American Express – Initiatives Towards Life Below Water

Our approach to CSR has always been to back the communities where our customers and employees live and work. We believe strong communities enable people and businesses to thrive, and we do this by investing financial and human resources in ways that address the social, environmental and economic needs of our communities, customers, employees, shareholders and partners.

Our business initiatives and programs are in line with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), in particular SDG #14 – Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development.

In Malaysia, our CSR focus and efforts are centered on the preservation of our marine ecosystems. American Express is committed to raising awareness on the impact of marine plastic pollution. In addition, we are doing our part to care for the oceans, coastal communities, and life under water. This has taken us to various parts of the country, east and west coast alike. At every location, we hope we have left beaches and reefs cleaner, saved endangered species while preserving the current ecosystem for future marine life.

We actively engage our employee volunteers and work with NGOs to restore coral reefs through building artificial reef blocks and placing them in the ocean’s bed at islands like Perhentian and Tioman. We have also undertaken initiatives in Cherating, cleaning up beaches that are home to turtle nesting and support turtle conservation.

In 2019, we embarked on a ‘Reef Rescue’ initiative where our employee volunteers worked to restore the coral ecosystem around one of Malaysia’s most beautiful islands, Perhentian Island in Terengganu which was under threat from increased marine pollution, decreasing marine life and the destruction of natural habitats. In partnership with a local NGO, Fuze Ecoteer, with dive centers, American Express employee volunteers built 53 bottles of reef blocks that overtime will be maintained and protected for coral growth. These reef blocks comprise of 5-6 glass bottles were planted in a 0.33m x 0.22m x 0.15m mold, filled with concrete, and left for 24 hours to set and harden.

Our team of divers (yes, a group of our employee volunteers!) then took to the waters to carefully place these blocks and fastened naturally broken coral fragments to these structures for them to attach to and begin their growth cycle. This becomes the starting point of an artificial reef consisting of bottle reef blocks, coral pyramids and nurseries that will stretch from the village’s South Beach to Petani Beach and will hopefully be the beginning of many more such conservation drives around these islands.

We also embarked on mangrove restoration projects in Kuala Selangor and Malacca as they play crucial roles in the protection of our coastal areas. To-date, we have committed over 4,500 volunteer hours, collected 4.5 tons of rubbish, planted more than 650 mangrove trees, released close to 400 turtle hatchlings, and built artificial reefs that will continue to grow.

These initiatives were planned and driven by passionate and committed employee volunteers of American Express Malaysia in partnership with local NGOs with the intention to foster collaboration as we look forward to make a difference and inspire change with positive impacts for many years to come.