• Future

Protecting the Oceans with Volunteer World:
Doing Good on a Holiday

  • Future

Vaca­tion­ing on fantas­tic coasts and doing good, like clear­ing coral reefs from waste – that is the simple but inge­nious idea of Volun­teer World. Since 2015, Dues­sel­dorf-based Mean­ing­ful Trav­el GmbH has been offer­ing this new way of trav­el­ling. Just like when we intro­duced the „North­drift“ movie, this arti­cle of our Valdivia Future Series deals with the state our oceans are in – this time in combi­na­tion with a hot tip for a very special kind of vacation.

Mixing Purpose with Pleasure 

Oceans cover two thirds of the earth’s surface and they are of funda­men­tal value for life on our plan­et. Yet, as gigan­tic as these water expans­es are – as a resource they have already reached their limit. It is most­ly the way they are misused as a waste dump which has reached shock­ing dimen­sions. But there is some good news, too: more and more enter­pris­es and projects are striv­ing to contain this influx of garbage. The waste is collect­ed at river mouths, on beach­es, out in the open sea, or under water and then recy­cled, if possible.

Volun­teer World’s idea is an espe­cial­ly creative one: Why not join a good purpose with plea­sure, thought founder Pascal Chris­ti­aens, who was award­ed the title of Mean­ing­ful Busi­ness Leader for this in 2022. Volun­teer World today offers this combi­na­tion of holi­days and volun­teer work in 78 coun­tries and is part of a network of more than 200 projects. Ocean protec­tion projects all over the world have been part of Volun­teer World’s program right from the start. Further holi­day activ­i­ties in their cata­logues include not only animal and envi­ron­men­tal protec­tion, or char­i­ty and educa­tion­al work, but also human­i­tar­i­an aid.

Better togeth­er

World­wide, more than 140,000 people are regis­tered with Volun­teer World. In 2022, close to 1,150 volun­teers were active in ocean and seal­ife protec­tion only. Today, the organ­i­sa­tion places volun­teers with almost 150 projects entire­ly or part­ly commit­ted to ocean and seal­ife protec­tion. Even if their goals differ in some aspects, dispos­al of waste found in the seas is always an impor­tant part of their activ­i­ties. Costa Rican NGO MareBlu’s clean-up program is a promi­nent exam­ple for this: they collect, sort, and dispose of waste found along Costa Rica’s Pacif­ic coast on a daily basis.

Volun­teer World’s success is not a coin­ci­dence. Whoev­er joins in will learn first-hand that they can do so much more than just watch the devel­op­ments in dismay. You will not be miss­ing out on the holi­day feel­ing, though, since you will be spend­ing time at the most gorgeous places in Mozam­bique, Indone­sia, Costa Rica, on the Bahamas, or at the Great Barri­er Reef off Australia. The program also has Euro­pean projects, e.g. in Portu­gal, Italy or Spain.

Diving into a Wonder­ful World

The field of ocean protec­tion has a large number of jobs, some on land, some in the water. The latter will obvi­ous­ly have to do with diving. Mind you, this is not neces­sar­i­ly an obsta­cle: At an extra charge, you can still obtain the required diving qual­i­fi­ca­tion right where the project is. Cours­es range from “PADI Open Water” to Dive­mas­ter and a vari­ety of special­iza­tions. What is more, an expe­ri­enced super­vi­sor will always be with you under water. So, from begin­ner to expe­ri­enced diver, every­body is welcome to join these projects – with or with­out diving experience!

This year, Volun­teer World is offer­ing 58 of such projects and they are not limit­ed to collect­ing waste or remov­ing damages caused by waste. It is about preserv­ing the ocean’s ecosys­tem as a whole, in other words the differ­ent under­wa­ter habi­tats and their crea­tures. Of course, each program has its own focus. Poten­tial activ­i­ties include:

  • Oberserv­ing and docu­ment­ing fish and coral populations
  • Support­ing coral breeding
  • Replant­i­ng corals
  • Clean­ing reefs and seabeds
  • Explor­ing and mapping under­wa­ter caves

A Beach Holi­day With a Special Benefit

In order to improve the health of the oceans and their popu­la­tions, there is, of course, a lot to do on land as well. Preserv­ing coastal vege­ta­tion, for instance, is impor­tant to bring to a halt erosion of beach­es and on-going loss of habi­tats. Further jobs include unclut­ter­ing beach­es or instruct­ing coastal resi­dents on waste preven­tion as well as envi­ron­men­tal and ocean protec­tion. At times, it is also neces­sary to gath­er scien­tif­ic data. This helps to better under­stand local issues and convince deci­sion-makers of new approach­es and solutions.

Partic­i­pants in the program have to be 18 or 21 years of age, have a basic command of English or Span­ish as well as a good level of phys­i­cal fitness. Other­wise, there are hard­ly any restric­tions – and many extra bene­fits: Giving concrete and useful help is in itself already a valu­able expe­ri­ence. More­over, you will meet inter­est­ing people, get in close touch with the host country’s culture and have the chance to boost your language skills. And an espe­cial­ly inter­est­ing thing for univer­si­ty students: Many univer­si­ties will allow for this volun­teer work to count as an intern­ship or a study course.

Contact Details

Mean­ing­ful Trav­el GmbH — Volun­teer World

Email: contact@volunteerworld.com

Inter­net: www.volunteerworld.com 


Roland­strasse 44

DE-40476 Dues­sel­dorf