consumption is still high and increasing in other countries. Why? As many as half of the consumers/potential consumers are unaware that shark consumption is threatening the animals and poses health hazards. The fix? China shows that education – similar campaigns in these countries – would likely be a great start.
This highlights a crucial point: We’re not all scuba instructors, college professors nor school teachers, but we are all educators. Whether it’s a dinner conversation with friends or gently correcting misconceptions in social media, it’s our responsibility as the oceans’ ambassadors to inform and influence others to see and understand the problems, and how we can make better choices to keep Earth sustainable.
Don’t underestimate your influence in doing this – as a diver, you’ve seen the underwater world’s wonder and fragility, and likely some of the damage, first-hand. What you can teach is compelling, and passes the sustainability imperative to our rising generation of educators. As Nelson Mandela said, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”
Dr. Drew Richardson
PADI President & CEO
PADI’s long-standing commitment to ocean conservation began more than 25 years ago with the formation of Project AWARE® Foundation. In 2017, the PADI Pillars of Change were introduced to increase awareness of issues affecting our ocean communities, and to mobilise PADI® Professionals and divers to act together as a catalyst for positive change. Now, the PADI organization is integrating the Mission 2020 effort to reduce plastics in the ocean into its overall commitment to ocean health and corporate citizenship ethos.
Aligning with PADI’s belief that greater change can be affected when working together, Mission 2020 is a collection of pledges from organisations within the diving community to change business practices to protect and preserve the ocean for the future. With a primary focus on single-use plastics, the project sets ambitious targets of changes to be made before World Oceans Day 2020.
PADI’s Mission 2020 Pledge
As PADI moves towards a fully integrated and digital learning system, we will lessen our dependency on plastics and packaging, thereby mitigating the plastic footprint of PADI Professionals and the million divers certified each year. To broaden our impact even further, PADI is committed to rallying our 6,600 Dive Centres and Resorts to reduce their use of single-use plastics by the year 2020. We invite everyone to make a pledge and to change their business practices in support of a clean and healthy ocean.
“We are passionate about creating a preferred view of the future in healthier oceans. We have a strong legacy of environmental conservation behind us and a robust roadmap for continued progress that will drive our force for good responsibility well into the future. This is the foundation of PADI’s Mission 2020 pledge, and it is our hope that this project will inspire the PADI community to make immediate commitments that will lead to lasting change.’ – Drew Richardson, President and CEO of PADI Worldwide
Why You Should Make a 2020 Commitment
It’s good for the planet – Changing your business practices to reduce plastics is good for the ocean and good for us too. Let’s protect the places we love to dive and make sure they are healthy for future generations.
It will enhance your business – Consumers are proud to attach themselves to a business with purpose. Show your customers that you care about the ocean and they will reward you with their loyalty.
It’s good for the dive industry – If we come together as an industry to protect our ocean planet, we set a good example for other businesses to follow. If a clean, healthy ocean is our goal, we need all the help we can get.
PADI’s Mission 2020 pledge to reduce plastic with help restore ocean health. Join us in protecting the underwater world we love.
Impactful Ways to Reduce Your Plastic Use
- Prevent debris from getting into the ocean! Remove single use plastics like water bottles, plastic bags and plastic cups from your shop and dive boats.
- Work with your local community to organise joint beach and underwater clean-up events. This effort brings awareness to everyone about how individual behaviors positively impact our environment.
- Set monthly and yearly clean up goals for your local dive sites. Log the debris on the Project AWARE Dive Against Debris® App to contribute to data collection that could influence new ocean-friendly policies.
- Protect your local waters and Adopt a Dive Site™. It’s the ideal way to engage in ongoing, local protection and monitoring of our underwater playgrounds.
- Carry sustainably made merchandise in your dive centre or resort. Make sure tee shirts, hoodies and other branded goods come from eco-friendly suppliers and are made from non-plastic materials or from recycled plastic fibers.
- Make the switch to PADI eLearning® and improve your carbon footprint. Going digital reduces production of plastic materials and removes the need for shipping.
Make a Mission 2020 Pledge
All members of the dive community are encouraged to make a Mission 2020 pledge. And what a great time to align your pledge with your 2019 New Year’s resolutions! Whether sustainability is already a key component of your business model or you’re just getting started, we encourage you to join in by making adjustments (big and small) to your business practices in support of a clean and healthy ocean. See what others in the industry have pledged on Mission 2020’s Who’s In page.
