In 2011, at the age of 23, Anna Oposa co-founded Save Philippine Seas, a movement to protect her country’s richest marine resources. They mobilise Filipinos towards collective action and behaviour change. Shark conservation holds Anna’s particular interest, from grassroots interventions to campaigns to multilateral negotiations on wildlife trade. Amongst other things, her efforts resulted in 2015 in the country’s first shark and ray sanctuary through a local executive order. Furthermore, she started a programme to empower youth to be leaders in conservation: Sea and Earth advocates camp. Today there are already 250 alumni tackling conservation issues and inspiring others in all 10 Southeast Asian countries.
Anna Oposa was a performing artist and writer. But most of all, Anna is a multi-hyphenated change maker who lives a life dedicated to saving the Philippine Seas. Because her father pioneered environmental law in the Philippines, Anna was exposed to the Philippine environment and its issues at a young age and fell in love with its nature and waters. This love inspired her to protect it. To do this, she founded several successful education programmes, campaigns and organisations. Examples are the Shark Shelter Project (2012-present), which builds the capacity of local communities in Daanbantayan to protect thresher sharks, and the Sea and Earth Advocates Camp (2015-present), an environmental education and leadership programme that empowers youth ages 18-23 years old to be leaders in conservation.
Vision and Approach
Thresher sharks are valuable to Philippine tourism, as they can be seen almost every day being cleaned by cleaner fish and moon wrasses. This draws tourists from all over the world and supports about 80% of the local economy. In 2011, Anna co-founded Save Philippine Seas (SPS), a movement to protect her country’s richest marine resources by mobilizing Filipinos towards collective action and behaviour change. By engaging, educating, and empowering citizens (or as SPS calls their followers, seatizens) to take action for conservation and restoration, Anna aims to make people more mindful about how our daily decisions can make an impact on our natural environment.
“My goal is not as easy as it sounds: I want to create a generation of Philippinos who care about the country because the worst environmental issue is not pollution, not global warming, but apathy. My goal is to make people care.”Anna Oposa
Impact of the Future For Nature Award
- The financial support from the Future For Nature Award enabled Anna to embark her dream project: to establish a sanctuary for the pelagic thresher sharks near Malapascua Island. In 2015, this dream became a reality. The project site near Malapascua Island became the country’s first shark and ray sanctuary through a local executive order.
- The financial resources also supported capacity-building activities with law enforcers and educators. The law enforcement team was established, and educators began incorporating sustainable practices in school operations.
- FFN also enabled stakeholder consultations to collect data for the amendment of existing legislation.
"Anna is not a typical candidate for this award coming from an artistic rather than a scientific background, but with her relentless pursuit of ideals and using all tools of skill, contacts, democratic processes available, she has shown herself a brave and inspiring champion."Mr. John MacKinnon, International Selection Committee