Blue Water Heroes: A Call to Action More Than An Awards Ceremony

Blue Water Heroes: A Call to Action More Than An Awards Ceremony

October 25, 2023

The Blue Water Heroes Awards presents 10 Southeast Asian finalists, representing trailblazers in marine conservation who have made significant contributions through their diverse initiatives and endeavors.

Blue Water EduFest, the non-profit marine conservation event organized by ONE°15, is set to celebrate the distinguished Blue Water Heroes once again on November 3 with a meaningful awards dinner honoring these heroes. This award ceremony is a heartfelt tribute to outstanding marine conservationists within our region.

The Blue Water Heroes, the heart and soul of Blue Water EduFest, shine a spotlight on fearless and passionate champions of marine conservation. The event serves as a pivotal platform where the inspiring eco-champions from Southeast Asia present their pioneering research programs and visionary project concepts. Through the Blue Water Heroes Awards, the participants aim to raise awareness of their marine conservation efforts, thereby catalyzing concrete and transformative advancements to the vital cause of ocean preservation.

“Blue Water Heroes is not just an award ceremony; it’s a beacon of hope and a call to action. Encouraging the activists in our region to spearhead marine conservation is vital because they hold the key to a sustainable future for our oceans. Their passion, fresh perspectives, and unwavering commitment remind us that the responsibility for ocean conservation belongs to us all,” shares Arthur Tay, CEO & Executive Director of SUTL Enterprise.

This year’s ten Blue Water Heroes finalists from around the region are actively involved and instrumental in marine conservation efforts by educating local communities, organising communal beach clean-ups, or converting ocean plastics into hydrogen fuel and seaweed into biofilter, just to name a few. One of this year’s finalists is Mathilda D’silva from Singapore, founder of Ocean Purpose Project (OPP), which has, in just a span of 3 years, collected more than 5000 kg of rubbish from beaches and also helped set up Pasir Ris’s first off-grid office that runs solely on solar power. Mathilda D’silva’s conservation journey began in 2015—following exposure to waters polluted by sewage after a dragon boat race in Boracay in The Philippines, she was diagnosed with three autoimmune diseases.

Another finalist, Oh Chu Xian, is the founder of Magorium, an organization founded in 2019 that is currently reshaping road construction by converting contaminated and unsorted plastic waste, excluding harmful PVC, into NEWBitumen—a sustainable alternative to traditional bitumen. To date, through Magorium, Oh Chu Xian has diverted over 8,000 kg of plastic waste from incineration. Additionally, Oh Chu Xian is committed to raising Singapore’s plastic recycling rate from 4% to 35% by 2025, contributing to a cleaner environment and waters.

Mina Bhakti Segara Lestari is a community organization committed to fostering collaborations, raising awareness, and driving systematic change. Under the leadership of Made Mertaekales (Pak Eka) and a community of former cyanide fishermen in Les Village, they transitioned from destructive fishing practices to sustainable netting methods, such as “barrier nets” in 2002, which helped to restore the damaged coral reefs and revive marine life. Since 2012, they have also devised innovative reef structures and collaborated with the ecotourism industry to fund reef-building. They also share their reef rehabilitation journey with visitors, schools, and universities. Pak Eka’s exceptional work extends to being an educator, community leader, and mentor, all achieved without external grants, relying instead on educational ventures and eco-tourists for support.

Known as BiogirlMJ, Kong Man Jing runs an engaging social media channel that simplifies complex environmental issues through quirky illustrations. Her content spans topics like marine ecosystems, human-wildlife conflicts, and plastic pollution, influencing young children, parents, the elderly, and schools to engage with environmental and sustainability issues. Beyond her digital presence, MJ partners with green groups for campaigns and beach cleanups and was part of the Ocean Geographic Climate Expedition to Antarctica with her longtime role model, Dr Sylvia Earle.

More information on all the finalists of Blue Water Heroes can be found HERE.

“Urgent action on marine conservation is not merely an option; it is our lifeline. There is a need to foster innovation and collaboration for scalable solutions. It is deeply encouraging to see the progress made by the unsung heroes, who are dedicated to building a sustainable ocean. The Blue Water Heroes Awards provides a platform to not only bring the selected eco-champions to spotlight and inspire others but also catalyse innovative solutions through enabling them to further scale their impact.” Janet Shum, Sustainable Investing Specialist, APAC, Citi Global Wealth, one of the judges of the awards.

The judging panel of Blue Water Heroes Awards includes an esteemed panel comprising Arthur Tay, Chairman and CEO, SUTL Group; social media influencer and climate advocate, Paul Foster; Janet Shum, Sustainable Investing Specialist, APAC, Citi Global Wealth; Christine Amour-Levar, Founder & CEO, HER Planet Earth, Co-Founder, Investors for Climate; Chong Seow Wei, Regional Senior Editor, Tatler Gen.T; Dr. Winston Chow, Associate Professor of Urban Climate, Singapore Management University and Dr. Toh Tai Chong, Senior Lecturer, National University of Singapore.

The Blue Water Heroes will also include virtual and live presentations by the past year’s winners, Melati Riyanto Wijsen, (founder of Bye Bye Plastic Bags), Thanda Ko Gyi, (founder of the Myanmar Ocean Project) and Dr Louisa Ponnampalam, (founder of MareCet Research Organisation) who will share more about their current efforts ever since winning Blue Water Heroes last year. With an unwavering dedication to empowering enthusiastic and courageous eco-champions across Southeast Asia, Blue Water EduFest 2023 is poised to redefine the boundaries of marine conservation. Blue Water Heroes serves as a platform to encourage our future leaders of tomorrow to take actionable steps to help preserve our oceans and coastlines.

Ed.  Article photo courtesy of Redhill Asia.


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