The current of solidarity that flows around the planet
EDP has broken new ground by promoting voluntary action around the world on a single day: 25 May. On this day, hundreds of people from EDP's different geographies chose the Earth and "dared" to be energy. The coordinated volunteering day was one of the highlights of this year's Energy Campaign, which mobilised over a thousand volunteers between May and June.
World Energy Day: The beginning
The challenge was first launched some time ago: "Dare to be energy". A call to action, to care for the planet, health, the young, the future, people and communities. The EDP Group has taken inspiration for years from World Energy Day, celebrated on 29 May, responding to this challenge with different initiatives and 2023 was no exception – EDP volunteers once again embodied this transformative energy, capable of changing the world. The 2023 Energy Campaign spread through different countries on the four continents where EDP operates, with dozens of actions uniting more than 1,300 people.
The number of volunteers, hours of work donated, kilometres covered, people and institutions helped, and students visited in classrooms greatly exceeded the 2022 results, demonstrating how solidarity with others and the planet is deeply rooted in the spirit of EDP. This year, volunteering initiatives brought together over 700 volunteers on the same day – 25 May – in countries as far apart from each other as Brazil and Singapore, and Hungary and the United States, neither distance nor different realities proving to be obstacles.
Two days later, putting the #WeChooseEarth slogan into practice, we returned to Sesimbra, Portugal, for the second underwater clean-up sponsored by EDP, which broke two Guinness world records and removed 7.1 tonnes of rubbish from the seabed. However, we didn't stop there, also organising an underwater clean-up in Spain. These two initiatives collected a total of 18 tonnes of rubbish from the bottom of the sea.
The global challenges common to all geographies and it makes perfect sense for our Volunteer Programme to adopt the logic of 'think global, act local', supporting additional days in the different regions where we operate, with common objectives but tailored to the local circumstances, thereby generating a greater impact on our planet. 25 May will go down in history! It is a clear example of a global programme, in which over 700 volunteers, from North America to Singapore, 'moved for a greener planet'.
Marta Bastos dos Santos,Head of the EDP Volunteering Programme.
"It's a case of 'rolling up your sleeves' and not ignoring the different social and environmental issues, which turns our volunteers into true agents of change, because that is what they are!" said Francisca Nunes, from the EDP Volunteering Programme. The slogan 'Dare to share your energy' came about because, "all actions ask volunteers to, in one way or another, activate and share their energy with their communities." Sharing arose naturally, with Energy Classes in Portugal, Spain and Italy; with the 2nd Solidarity Energy Week, focussed this time on the town of Alcorriol, in the municipality of Torres Novas; with underwater clean-ups in Sesimbra in Portugal and at various points along the Spanish coast; and with the global action on 25 May, that involved solidarity walks, runs and coastal clean-up actions that took place on different continents.
EDP Volunteering: join in, wherever you are
We Choose Earth is a slogan all EDP volunteers follow constantly, but even more so when the effort directly impacts human lives and nature. Energy Campaign actions normally take place in areas where EDP operates, whether in large cities or in a small community alongside a production unit.
But they are much more than this. Schools in different regions often request Energy Classes, or they are proposed by volunteers. "We encourage our employees to give a class at the school of their children, grandchildren or other relatives," explained Francisca Nunes. The Solidarity Energy Week involves mobilising dozens of volunteers, associations and solidarity projects to one small Portuguese community. And the coastal and underwater clean-ups, which have a direct impact on the environment, are also becoming well-established within EDP Volunteering.
Solidarity campaign – global for the people and the planet
Thursday, 25 May. When Singapore was waking up on 25 May, it was still the middle of the night in Lisbon, Oviedo and Milan, while 24 May still had some hours left to run in São Paulo and Houston. The impact of this year's global action by EDP can be clearly seen from the fact that practically all 24 hours of the day were filled with the efforts of volunteers dedicating themselves to the cause in nearly a dozen countries.
As Thursday, 25 May, came to end in the United States and the global action finished, Singapore was already halfway through Friday, and World Energy Day, 29 May, was beckoning. This day serves as a reference for the Energy Campaign.
More than 700 volunteers from different countries contributed over 2,000 hours of work in total. While some regions collected rubbish, others organised solidarity walks or runs, or participated in sponsored cycling – Rides for Wishes – for the international Make-A-Wish charity, and trees were planted.
