Daniel Olivares is a seasoned advocate and communicator. Prior to joining Oceana, he served as an elected representative for Lima in Peru’s Congress. While there, Daniel championed important causes, including the environment and affordable housing, successfully bringing legislation into law. Before being elected to Peru’s Congress, Daniel was the head of digital communications for Prime Minister Fernando Zavala, where he led a large team charged with effectively communicating the government’s work to the people of Peru and coordinating communications efforts across all federal ministries. Daniel originally co-founded COPILOTO, a communications and PR agency dedicated to social impact issues, which is now one of the leading independent communications agencies in Peru.
Until recently, you served in Peru’s Congress. How was that experience? What were your priorities as an elected representative?
When I finished my term as Congressman, many wondered if I was relieved to no longer be in politics. But I actually really enjoyed working in Congress and loved representing the people of Lima. In fact, if reelection were permitted in Peru, I would have definitely run again. My priorities centered around securing citizens fair access to transportation and fighting for the rights of those with disabilities. But my main objective was to be in all the places where our citizens did not have access. To be present – that’s what I wanted to see in my representatives, so that’s what I did when I was in Congress.
Social media played a big part in your past political campaigns. How do you see that helping you in your new role at Oceana?
Before becoming a congressman, I was a communications advisor for politicians. The funny thing is that when I became a politician, I broke almost all the rules I used when advising my clients. I followed my instinct according to what I felt the country, and especially my constituents, required from me. It was all about connection and accountability. Now at Oceana, I’m working to inject that same sense of awareness to our team, especially on social media. Windows of opportunity to connect with our audience are getting smaller and smaller, so we must take advantage of them whenever we can.
What drew you to Oceana?
Not even Tinder could have made a better match. I joke, but when I finished my job in the public sector, I was wondering how I could continue to be helpful to my community. It just so happened that Oceana was looking for a new leader at that same exact time. Now I’m learning everything I can about what we need to do to protect our ocean and trying to be as useful to my team and my country as possible. I love it.
You joined Oceana in January, just shortly before an estimated 12,000 barrels of oil polluted Peru’s ocean. What was the impact of the Repsol oil spill and how did Oceana respond to this disaster?
I was only in my second week at Oceana when the Repsol oil spill happened. The first thing we decided was to mobilize our team on the ground. We were immediately at the scene of the spill, listening and communicating with the public about what was happening, and how the company was misleading the community about the impacts of the spill. It sounds simple, but the result was very powerful for Oceana. We were the leaders in defending our marine ecosystem from the beginning and that gave us a newfound responsibility. The impacts of the disaster, both environmental and economical, are still being measured to this day. We are continuing to collaborate with our partners to ensure that these measurements are accurate and used to hold the company and government accountable. We are also keeping the conversation alive in our local communities and in the media so that the impact of this spill is not forgotten. A disaster like this must never be allowed to happen again.
What Oceana campaign in Peru do you wish more people knew about?
We are campaigning to preserve the first five miles of the Peruvian coast exclusively for small-scale, artisanal fishers. This area is full of life and critically important to sustainable artisanal fishing. But industrial fishers and large companies are competing for this same space and threatening the very existence of our local fishing communities. From my first trips to the Peruvian coast, I learned that this area must be protected, or the livelihoods of thousands of artisanal fishers could disappear. One way or another, we are going to win this campaign. It’s just too important.
You co-founded COPILOTO, a leading communications and PR agency in Peru dedicated to social issues. How can strategic communications help Oceana achieve its campaign goals in Peru?
For me, communications is everything. There is no good policymaking without communications.
What is the most urgent issue facing Peru’s oceans? How should we address it?
The biggest problem facing Peru, not only in our ocean but in general, is impunity. Non-compliance with the law. While we continue to improve our laws, we must also ensure that they are enforced. For example, when you ask artisanal fishers about their main concerns, they talk about the lack of compliance with the laws that we already have, or about insufficient oversight at sea. In Peru, there’s a lot of talk about the need to strengthen education to better coexist. I 100% agree. But education is only one of two necessary pillars – the other is penalties. Education and penalties are two sides of the same coin necessary to change behaviors. Laws, as I studied in school, are agreements invented for us to live in social peace. That peace is the first step to function as a society.