(L-R: Mr Julian Chang, Board Director, The International SeaKeepers Society Asia, Mr Desmond Lee, Minister for National Development and Minister-in-Charge of Social Services Integration, Mr Arthur Tay, Chairman and CEO of SUTL Group, Ms Thien Kwee Eng, CEO, Sentosa Development Corporation)

  • Blue Water EduFest was inaugurated on 3 November 2022 by Guest-of-Honour, Mr Desmond Lee, Minister for National Development and Minister-in-Charge of Social Services Integration who shared on Singapore’s commitment to marine and coastal conservation.
  • Three inspiring eco-heroes were also crowned at the Blue Water Heroes Awards held on 4 November 2022.

SINGAPORE, 5 NOVEMBER 2022 – Marine conservation is a collective endeavour. Uniting the efforts of passionate individuals, eco-organisations, businesses, policy makers and more stakeholders may sound like an ambitious task. Yet, Blue Water EduFest 2022 has done exactly that, showcasing all-round commitment towards sustainability across different stakeholders in Singapore and the rest of Southeast Asia. The inaugural event organised by ONE15 Events Management (“ONE°15”), a subsidiary of SUTL Enterprise Limited (“SUTL”), was set into motion on 3 November 2022 and will continue running till 6 November 2022.

On 3 November 2022, the event was opened with a compelling speech by Guest-of-Honour, Mr Desmond Lee, Minister for National Development and Minister-in-Charge of Social Services Integration and Mr Arthur Tay, Chairman and CEO, SUTL Group. In line with Blue Water EduFest’s goal of motivating the public to take their first step in protecting our oceans, Mr Desmond Lee shared on Singapore’s ongoing governmental efforts and projects, as well as plans to solidify sustainability efforts and nurse our waters to health, demonstrating nationwide commitment towards marine and coastal conservation.

Introducing the Winning Eco-Heroes

The event was followed up with a two-day educational conference and nightly networking cocktail parties, during which Melati Riyanto Wijsen, Co-Founder of the social initiative “Bye Bye Plastic Bags”, Thanda Ko Gyi, Founder and Director of the NGO, Myanmar Ocean Project, and Dr Louisa Ponnampalam, Executive Director and Co-Founder of the MareCet Research Organisation, were announced as the winners of the Blue Water Heroes Awards. The awards segment was organised as an integral part of the event seeking to recognise individuals and organisations who have made significant contributions to marine conservation.

The winners received a cash prize and additional benefits in a bid to assist them in further developing their causes, including the provision of access to industry experts and more.

(L-R: Thanda Ko Gyi, Founder and Director of the NGO, Myanmar Ocean Project, Arthur Tay, Chairman and CEO of SUTL Group, Melati Riyanto Wijsen, Co-Founder of the social initiative “Bye Bye Plastic Bags”, Dr Louisa Ponnampalam, Executive Director and Co-Founder of the MareCet Research Organisation)

Melati Riyanto Wijsen is a representation of the passion within our new generation of youths to share the message of sustainability. At just 11 years old, Melati and her sister started the social initiative, “Bye Bye Plastic Bags” (BBPB), where they proceeded to lead the team to raise awareness of the issue of plastic waste through education, campaigns, engaging the community, and even involving policy makers on their initiatives. Her passion and tenacity in encouraging the public, corporations, and government bodies to incorporate eco-consciousness into their habits and policies is a huge motivation for more people to be part of this journey of ground-up advocacy of marine and coastal conservation.

Melati Riyanto Wijsen, the winner of the Blue Water Heroes award who received S$10,000 as a cash prize, exclaimed, “I’m shocked, grateful and touched at winning this award. I’m so inspired by the stories of the other finalists too! No matter which stage I stand on or classroom I’m in, I want every young person to be able to see themselves in my story and I believe that every young person can be a changemaker but may not know where and how to start, and I hope to help them on this journey.” When Melati started BBPB, she admitted that she had no business plan, no strategy, no funding, but she had a clear idea of the change she wanted to make. She drove home the point that conservation will not happen if people do not work together. Everyone has a role to play regardless if you’re a teacher, CEO, or a young person.    

On the other hand, Thanda Ko Gyi’s inspiring endeavours involve working with coastal communities whose lives are inherently tied closely with the ocean. Through the Myanmar Ocean Project, she pioneered research on understanding how abandoned, lost, or otherwise discarded fishing gear in Myanmar contributes to oceanic plastic pollution and took a step further to work with coastal communities to understand their perspectives before educating and involving them in her endeavours. To date, along with her team, her work has also included the removal of over 1,800 kilograms of harmful fishing nets from marine ecosystems, saving hundreds of marine animals.

Thanda Ko Gyi, the first runner-up of the awards who won S$6,000 as a cash prize, gushed, “I’m very grateful for this and to be present among everyone I admire here. I’ve been lucky to be given the opportunity to do what I do and I’d like to give others more opportunities in Myanmar to see the ocean the way I have.” She felt that it used to be just about caring about the fish in the ocean but it is more about educating the community and people about responsible fishing.     