Asia Pacific is one of the most recent geographies in the EDP universe – known as EDPR APAC – and Singapore impressed us with its global action in the Energy Campaign. Nearly 200 volunteers gathered in Sembawang to clean up 1km of coastline. "It totally exceeded our expectations," said Joëlle Góis, from the Brand & Culture department at EDPR APAC. "We had 193 volunteers, 90% more than expected, and we were able to surprass the goal of collecting a ton of waste, while raising awareness for the need to protect the mangroves." There was so much enthusiasm, Joëlle Góis says they are already thinking about future actions.
It was the first volunteer event open to all colleagues in the region (Singapore) and we aimed to raise awareness for the need to protect the coastal mangroves. It totally exceeded our expectations."
Joëlle Góis, Brand & Culture at EDPR APAC
In the United States, Latin America and Europe, EDPR's walks and runs benefited two social partners: the Make-A-Wish charity and the Plant for the Planet NGO. About two hundred people gathered in the USA, Brazil, the United Kingdom, Poland and Hungary. While in Spain, where the annual EDP solidarity walk is well established and supports various associations with food products, some of the funds raised were allocated to Ukraine and to the two social partners.
In Portugal, from where the global action was coordinated, two different actions took place. In Lisbon, about fifty people collected rubbish from Crismina beach, in Cascais. In Porto, around a hundred volunteers walked in the City Park, with an initial warm-up by Jazzy Dance Studios. Francisca Nunes said, "In both Lisbon and Porto there was great support from the volunteers" for the common purpose of putting their hearts into caring for the planet.
A long dive – two records broken in Sesimbra
For the second year, EDP partnered with Oceanum Liberandum in a major campaign in Sesimbra, to raise people's awareness of the importance of caring for the oceans and ecosystems. Francisca Nunes said, "this is one of the initiatives that demonstrates EDP's positioning and its We Choose Earth mission." It could not have been more successful. After the dive in September 2022, when 597 divers participated in an underwater clean-up in Sesimbra, a new initiative on 27 May brought together even more participants, breaking two Guinness records.
In 24 hours, 842 divers jumped to the water, the highest number ever. From the seabed of Sesimbra, 7.1 tonnes of rubbish were removed, double that in September. This huge mound of waste helped set another record: the longest sentence written with recyclable materials, such as bottles, plastic bags and cans, totalling 5,253 pieces.
EDP is one of the main sponsors of this action organised by the Oceanum Liberandum association, in collaboration with Sesimbra Council and several local partners. More than a dozen EDP volunteers were involved in the operation, helping to facilitate the disposal of the collected rubbish in different ways.
- Movimento Claro will produce a surfboard, skateboards and racquets with the collected materials;
- Some of the rubbish will be transformed into Dafábrica4you furniture;
- Recyclable materials went to recycling units;
- Fishing tools and frames in good condition were given to fishermen;
- A vessel removed from the seabed will be renovated.
Also in Spain, on 3 June, a major initiative took place to collect rubbish both in and out of the water. EDP España joined the national campaign '1m2 contra la Basuraleza', through the organisation Oceánidas, involving over 30 different coastal locations. Francisca Nunes said, "EDP will continue to support initiatives that care for our planet and our ecosystems."
EDP's ambition is to involve ever more countries and support these or similar initiatives in different regions. We want to generate a greater environmental impact, but also involve more people in this cause."
Francisca Nunes, EDP Volunteering Program
Put Alcorriol on the map with EDP Energy
The town of Alcorriol, in the municipality of Torres Novas, was the focus of our 2nd Energy Week, which aims to take the energy of our volunteers to a region beyond the big cities to empower the local community, renovate spaces that serve the community and streamline various actions that bring everyone together, from the youngest to the elderly population. "After going to Alcorriol, it was clear this was the ideal location for the 2nd edition of our week full of energy. The enthusiasm of the people to make it a showcase, their hospitality... and the real impact of this week was even greater than I imagined," said Marta Bastos dos Santos, Head of the EDP Volunteering Program.
