I hope you have all been keeping well during the COVID-19 pandemic.
I write to inform you that the International Coastal Cleanup Singapore will not be conducted this year. Yes, we are indeed suspending our annual data gathering coastal cleanup activity which has run since 1992. This is the fourth year in which the ICCS Coordinator has had to announce a suspension in 29 years:
- 1998 – tropical storms washed out all the beach cleanup sites
- 2015 – Transboundary haze
- 2019 – Transboundary haze
- 2020 – COVID-19 pandemic
Ocean Conservancy staff were supportive when I informed them last month of the likelihood of a suspension. Since then, my assessment of the news still concluded we needed to avoid promotion of a mass participation event this year. With 80+ organisations managing more than 3,000 participants in groups of 30 to a few hundred people, the safety precautionary principle applies and we will forgo the data-gathering coastal cleanup this year.
It will be a good time instead to reflect on the message of our many years of data, and to provide suggestions about how we can help to promote awareness of the issue, and review our practical actions for plastics reduction and sustainability. Last year, the Ministry of Environment and Water Resources unveiled Singapore’s inaugural Zero Waste Masterplan with a new target – to reduce our solid waste disposal by 30 per cent by 2030. This national target does require everyone’s attention and meaningful effort, especially with the new challenge COVID-19 has introduced.
For individuals who are very keen on a safely-organised coastal cleanup, do monitor the Facebook pages of various volunteer and corporate social enterprise groups at https://coastalcleanup.wordpress.com/year-round-cleanups/. Many marine conservation groups are also offering educational online events as never before, which we featured earlier.
Meanwhile, let’s look forward to visiting our shores once again, first to appreciate what we still have, and motivate that urgency in all of us to do better for nature and the environment.
Stay safe and stay informed everyone!
N. Sivasothi aka Otterman
International Coastal Cleanup Singapore
National University of Singapore