When it comes to marine conservation, the rich marine life in our oceans is an integral part of the cause. With this focus, Dr Louisa Ponnampalam co-founded the MareCet Research Organisation — the first and only non-profit NGO in Malaysia dedicated to the research and conservation of marine mammals in Malaysia. With her efforts centred around protecting marine mammals and their fragile habitats, Dr Louisa has taken her efforts further to build a platform for developing local conservation leadership talent. There, she works closely with various stakeholders to optimise conservation outcomes for all involved, motivated to promote ocean stewardship within society at large in Malaysia.

Dr Louisa Ponnampalam, the second runner-up of the Blue Water Heroes awards, won S$4,000 as a cash prize and shared, “Through our work, we hope people will value the ocean. I’m very fortunate that I’m living my childhood dream. I’ve learnt that compassion, empathy and hard work are important. And people are at the centre of conservation.” She also shared that conservation is a marathon and not a sprint. Others may not see the changes immediately but all of us keep at it. It requires a strategy where it is not a “one size fits all” formula.

Each of the commendable individuals have taken it upon themselves to spearhead eco-efforts, targeting different aspects of marine conservation. While only three winners had been picked that night, the passion behind all the efforts and innovations of each finalist and every eco-hero will continue to serve as an inspiration for the public to play their part in protecting our waters in various aspects.

Group photo with all finalists and judges present at the awards ceremony
(L-R: Chong Seow Wei, Dr. Deo Florence Onda, Kyle Morgan, Marcellinus Jerry Winata, Dr Louisa Ponnampalam, Thanda Ko Gyi, Melati Riyanto Wijsen, Samantha Thian, Dr Neo Mei Lin, Dave Albao, Harlin Singh (Citi Private Bank), Dr Toh Tai Chong (NUS) and Arthur Tay

Upcoming Marina Clean Up

In a bid to harness community efforts and participation in marine conservation, the Blue Water EduFest will also be holding a Marina Clean Up on 6 November 2022, where more than 100 volunteers have signed up for this activity. Having taken a two year-hiatus due to the pandemic, ONE°15 Marina Sentosa Cove has taken the opportunity to relaunch their annual marina clean-up as a meaningful culmination to the Blue Water EduFest.

With our waters and coastlines rapidly deteriorating, all-round efforts and commitment towards the important cause of marine conservation from everyone have been more imperative than ever. The Blue Water EduFest 2022 team is proud to have emerged as a platform in uniting all these causes for a more hopeful future for our waters as each of us harness our expertise to protect our waters in every way we can.

About Blue Water EduFest 2022

Taking place from 3 to 6 November 2022 at the ONE°15 Marina Sentosa Cove Singapore, Blue Water EduFest 2022 is organised by ONE15 Events Management (“ONE°15”), a subsidiary of SUTL Enterprise Limited (“SUTL”), and presented by Citi Private Bank.

The four-day event seeks to promote and raise awareness about marine conservation and to highlight the efforts of eco-champions around the region through an awards show and nightly networking events.

Blue Water EduFest 2022 will also play host to the inaugural two-day educational conference, The Ocean Collective Summit (TOCS) which will feature a panel of iconic speakers across the scientific community, environmental agencies, and non-governmental organisations as they impart their knowledge on saving the oceans and coastlines. The conference is organised by The International SeaKeepers Society in cooperation with renowned Oceanographic Explorer, and Environmental Advocate, Fabien Cousteau.

About ONE°15 Marina Sentosa Cove

Inaugurated in 2007, ONE°15 Marina Sentosa Cove Singapore, is part of mainboard-listed SUTL Enterprise and is Asia’s most desired waterfront yachting destination. The Club features a beautiful marina of 270 berths with facilities to accommodate mega yachts of up to 220 feet, with its very own Customs, Immigration and Quarantine (CIQ) facility.

Recently named International Marina of the Year 2021 and Best Marina 2020 by Robb Report, the Platinum 5 Gold Anchor accredited marina provides top-notch marina services and is embellished with a Clubhouse – home to fine restaurants, luxurious suite rooms and world-class facilities furnished at the highest standards. Certified a Level 4 Fish-Friendly by Marina Industries Association and having been awarded the “Green Maritime Company of the Year” at the 11th edition of the Asia Boating Awards in 2015, the Club also places sustainability at the forefront of their efforts with the Coral Garden within the marina and annual clean-ups amongst other initiatives.

For more information, visit www.one15marina.com.

About SUTL Enterprise Limited (“SUTL Enterprise” or the “Group”)

Listed on the SGX Mainboard (SGX: BHU), SUTL Enterprise develops and operates marinas, and also provides marina consultancy, marina development and yacht chartering services. It owns the prestigious ONE°15 Marina at Sentosa Cove in Singapore and operates ONE15 Luxury Yachting, which offers yacht chartering services at the club.

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