"These weeks are truly magical, both because of the impact we have in the local community, on its communal spaces, and because we are able to involve partners from the place and the Programme. We also learn about the culture, the customs, the gastronomy," the head of the program highlighted. In addition, the week ended with a round table, where local companies and partners, who also contributed with volunteers, joined EDP to discuss empowering local communities. In the end, "a group of 'very young' women from the village sang for us... even today my three-year-old son, who also accompanied me on the week, remembers the Alcorriol song," Marta Bastos dos Santos concluded.
"It was a week full of EDP Energy. 'Impact', 'community' and 'cohesion' were the words we heard the most in Alcorriol." This is how Francisca Nunes summarised the five days of Energy Week. After the success in Castanheira de Pêra in 2022, the initiative surely had to be repeated, and Alcorriol hosted Energy Week from 15 to 19 May..
To do so, it was necessary to coordinate the travel of a hundred EDP volunteers and a dozen partners. "This project took five months of dedicated work, with several social partners already involved in the Volunteer Programme, as well as new ones, to achieve the greatest impact for this community and its people," explained Francisca Nunes. This impact resulted in the renovation of a community space and a school, and also in several specific actions for everyone, from the youngest to the oldest, including recycling actions, energy classes, raising awareness for the environment, and the protection of green spaces.
Energy Classes for increasingly attentive young people
More than 2,000 Portuguese students, in around 80 classes, received a visit from EDP volunteers in 2023 for very special lessons. Energy Classes are also delivered in Spain and Italy, which were already involved locally in this action. The number of volunteers joining this initiative is increasing, often prompted by them having family members at the school where they are going to teach, or another connection. Francisca Nunes, from the EDP Volunteering Programme, also highlights that, in addition to providing the manual and kit tailored to the age group, "the most experienced volunteers like to share their tips and stories with those who are taking their first steps in this activity."
The Energy Classes cover age ranges from kindergarten to preparatory school, but the theme addressed is the same: the energy we need to have for the world and to protect it. The feedback from schools and students is very positive, because "they look at this class as an activity that addresses relevant topics in our daily lives, raising students' awareness of the importance of caring for our planet and living sustainably."
The numbers clearly show that, year on year, the EDP Energy Campaign attracts more volunteers, finds more projects and communities, and impacts more people. We Choose Earth, and there are always new geographies and new EDP organising centres. New ideas emerge and are developed to make the following year even better. The 2023 Energy Campaign was a success and preparations are beginning for 2024.
Marta Bastos dos Santos, Head of EDP Volunteering Program
1. With so many geographies in the EDP universe, it must be difficult to coordinate the different actions. Is there 'energy' for everything?
It's always challenging, but there's no shortage of energy! The truth is that, although there is global coordination, the geographies have their autonomy within that common purpose to carry out the actions that best meet both local needs and the interests of their volunteers. Accordingly, we have a large team, with several focal points in geographies that know their regions and their volunteers better than anyone else and without whom the Programme would certainly not be a reference for corporate volunteering. My sincere thanks to Francisca who works with me in Portugal, Mayra and Laura (EDPR EUR & LATAM), Esther (EDP España), Claudia (EDPR NA), Janaina (EDP BR) and Teen and Joëlle (EDPR APAC).
Francisca Nunes, EDP Volunteering Program
1. Does it continue to make sense globally to have these activities in the month of May?
Alongside the Christmas Campaign, which is also global, May continues to be a key month for EDP, since World Energy Day is 29 May. It serves to raise awareness of the need to pursue energy efficiency and energy saving strategies and to motivate people to do this, while also raising awareness of environmental impact and the importance of preserving natural resources. This is why all geographies agreed in 2018 that this month should be chosen for promoting different global actions with a special focus on Energy.
2. The slogan for the global campaign was 'take action for a greener planet'. When we Choose Earth are we also choosing ourselves?
Yes, this was an action that combined the well-being of our employees with the desire to make a difference on our planet. It was the first time, in more than 11 years of the programme, that we had all the geographies carrying out an action for the same cause, exactly on the same day. Beach clean-ups and solidarity walks and runs were organised. This action benefitted Make-a-Wish Portugal, an organisation that grants wishes to children and young people with serious illnesses, and to Plant for the Planet, an organisation that promotes reforestation actions as a way to combat climate change.