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Blue Water Heroes Awards: Jessica Novia's Inspiring Journey to Protect the Ocean

Updated: Dec 12, 2023


Jessica Novia and other finalists
Photo: ONE°15 Marina and Tatler Gen.T

"I was born and raised in a coastal town in Indonesia, called Pekalongan – which is predicted to be 90% submerged by 2035 due to sea level rise and land subsidence.” - Jessica Novia, CarbonEthics’ Co-Founder and Chief Impact Officer


The ocean represents 95% of this planet’s biosphere and sequesters 30% of all carbon emissions released. The ocean also absorbs about 90 percent of the heat generated by rising emissions. As this warms the ocean, the change in temperature leads to interconnected consequences, including ice melting, sea-level rise, marine heat waves, and ocean acidification. These changes ultimately cause a lasting impact on marine biodiversity and the lives and livelihoods of coastal communities around the world.


In 2019, Jessica Novia, together with Agung Bimo Listyanu and Innandya Kusumawardhani van der Kolk, founded CarbonEthics, an organization with a community-based approach to blue carbon conservation. In 2021, she expanded her impact by establishing Bumi Journey. Bumi Journey is complementing CarbonEthics by providing regenerative travel, allowing people to reconnect with nature as a means to a more harmonious relationship between human and nature. Bumi Journey enables people to visit CarbonEthics conservation sites, have a hands-on conservation experience, and learn about the positive impact from the coastal community partner.


CarbonEthics and Bumi Journey have planted 265 thousand biotas, including mangrove, seaweed, seagrass, and coral across Indonesia, thus capable of absorbing more than 10 million kg of CO2e and benefiting over 280 coastal communities in Indonesia and reaching more than 1 million people on climate education. The community development activity includes capacity-building initiatives that encompass planting and restoration guidance, climate education, financial literacy, sustainable entrepreneurship training, waste management, and infrastructure improvement.


CarbonEthics and Bumi Journey have collaborated with 250+ private companies, institutions, and government agencies. Some of the highlights of the partnership with the government are Moderating EU Climate Diplomacy Week; Launching regulation on single-use plastic reduction in Tanjung Pinang City, Bintan; Seagrass research with the Indonesian Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries; Crafting and launching low-carbon tourism routes in Jakarta.


In recognition of her remarkable contributions to marine and coastal conservation, Jessica Novia was honored as a finalist in the Blue Water Heroes Awards. This prestigious event celebrates the efforts of individuals who have made a significant difference in Southeast Asia's marine and coastal ecosystems. Hosted at ONE°15 Marina Sentosa Cove, Singapore, and organized as part of the Blue Water Edufest program in collaboration with Tatler Gen.T. On November 3rd 2023, Jessica attended the Blue Water Heroes Awarding Dinner to receive the awards.


The Blue Water Heroes Awards comprised two significant segments: a pitching competition and an awarding dinner. On October 10th, Jessica Novia took the stage virtually during the pitching competition. She presented her vision and work with CarbonEthics and Bumi Journey, focusing on conserving blue carbon ecosystems and uplifting the livelihoods of coastal communities.


This award nominated several prominent individuals who have had a significant impact on protecting nature. Those who are selected have already made a positive impact in advocating for and protecting coastal and marine life and environments in the last 24 months. They are also based in Southeast Asia and whose impact is mainly in the region. The list consists of a founder, co-founder, or head of a social enterprise that is improving marine health and sustainability using technology-enabled solutions.


Jessica Novia was nominated along with other finalists:

  • Tom Peacock-Nazil, CEO of Seven Clean Seas, who champions plastic-free oceans

  • Alvin Chelliah, Chief Programme Officer of Reef Check Malaysia, who conserves coral reefs with a community approach

  • Anna Oposa, marine conservationist and co-founder of Save Philippine Seas, aims to protect coastal and marine environments through education and community-based projects. She contributed to establishing the first shark sanctuary in the Philippines and designating the thresher shark as a nationally protected species.

  • Kong Man Jing, Co-founder of Just Keep Thinking, a Science and Environment channel. She educates netizens through insightful and entertaining social media content

  • Gary Bencheghib, Co-founder of Sungai Watch, who has a mission to protect Bali’s waterways

  • Swietenia Puspa Lestari, Founder & Executive Director of Divers Clean Action with a mission to clean the ocean from marine debris

  • Oh Chu Xian, founder of Magorium, that turns plastic waste into a new material for road infrastructure

  • Made Mertaekales (Pak Eka), founder of Mina Bhakti Segara Lestari, a community organization that preserves coral reefs in Bali

  • Mathilda D’silva, CEO of Ocean Purpose Projects, who conserves the ocean and cleans it from plastic pollution using technology and nature-based solutions.


The judging panel included experts from the marine industry:

  • Dr Toh Tai Chong, Senior Lecturer, National University of Singapore

  • Dr Winston Chow, Associate Professor of Urban Climate at Singapore Management University

  • Christine Amour-Levar, Founder & CEO, HER Planet Earth and Co-Founder, Investors for Climate

  • Janet Shum, Sustainable investing Specialist, APAC, Citi Global Wealth

  • Paul Foster, entertainment personality and environmentalist

  • Arthur Tay, Chairman and CEO of SUTL Group

  • Chong Seow Wei, Regional Senior Editor at Tatler Gen.T


The Ocean Collective Summit

During her visit to Singapore to receive the award, Jessica Novia also participated in The Ocean Collective Summit (TOCS) 2023, another remarkable component of the Blue Water Edufest. TOCS was initiated by The SeaKeepers in cooperation with Fabien Cousteau, the Founder of The Fabien Cousteau Ocean Learning Centre and Proteus Ocean Group. It brought together experts and enthusiasts in the marine industry to discuss crucial topics such as blue finance, plastic and circular economy, ocean technology, and sustainable ocean governance.


The Blue Water Edufest is an enlightening platform where passionate individuals dedicated to marine and coastal conservation connect and engage in meaningful discussions to safeguard our precious ocean. The recognition of Jessica Novia and her dedicated team is a testament to their commitment to protecting marine and coastal ecosystems and empowering coastal communities.


Continued Mission in CarbonEthics and Bumi Journey

The Blue Water Heroes award serves as a tremendous source of motivation for Jessica and the entire CarbonEthics and Bumi Journey team.


Together, Jessica Novia and the team hope to engage more institutions, individuals and other stakeholders to join the cause, working collaboratively to conserve our invaluable blue ecosystems.


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