News | April 13, 2023
Las Vegas Sands and Clean the World Foundation, a global leader in water, sanitation, hygiene and sustainability have announced that the University of Saint Joseph (USJ) in Macao has been awarded a 2022-2023 Drop by Drop Project grant to study the role of mangroves in reducing plastic pollution in coastal wetlands, marking the university’s third year of participation in the program.
The Drop by Drop Project is a collaboration between the Clean the World Foundation and Sands to support innovative water stewardship projects with local water champions in the company’s regions of Macao and Singapore. Managed and operated by Clean the World Foundation, the Drop by Drop Project was established in 2019 to support initiatives centered around water conservation and environmental sustainability through water and nature-based solutions.
“The University of Saint Joseph’s Institute of Science and Environment provides a dynamic, engaging and international learning environment in Macao where students and researchers can actively contribute to scientific progress while developing as skilled professionals and responsible students,” said David Gonçalves, dean of the Institute of Science and Environment (ISE) and associate professor at USJ.
As part of the 2022-2023 grant, USJ is focusing on coastal protection and nature-based solutions to reduce plastic pollution through entrapment by mangroves in Macao. Coordinated by ISE Professor Karen Tagulao, the project is investigating the role of local wetland ecosystems and the possible reduction of plastic pollution along Macao’s shoreline. USJ is using these results to educate and advocate for the protection of coastal wetlands through community engagement activities and mitigation strategies such as community clean-up programs, native wetland vegetation plantings and other active advocacy initiatives.
In support of the project, Sand ECO360 ambassadors and USJ volunteers teamed up last fall for a Coastal Cleanup Day to collect and sort waste materials from beaches next to Avenida de Cinco de Outubro and Tam Kong Temple in Coloane. Most of the materials collected were plastics and polystyrene, which require 450-1,000 years to degrade in a landfill.
USJ also held a microplastics workshop for citizen scientists, which was attended by Sands ECO360 ambassadors and local community members, and conducted a mobile exhibition that visited schools in Macao to educate thousands of students, families and community members on the role of mangroves and coastal ecosystems in mitigating the effects of coastal pollution.
“Access to safe water and sanitation is a human right, and the Drop by Drop Project seeks to expand these efforts in Macao,” Manohar Shenoy, executive director of Clean the World Foundation, said. “USJ’s community engagement puts education into practice and encourages behavior change at the local level and national level.”
As a recipient of the 2021-2022 Drop by Drop Project grant, USJ previously investigated the role of local wetland ecosystems for capturing and storing atmospheric carbon dioxide, reducing water-related natural disasters and limiting shoreline erosion. The results showed the positive applications of wetland conservation on managing environmental degradation. The project integrated field studies, community-based surveys, and activities and awareness campaigns to protect Macao’s water systems.
“USJ’s work manifests our focus on protecting waterways and supporting biodiversity to ensure the health of our regions’ water ecosystems, which is why we have continued to invest in their efforts over the years,” Katarina Tesarova, senior vice president and chief sustainability officer at Sands, said. “As important, USJ’s ability to connect scientifically based research with community environmental conservation exemplifies the purpose of the Drop by Drop Project.”
For more information on The Drop by Drop Project, please visit: http://cleantheworldfoundation.org/dropbydrop