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Volvo Ocean Race: Sustainability Programme continues to ride the crest of a wave

by Volvo Ocean Race 30 Jun 2018 01:45 PDT
The Hague stopover. Ocean Summit. 28 June, 2018. © Pedro Martinez / Volvo Ocean Race

The last Ocean Summit of the 2017-18 edition of the Volvo Ocean Race, in The Hague, helped develop a roadmap for future solutions to improve the health of our seas.

A range of announcements, during the two-day event, set a course for a healthier future for our oceans and the Volvo Ocean Race Sustainability Programme revealed its post-race plans.

Announcements at The Hague stopover included:

  • World Sailing launched the World Sailing Trust, a new global charity, chaired by Dee Caffari, that will promote the health of oceans and grow participation of the sport to protect its future, reinforcing the legacy of the race.
  • Alongside the Province of Zuid Hollande, the city of The Hague signed up to the UN Environment #CleanSeas campaign and set out a plan to make all plastic products recyclable.
  • World Ocean Council, an ocean industry leadership alliance, revealed the formation of a cross-sectoral business coalition to address land-based sources of marine pollution with a focus on microplastic.

As this edition of the race draws to a close, it was announced that the Sustainability Programme remains fully committed to the continued development of this global sporting event with sustainability, focusing on ocean health, as a central pillar to its mission.World Sailing launched the World Sailing Trust, a new global charity, chaired by Dee Caffari, that will promote the health of oceans and grow participation of the sport to protect its future and reinforce the legacy of the race

Anne-Cecile Turner, Volvo Ocean Race Sustainability Programme Leader, said: "The programme will use the Volvo Ocean Race as a catalyst for change to preserve ocean health. The objective will be to lead, inspire and engage through an even stronger innovative programme, combining sailing and sustainability innovation platforms designed to create real and tangible impact for ocean preservation, globally and locally."

To build upon the programme's significant sustainability achievements so far and to deliver global impact, it will take the sustainability practices to the next level during the 2021/22 event. Meanwhile, in the run up to the next edition, the programme will continue to organise a range of international Ocean Summits, further expand the Education Programme and continue to pioneer a Scientific Programme focussing on ocean plastic for a sustainable future.

In order to meet these objectives, it will continue to collaborate with a range of innovative partners, including 11th Hour Racing and UN Environment, to help deliver a lasting legacy and drive real change for a healthy planet.

Jeremy Pochman, 11th Hour Racing Co-Founder and Strategic Director, said: "The impact of our partnership with the Volvo Ocean Race has been truly remarkable, and we are honoured and inspired by this journey. It's been really rewarding to see our partnership with the race and the other sustainability partners grow stronger throughout each of the stopovers.

"Now that the 2017-18 Volvo Ocean Race is drawing to a close, it's time to review and reflect on our achievements, and to build upon the legacy we have created. We are thrilled to continue this collaboration and to further our support for the Sustainability Programme. Protecting and restoring the health of our oceans is one race that none of us can afford to lose."

Lisa Svensson, Director for Ocean, UN Environment, said: "Volvo Ocean Race has provided a fantastic platform for taking the struggle to defeat plastic pollution to a completely new level. Leaders in politics and business around the globe are mobilised and we are experiencing rapid change. UN Environment look forward to strengthening the partnership and taking the CleanSeas Campaign to the next level with Governments and the private sector."

During The Hague Ocean Summit, HRH Princess Laurentien Of The Netherlands, director of Fauna and Flora International, spoke about the need to stop plastic pollution and how educating children is imperative to finding solutions to the plastic crisis.

Volvo Ocean Race sailors Liz Wardley and Nicolai Sehested talked about their role as sailors turned scientists as part of the Volvo Ocean Race Science Programme. On stage, Dee Caffari, Turn the Tide on Plastic, Annemieke Bos, Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag, Mark Towill, Vestas 11th Hour Racing, Simeon Tienpoint, Team AkzoNobel, Xabi Fernandez, Team Mapfre and Carolijn Brouwer, Donfeng Race Team, reflected on the race and how we can improve the health of our oceans.

Karmenu Vella. EU Commissioner Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries and talked about the EU proposal to ban single-use plastics whilst Cora van Nieuwenhuizen, Dutch Minister of Infrastructure and Water, spoke about the Netherlands ambitions to have a circular economy by 2050.

Lewis Perkins, President Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute and Wendy Schmidt, President of The Schmidt Family Foundation, co-founder of Schmidt Ocean Institute discussed the role their initiatives are playing in shifting the relationship a range of key stakeholders have with plastic.

Break out sessions explored renewable energy, zero emission shipping, the circular economy and ocean management. Dr Luiza Mirpuri, of the Mirpuri Foundation gave a presentation on the impacts plastic is having on human health.

Paulo Mirpuri, President of Mirpuri Foundation, said: "It has been an extraordinary Ocean Summit and we were delighted to learn about other interesting projects that perfectly complement the Mirpuri Foundation's work on the perils of plastic and its effects on human health.

"It was with great pleasure that we heard that the Ocean Summits will continue beyond the racing cycle and this is an important legacy left by the Volvo Ocean Race. I'm also glad to announce that in May 2019 the Mirpuri Foundation will hold a Conference in Lisbon convening members of the scientific community from the best universities and research centres from all over the world. They will exchange information and research results with the aim of developing a better understanding of our knowledge base on this most important theme around the effects of plastics, microplastics and nanoplastics on human health."

The seven Ocean Summits in Alicante, Cape Town, Hong Kong, Newport, Cardiff, Gothenburg and The Hague, have already resulted in governments, businesses and a range of ocean advocates leading by example, making solid commitments to help stop the ubiquitous spread of plastic in our seas.

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