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UN Sports for Climate Action | The Ocean Race Europe Signs Up

by Ingrid Hale
The Ocean Race Europe

Teams competing in the recent Ocean Race Europe supported UN Sports for Climate Action. They collected scientific data and looked at the benefits of cutting out single-use plastic, measuring and reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and engaging with world leaders about the threats to the ocean.

Whats the UN Sports for Climate Action all about?

The VO65 and IMOCA teams joined the UN Sports For Climate Action framework, either as individual teams, or via the IMOCA class association.

The sailing teams join a coalition of hundreds of sports events, teams and organisations from all over the world who are taking action on climate change. Through the Action, teams have committed to reducing their impact, promoting greater environmental responsibility and sustainable consumption, and educating and communicating others on climate action.

Lindita Xhaferi Salihu, UN Sports for Climate Action Lead said: “We’re delighted that teams in The Ocean Race Europe have taken this significant step to join us and use their unique platform to display climate leadership, help to make the critical issue of climate change mainstream within the sports community and encourage the industry to take greater action. By being part of the UN Sports for Climate Action teams are with us in the race against climate change, which is crucial if we are to have a healthy planet where people and nature can thrive.”

The Ocean Race joined UN Sports for Climate Action  in 2019, and has worked closely with teams to support their sustainability journeys. This includes helping them to track their impact through a GHG Emissions Tracking Tool that the Race developed for this purpose.

What’s the benefit?

The estimated GHGs for The Ocean Race Europe are approximately 250 tonnes, one quarter of which is the impact of the race organisers and the remaining is from race team participation. Along with teams, the Race supports a certified blue carbon project to restore mangroves in Madagascar, which lock away carbon and support marine life. The project draws down more GHGs than the Race produced. This helps achieve the goal of becoming climate positive and contributing to accelerating ocean health restoration.

Anne-Cécile Turner, Sustainability Director at The Ocean Race said: “It’s fantastic to see the efforts and ambition demonstrated by teams, not just to be more sustainable in their operations, but to use their position to drive change. We are in a race for the ocean and collaboration is essential. By joining initiatives like UN Sports For Climate Action and coming together as a sport we can show other industries and organizations what is possible.”

Taking it one step further

The teams were involved in other sustainability initiatives throughout the Race.

Leadership

11th Hour Racing Team launched its Sustainability Toolbox – a suite of guides, tools, and templates – that any organisation can use to put in place their own sustainability programme, to help reduce their impact on the planet.

Science

Several teams taking part in The Ocean Race Europe, carried scientific equipment on board to capture measurements of microplastics in the water and data about the impact of climate change on the seas. AmberSail2 and W Ocean Racing took samples of micro-plastics, while 11th Hour Racing Team measured carbon dioxide (CO2), sea temperature and salinity – all indicators of climate change. The data gathered is now being analysed by some of Europe’s leading research organisations to help in mapping and understanding the issues.

Meanwhile, winners of the VO65 class, Mirpuri Foundation Racing Team, captured air quality data throughout the race, in a partnership with EarthSense.

Engaging leaders

The high-level Ocean Race Summit Europe was held on 16th June to help drive new and improved policies to tackle some of the most urgent issues facing our blue planet. Annie Lush, from Offshore Team Germany, the winning team in the IMOCA class, provided insights into life on the high seas and urged for greater understanding of the world’s biggest habitat.

Ambersail 2, the first ever Lithuanian entry in The Ocean Race, organised a major environmental event, the European Green Course Conference, in Klaipeda, Lithuania to coincide with the Prologue event of The Ocean Race Europe. The event focused on sustainability and the European Green Deal.

Ambersail 2 also took part in Relay4Nature, an initiative to help drive action from world leaders to safeguard the planet, along  with 11th Hour Racing Team, Offshore Team Germany, AkzoNobel Ocean Racing, Mirpuri Foundation Racing Team, Sailing Poland, Team Childhood I and Viva México.

A baton, created by The Ocean Race and Peter Thomson, the United Nations Secretary-General’s Special Envoy to the Ocean, was passed between the teams during the Race and the prologue event, which collected their messages calling for urgent change. The baton, and its messages of urgency will be presented at key conferences including the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow in November.

Watch: Our Top Climate Change Documentaries

Read more: Ocean Race to Measure Ocean Data

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