We believe that the global PADI family is a force for good that can help play a critical role in protecting and preserving our oceans for the future if we all make conservation a priority at our places of business.
Following on from the success of the Project AWARE Week last year, the dates for the 2019 Project AWARE Week are 14th – 22nd September 2019. This week represents a fantastic opportunity for dive centres, clubs and individual members to bring together their divers and take action to promote awareness of issues surrounding ocean health.
• Use Project AWARE week to bring together the divers you have trained so far in 2019. This gives them a great opportunity to work as part of the diving community whilst learning about how we can help create awareness of our ocean health.
• Consider running the Project AWARE Dive Against Debris course in a few different locations. This way divers can see for themselves the challenges which are faced in the rising tide of trash which ends up in the oceans. You might also wish to consider opportunities for non-divers, such as beach or river bank clean-ups.
• The revised Project AWARE specialty was launched for the 2018 Project AWARE week, with a great reception. There is no minimum age for this course, which makes it a great tool to use when reaching out to schools and communities.
• Promote the events to your PADI Open Water referrals from 2019. Whilst they may have completed their open water dives in a different country, this is a great way to show them how welcoming the UK diving community is. They may also be interested in completing the Project AWARE Dive Against Debris at this time as well as September generally boasts some of the warmest water temperatures.
• Consider the marketing and social media opportunities which you could embrace as part of this week. Running beach clean-ups and Dive Against Debris dives are the sort of events which can attract great publicity whilst also benefitting the dive site or beach and the local community.
• For every dive trip you plan, arrange for one day to look at the ocean conservation issues local to your trip destination. In some destinations, you may find that there are coral conservation schemes, or research organisations working to protect certain species.
• Encourage your divers to complete the Dive Against Debris Adventure Dive during their Advanced Open Water course.
Of course, your ocean awareness activities don’t need to be restricted to one week. There are plenty of ways you can continually promote conservation and awareness efforts throughout the year.
In February 2019, PADI hosted a UK Diving Safety event in Bristol. From the moment the event was announced, there was a real buzz around it, and justifiably so. With key presenters from the Royal National Lifeboat Institution, Maritime and Coastguard Agency, Health and Safety Executive, Diving Diseases Research Centre, British Diving Safety Group, Divers Alert Network, and PADI, the event brought together stalwarts of UK diving with a wealth of experience and knowledge to share with PADI Pros.
What was clear from the popularity of the event was the dedication from the PADI Pro community to do their utmost to promote safety for the divers they train. Whilst divers are always encouraged to “Plan the dive, then dive the plan”, the event brought into focus the consequences of what can happen when the unplanned happens.
A great starting place for PADI Pros in the UK to promote safety and planning for problems to their divers is to encourage them to complete the RNLI Diver Sea Survival Specialty . This specialty course launched in 2017, and covers lots of information pertinent to diving in the UK. The course is one which appeals to both beginners and professionals alike, including:
• New divers who certified overseas
• Dive professionals who have been working overseas, and would like a familiarisation of techniques for UK diving
• Divers looking to attend dive club trips to unfamiliar locations
If you are a PADI Instructor, you can download the PADI RNLI Diver Sea Survival Instructor Guide as well as the related course presentations from www.rnli.org/diveinstructor.
If you are working as part of a dive team, take time to review your “what if” procedures to ensure that your dive team are all clear on what your emergency protocols are. It is also a great time to get some in-water practice and scenarios for your staff. Consider running a staff training event where you practice different in-water scenarios. This would highlight areas for improvement in your plans. There is the opportunity in quieter months to also review your paperwork, including project plans and risk assessments to ensure they are up to date.
Luca Hales is one of the PADI youngest Ambassadivers in the world, Luca is an Egyptian British twelve years old young man who is currently a PADI Master Scuba Diver with more than 200 dives under his belt.
I first met Luca in March 2018; Luca was present during a PADI Member Forum in Sharm El Sheikh, while PADI Member Forum is mainly for PADI professionals, I found this young man sat there talking to instructors and asking me if I need any help setting up.
At the time, Luca was an advanced diver and wanted to do more, Luca then teamed up with another passionate individual PADI Course Director Yahya Khairy, who sponsored Luca to do many courses with him during 2018, to become a PADI MSD with five specialities so far and is about to start another five specialities soon.
All I can say is that we need more young people like Luca who truly care about diving and about our oceans.