Wednesday May 22nd, 2024
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How Deep is Your OceanLove: The Initiative Trying to Save Our Waters

In an effort to avoid society’s collective transformation into something out of ‘The Matrix’, the UN-endorsed OceanLove Innovation Award in Egypt is inaugurating an award for ocean conservationists.

Layan Adham Ismail

How Deep is Your OceanLove: The Initiative Trying to Save Our Waters

In our current sinking-ship world, with our bountiful tree-cutting, ocean-littering, pushing-animals-to-extinction environmental issues, earth inhabitants are looking for ways to curb the detrimental and Dune-level apocalyptic effects of our past and present negligence.

If you’re Elon Musk, you’re looking at other planets. If you’re Mark Zuckerberg, you’re building a bunker. If you’re the Obamas, you’re funding apocalyptic films starring Julia Roberts. But for the average human being, abandoning our home for a red planet or halting our efforts to collectively save it by hiding out underground like ‘The Matrix’ is not an option. And so, non-profit organizations are sprouting all around the globe and expanding their reach far beyond their starting point. On June 8th 2022, during World Ocean Day, one of these global initiatives branched out into Egypt in the form of OceanLove.

Managed by Egyptian freediver and record holder Raghda Ezzeldin, the initiative has managed to attach influential figures - including Egyptian and African champion, possible Poseidon descendant and three-time (!!!) Olympian Farida Osman - to its name as ambassadors. And this year, they’re upping the philanthropic ante by inaugurating the UN-endorsed OceanLove Innovation Award in Egypt, with applications having gone live since January 8th.Since turtle-loving has no age limit or background specifications, any and all individuals and groups are welcome to apply. “The award idea is meant to target everyone. Fishermen for example know more about the sea than us. They might have an idea that other experts don’t see,” Ezzeldin tells CairoScene. “Students also have fresh ideas that we can help refine and finalize. Kids can be creative, so why are we undermining their power in giving us a simple but impactful idea? We're not targeting entrepreneurs and scientists, just everyday people."

A group of renowned scientists and activists from around the globe form the panel of judges, bringing with them additional expertise from the NGO sector. The scoring criteria will encompass concepts such as originality (If we as Egyptians put as much effort into this initiative, as we do Facebook parodies, we’ll definitely come up with something), impact, reach and feasibility.

“All change begins with an idea. You don’t need money, higher education or a huge social network for a good idea, only the guts to share it with us,“ Ilco Van der Linde, OceanLove founder, tells CairoScene. “With the Award and all other OceanLove initiatives we aim to focus on opportunities and innovation, instead of only the drama.”

The top 30 applicants will be invited to attend an online bootcamp, during which they’ll receive guidance and support from social entrepreneurs and top environmental advisers (not Leo Dicaprio, unfortunately), rendering their ideas more impactful, feasible and scalable.

Afterwards, the panel will choose their Top 10 winners, who will then be invited to the award ceremony on June 19th in The Hague (as if you needed more reasons to apply), which will be co-organized with Oceanovation. This is where the matchmaking process begins. Applicants will be introduced to potential investors, partners and donors but only the most aquatic of all ideas will be shown the seed money (à la Jerry Maguire), amounting to EUR 10,000.

“This is not just another European initiative,” Ezzeldin says. “This is centred in Egypt with members from Africa, Asia and beyond.”This award was only made possible through a collaboration between the OceanLove volunteer team and the Dutch-based ECHT community. In addition to those that volunteer their time, Fred Foundation, which provides support to social initiatives geared towards a life in harmony, Stichting Nieuwe Waarde, which is people and animal sustainability-centered, and the OOF Foundation have all donated their money to the cause.

If you’re wondering what’s next on the OceanLife chartered path, the Innovation Award is going to be an annual occurrence, with the aim of broadening our minds and cleaning our waters. If you don’t want to do it for the people (no judgment, we dug our own hole here), then definitely do it for the baby turtles.

Applicants can present novel ideas related to products, campaigns or initiatives with the potential of contributing to the conservation of oceans, seas, marine resources and ecosystems by checking out the OceanLove website.