Check out our new regular blog series: Meet Our Ocean Leaders.
First Spotlight: Bryan Madera, Manila, Philippines
Today’s youth population is larger than ever, with 1.8 billion people between the ages of 10 and 24, and approximately 90 percent are living in less developed countries. The 2030 Agenda recognizes that young people have a strong ability to drive change, and more than one-third of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal involve youth explicitly or implicitly. Also, young people are often the most affected by changes in their communities. However, they are rarely offered a seat at the table and, consequently, left out of the decision-making processes about their future.
First up, meet Bryan Madera, 30, from Manila, Philippines.
Here at Sustainable Ocean Alliance (SOA), we believe young people are the guardians of the planet’s future and deserve to be heard. The work we witness happening through our young ocean leaders, from Guimaras Island in the Philippines to Accra, Ghana, is absolutely incredible and we wanted to share it with the world.
Which area of intervention are you interested in tackling?
Marine Pollution, MPAs, Sustainable Fisheries
Tell us about yourself and the work you are doing in your community to help protect the ocean?
I am currently working as a Natural Resources Management Officer for a government project that is a platform for sustainable rural development aiming to alleviate the lives of the fishermen.
I work with different stakeholders such as fishermen, community leaders, government, schools, and NGOs in the management of their fisheries and coastal resources through MPAs management, policy improvements, education, and supplemental livelihood.
In my free time, I lead the Plastic Battle campaign. Plastic Battle partners with restaurants, hotels, resorts and hostels to make clean and safe drinking water accessible and encourages them to stop selling water bottles. The partner refilling stations are then mapped out to share with the community and the tourist to easily access these refilling stations where they can refill their reusable water bottle for free or at cost. I also partner with event organizers and local leaders to provide water refilling during events and festivals. To strengthen this advocacy, we also wrote a draft ordinance requiring restaurants and hotels to provide water refillings instead of bottled water.
What inspired you to get involved in ocean health?
Marginalized fishermen and future generations inspire me to get involved in the conservation of the sea. Boracay Island, a small island in the central Philippines, showed me that tourism can be a double-edged sword that can bring positive impact to the economy but at the same time ruin the environment. Often, the environmental impact associated with tourism can negatively affect fishermen/the fishing community that are dependent on coastal resources for their food and livelihood.
Whale sharks and corals also inspire me to take ocean action and protect them as they don't have a voice to speak on their behalf.
Why do you believe your ocean project is especially impactful?
My Plastic Battle campaign involves different stakeholders to participate and act on the reduction of marine pollution at source by understanding the human rights to water. I witness businesses showing interest in my ocean project as they are considering their impact on the environment, and as individuals, they want to take action. Plastic Battle uses a design thinking approach to understand why we rely on bottled water to access clean and safe drinking water and then uses this data to help prevent single-use bottles at the source in the future.
What does being a young ocean leader mean to you?
A young ocean leader is a person who can encourage and enable others to take action to protect our oceans, who is brave enough to lead despite their age and includes everyone (no matter their age, sex or race) in taking action to reduce our anthropogenic impact.
Where do you see yourself and your work in five years?
I hope that one day we have accessible clean and safe drinking water. I also hope that one day there will be a national policy requiring businesses such as restaurants, hotels, ports and government offices to make clean and safe drinking water accessible for all so we can just refill instead of buying bottled water.
How can others around the world help in the fight to protect our oceans?
On earth everything is connected -- we, as individuals, should be mindful of our actions as this will directly affect our environment. We all need to understand that our environment, including the ocean, is our only life support system and is essential for our survival. We can start by integrating environmental education into school curriculums with the hope that this knowledge will spur appreciation and love for the ocean. Alternatively, we can educate ourselves through reading blogs or watching documentaries and learn how we can help save our oceans. We can then take it to the next level by reducing our reliance on disposable items, reducing our meat consumption, choosing sustainable seafood, and ultimately reducing our carbon footprint. We all have the power to be sustainable role models and influence others to follow suit.
Bryan, we are so proud of the work you are doing and can’t wait to see you at the Our Ocean Youth Leadership Summit in Oslo, Norway in October. Let the countdown begin!