The Philippines is rich in marine resources, with nearly 36,300 km of coastline in the archipelago of more than 7,600 islands. However, it is also one of the world’s biggest marine plastic polluters. A staggering 2.7 million tons of plastic waste are generated in the Philippines each year, 20 percent of which is estimated to end up in the ocean. Policies that aim to regulate solid waste in the country are generally viewed as inadequate and inefficient. As a result, communities struggle to address the pollution crisis and its impacts.
As a part of SIEMENS Gamesa‘s social commitment and in line with their mission as the country’s leading renewable company, they launched their first ever ocean conservation program in the Philippines together with One Earth-One Ocean (OEOO). The program serves as an avenue to raise awareness on the risks of marine pollution and encourage everyone to support the reduction of wastes in the ocean. OEOO, along with SIEMENS Gamesa, gathered local fishermen and their families to join a coastal cleanup drive. This inspired them and the members of their community to take part in preserving and protecting their coastal resources.
- What is your role in the Project?
I help the Project Manager (PM) in handling the issues, whether big or small, that he can no longer devote his time to. My work keeps the organization running so the PM can make the bigger, more important decisions and work.
- What motivated you to consider your role and intervention in this project?
I always wanted to be part of an operation like this, and I thought it would be difficult for a young person without any experience or money to bring to the table. Thanks to OEOO, however, I was given an opportunity to apply myself to what I believed in straight out of college. I am often told that this chance is not to be taken lightly, as it is very difficult to find a possibility where you can be satisfied knowing the outcome will always be in service to your beliefs.
- What challenges did you encounter while you were working or worked on the project?
There was so much learning in this project and taking care of sudden problems that I had not encountered before as I worked to keep every event as smooth as possible and satisfy not just my boss but also the partners who decided to put their trust in us. One example is the recent cleanup action in which I took charge of the organization for the first time and was dropped into the deep end of event planning for the first time. Now I feel that I am much more capable and, despite some setbacks, have delivered a satisfactory event.
- What would you call the biggest achievement of this project?
The focus should always be on the connection we fostered with the Fishermen of Bulungan and the wider world. Bringing the support of Siemens Gamesa to Paranaque provided experiences for both groups as the Fishermen needed to know that there are people out there who will help them maintain their environment without looking to profit off of them. For Siemens, it helps their employees and company to reconnect with the people they serve in a different way than they are used to and refocus on their company goals which are to help people attain sustainability.
- What were the interventions planned to achieve the outcomes / goals and how did they go?
There were several actions that were required to set up this event, including the approval of multiple government offices. In the end, the initial plan went through, and we did not need to use our backup plans. Thanks to this, we were able to work well with the Fishermen of Bulungan and accomplish a stunning 33.6 tons of garbage collected over the 7-day period.
- If you were to give any advice to people working within the same domain / sector what would that be?
Even when it gets really difficult or stressful and it seems like the world just wants to get in your way when doing the right thing, keep at it. You will be surprised how much you can achieve doing this kind of work and the different connections you make that help you carry out the mission further down the line.