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First in series of The Ocean Race Summits delivers in Genoa

by The Ocean Race 21 Sep 13:36 BST
The first of The Ocean Race Summits underway in Genoa, Italy. © Ainhoa Sanchez / The Ocean Race

Impactful solutions to address the crisis affecting the health of our oceans have been showcased at the first in an international series of Ocean Race Summits in Genoa, Italy.

Organised by The Ocean Race, the day saw politicians, academics, professional sailors and business leaders gather in the maritime heart of Italy, inspiring guests to take action for our seas.

A host of businesses, at the cutting edge of innovation, such as circular economy leaders Aquafil, Interface and Ambercycle, explored scalable alternatives for manufacturers to use to transition away from the plastic that is entering the marine environment.

Explorer Alex Bellini, recently returned from the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, and the World Wildlife Fund for Nature's (WWF) Stefania Campogianni, showed how widespread the plastic problem is in the Mediterranean Sea and the effect it is having on marine species.

Genoa's Mayor Marco Bucci detailed how the city is moving towards a more sustainable future as a week of climate action began in towns and cities across the globe.

To mark the climate strikes week, Francesca Ghio, Genovese leader of youth movement Fridays For Future, closed the conference, demanding decisive action to safeguard the future of the planet.

Anne-Cécile Turner, Sustainability Director of The Ocean Race, revealed that the round-the-world sailing race had signed up to the UN Sports for Climate Action Framework, making commitments to inspire others to take effective action too.

"We want to lead by example and by signing the UN Climate Framework we have committed to inspire other sporting events and reach beyond the sector with a message that if we want to protect our ocean and the planet then we all need to make our operations as sustainable as possible," Turner said.

The event was streamed to a global audience of ocean health advocates, bolstering The Ocean Race commitment to minimise the environmental footprint of the event as much as possible by encouraging people not to fly, and to follow via the live stream.

In a video address, Karmenu Vella, European Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, called for 'impactful action' to stop marine debris reaching the sea.

He said: "Events like The Ocean Race Summits are so important because they inspire, help raise awareness and galvanise action for healthy oceans."

Two-time Ocean Race competitor Mark Towill, with the 11th Hour Racing Team, and Olympic sailor and Ocean Race competitor Francesca Clapcich shared the stage to talk about their experiences encountering plastic debris in some of the most remote waters on the planet during the last edition of the round-the-world race.

The summits build upon the award-winning series from the last edition of the race and form a key element of the 'Racing with Purpose' Programme, in collaboration with Premier Partner 11th Hour Racing and with the support of Official Partner Bluewater.

"The colours, sights, and sounds of Genoa offer an incredible reminder of how our lives revolve around the ocean — in this case, the Mediterranean, which has seen history unfold and is crucial to the well-being of so many countries and global ecosystems," said Alessandra Ghezzi, Communications Director, 11th Hour Racing.

"The themes addressed today highlighted the local and global efforts to restore and protect the health of our seas. Simple, yet bold concepts, such as building boats without polluting our seas, businesses joining cross-sectoral collaborations, scaling innovative solutions globally, and a fashion industry that re-imagines its materials and processes to reduce its environmental impact. Using all of these concepts, and more, will empower us to stop the decline in ocean health."

Anders Jacobson is co-founder and CEO of Blue, the Stockholm investment company that owns water innovation leader Bluewater. He said Bluewater had put environmental care at the heart of its business mission with an emphasis on developing technologies and solutions that end the need for single-use plastic bottles and their mass transportation.

"As an impact-led investment company we greatly appreciate having the opportunity to explain why we believe today's businesses must look beyond shareholder profit to also embrace values around protecting the environment for future generations and dealing ethically with all stakeholders," he said.

To complement The Ocean Race Summits, an Innovation Workshop concept has been introduced as part of the programme of events. These seminars challenge industry leaders and experts to find new ways of working on a range of issues that link their value chain with ocean pollution. The topics examined in Genoa were 'Sustainable Fashion & Textile' addressing the specific issue of microfibers in the ocean and 'Sustainable Boat Building'.

Five of The Ocean Race Summits will take place before the next edition of The Ocean Race sets off from Alicante, Spain, in autumn 2021, with at least five more scheduled during the race period.

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