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September 2022

Growing number of countries get on board The Ocean Race's journey for ocean rights

by The Ocean Race 23 Sep 10:56 BST
Cabo Verde´s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Cooperation and Regional Integration, Rui Alberto de Figueiredo Soares speaking at a high-level round table event hosted by The Ocean Race in New York 22 Sept 2022 © Cherie Bridges / The Ocean Race

With the UN General Assembly under way, The Ocean Race hosted a high-level event in New York to boost support for the adoption of a Universal Declaration of Ocean Rights by 2030, with ministers from Cabo Verde and Monaco and H.S.H. Prince Albert II of Monaco giving their support to the initiative.

The Ocean Race, the round-the-world sailing event known as the toughest test of a team in sport, and partners - including the Government of Cabo Verde, the Government of Monaco and Earth Law Center - are redoubling efforts to give the ocean a voice and gathering increasing support from countries around the globe for the adoption of a Universal Declaration of Ocean Rights by 2030.

Together, the collaborators hosted an event at the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York that brought together participants from over 20 countries and international organisations to discuss how to galvanise further support as part of the journey towards the adoption of a Universal Declaration of Ocean Rights. Participating countries included Italy, Portugal, France, Sweden, Singapore, Spain, Mexico, Palau, Colombia, Seychelles and Panama, along with key institutions in ocean conservation such as the Pew Charitable Trust.

Cabo Verde's Minister of Foreign Affairs, Cooperation and Regional Integration, Rui Alberto de Figueiredo Soares, said: "Cabo Verde stands ready to advocate for a Universal Declaration of Ocean Rights that has to be adopted and implemented on a global scale and with the support of policy makers, private sector, scientists, sailors and other key stakeholders. By 2030 the Declaration should establish a set of rules regarding the protection of the oceans and applicable to all countries in the world. The goal is ambitious but achievable as long as there's global collaboration at heart."

Cabo Verde will be a Race stopover for the first time during the next edition of The Ocean Race. It will also be the host of The Ocean Race Summit Mindelo, which is part of a series of high-level events to raise awareness and advance support towards Ocean Rights.

Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of Monaco, Isabelle Berro-Amadeï said: "The ocean is vital for our climate, for our biodiversity and for life on Earth as we know it. It is time we gave the ocean a voice. Two of the most prominent priorities of the Principality of Monaco are oceans and sport. We are proud of the fact that our Sovereign, H.S.H. Prince Albert II of Monaco - who also attended the event - is both an Olympian and one of the most dedicated leaders for a healthy, productive and protected ocean."

In a video message, Boris Herrmann, one of the world's best known offshore sailors and Team Malizia skipper, said: "Without the ocean, nothing would be possible. We clearly support The Ocean Race and partners in their work towards a Universal Declaration of Ocean Rights because the ocean means everything to us: it is our playground, our workplace and, for me personally, spending more than 100 days a year in the ocean, it is also my home."

Team Malizia are champions for sustainability and climate action and will participate in the next edition of The Ocean Race, which starts in January 2023 with their new newly built race yacht Malizia - Seaexplorer IMOCA.

Addressing the round table, Ocean Campaign Manager at the Earth Law Center, Michelle Bender, told the audience: "I would like us to think about Ocean Rights as an opportunity. Not just another regulation, but rather a framework that shows the world how society and life can look like if we live in the right relationship with the Ocean and the entire Earth community."

Kyla Mandel, TIME senior editor, said: "TIME has long been committed to strong environmental coverage, from featuring the Earth on our cover as 'Planet of the Year' in 1989 to our dedicated Oceans issue this July. As we highlighted in that issue, now, more than ever, it's vital that journalists continue to report on how and why climate change is disrupting our oceans, as well as how oceans can help mitigate further warming."

Marine conservation biologist and National Geographic Explorer Callie Veelenturf stressed: "Today we are in the midst of the sixth mass extinction and a zoonosis that is a result of an alienation of nature, and so I think it is clear that our current environmental laws and legal systems aren't working to allow us to establish harmony with nature as a society. We all need to ask ourselves what role we can play to move forward."

During the event, the Government of Panama spoke via a video message backing the legal recognition of ocean rights, with the Minister for the Environment, Milciades Concepción stating: "We believe that support for a global initiative to recognise ocean rights must be a priority for all countries in the world, including those without coastal areas that still benefit from ocean resources."

Senator Juan Diego Vasquez warned that if we do not protect the whole ecosystem "we are jeopardising our own survival," and Panama's First Lady, Yazmin Colon de Cortizo, stressed: "I think countries need to agree on policies and see the problems that are facing our oceans, including the pollution threat, the devastating effects of climate change and the deterioration of the marine environment. Working together we can reach consensus and achieve global goals."

Kristina Gjerde, Senior High Seas Advisor to the IUCN Ocean Team and Adviser to Schmidt Ocean Institute, said: "We are in an urgent situation where we need all hands on deck." She added, "The greatest threat to our planet is the belief that someone else will save it."

The Ocean Race Chairman Richard Brisius and The Ocean Race Policy Director Johan Strid wrapped up the event stressing the need to "move quickly" to bring draft principles on Ocean Rights to the United Nations General Assembly in September next year.

Participation and engagement at leading conferences is an important part of The Ocean Race's multi-award winning 'Racing with Purpose' sustainability programme, which brings together a range of tangible ways that we can have a positive impact on the marine environment. Working with 11th Hour Racing - the Founding Partner of the Racing with Purpose programme and a Premier Partner of The Ocean Race, The Ocean Race is holding high-level summits to drive global decision-makers to create policies to protect and govern the ocean, contributing vital data about the state of the seas to leading scientific organisations, equipping children with the knowledge to help the ocean and much more.

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