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The Ocean Race takes action for the ocean and climate at United Nations Climate Change Conference

by The Ocean Race 30 Nov 2023 14:37 UTC
The Ocean Race 2022-23 - 26 February 2023, Start of Leg 3 in Cape Town. Team Malizia & 11th Hour Racing Team © Sailing Energy / The Ocean Race

The Ocean Race, often described as the longest and toughest professional sporting event in the world, is at the United Nations Climate Change Conference, COP28, to call for the ocean to be a key consideration in the vital climate negotiations and to highlight how sport and business can help to make a positive difference for the planet.

The international summit, which starts today in Dubai, will bring together world leaders to work on solutions to tackle climate change. While representatives from member countries determine ambition and responsibilities, and identify and assess climate measures, the event is also attended by business leaders, NGOs and the public, to share solutions and accelerate action.

At COP28, The Ocean Race will leverage its experience working in the public and private sphere to call for greater efforts to protect the ocean, highlighting the ocean's role as both a victim of the damaging impacts of climate change and a climate hero that locks away the majority of heat and carbon dioxide generated by burning fossil fuels. The Race will also share how it is reducing its own emissions and highlight its initiatives to inspire action for the climate and ocean, including:

    1. Gathering data about the health of the ocean. During The Ocean Race 2022-23 over 4 million measurements across 18 types of environmental data were collected by teams as they raced-around-the-world. At COP28, Race Chairman Richard Brisius will talk about the Race's Science programme in an Ocean Climate Spotlight session organised by IOC-UNESCO and OceanX. The event will dive into the different types of data that were collected - including key indicators of climate change such as water temperature, dissolved oxygen and carbon dioxide - and how it is analysed by 14 leading science organisations before feeding into reports about the state of the planet.

    2. Driving support for ocean rights. The Ocean Race will hold an 'Ocean-Climate High-Level Reception' with IUCN, the Ocean-Climate Platform and the UN Climate Change High Level Champions, later today, in one of the first ocean-focused events at COP28. The Ocean Race will discuss its ambitious aim to help secure a Universal Declaration of Ocean Rights by 2030, which would put in place a global approach to protecting our blue planet with the ocean's right to thrive at its heart. The event will build on the The Ocean Race Summits - a series of events held on four continents focused on ocean rights, which culminated in a special event at the United Nations headquarters during the General Assembly in September.

    3. Slashing greenhouse gas emissions by 75%. A number of measures, including sourcing all power from renewable energy, reducing the number of staff travelling internationally and drastically reducing the number of shipping containers used in the global event, led to The Ocean Race 2022-23 producing 75% less GHGs compared with the previous edition of the Race.

    4. Urging increased action to protect and restore the ocean. Nature's Baton, the symbol of Relay4Nature, an initiative from The Ocean Race and UN Secretary General's Special Envoy for the Ocean, Peter Thomson, will take centre stage at COP28 calling for urgent ocean action. During the lead up to the 2023 race, Nature's Baton visited ten intergovernmental conferences advocating for the ocean, and was held by global leaders, before sailing around the planet in The Ocean Race 2022-23. It then brought the messages from all that held it, to the UN General Assembly in a special event in New York in September 2023.

    5. Engaging children around climate change and the ocean. The Ocean Race's Learning programmes have been created to help young people understand the importance of protecting the ocean. Set against the backdrop of the action-packed Race, the materials, which are free and available in multiple languages, explain how the ocean is connected to the climate and crucial to all life on Earth.

Richard Brisius, Race Chairman at The Ocean Race will represent the organisation at COP28. As well as supporting key initiatives such as the COP28 Dubai Ocean Declaration, the World Economic Forum Friends of Ocean Action of which he is a member, and highlighting how the Race is taking action, he will meet business leaders and policy-makers to drive support for ocean rights and develop collaborations.

Richard Brisius said: "We need world leaders to recognise the critical role of the ocean and put it at the heart of the agenda at COP28. But we know sports and business can make a difference too. Teamwork is essential to The Ocean Race, our efforts to protect the planet are only possible because of the fantastic network of teams, host cities, partners, stakeholders and many other ocean advocates that we join forces with to make a meaningful difference. By spotlighting some of our initiatives we hope to inspire other sports and businesses to use their platforms and take action as well. We need all hands on deck to fight the climate crisis."

The Dubai summit is the third consecutive United Nations Climate Change Conference that The Ocean Race has taken part in. The work to drive action to protect the ocean is at the heart of the Racing with Purpose sustainability programme, which was created in collaboration with 11th Hour Racing.

As a key pillar of Racing with Purpose, the Science programme has been extended beyond the Race itself in order to continue the collection of vital ocean data between events. The Ocean Race is providing expert support and science equipment to teams in other competitions (including the recent Transat Jacques Vabre), along with expeditions that go to parts of the planet where little, or no data, has previously been gathered. Earlier this week The Ocean Race announced it is driving an Antarctic science mission in which vital data about the health of the ocean will be gathered at the southern fringes of the planet including remote locations south of 70 degrees. As well as gathering data on key indicators of climate change, water samples will be collected and examined for tiny microplastics (down to 30 microns in size) - a level of analysis that has never been done before in Antarctica, marking a significant opportunity to improve knowledge of the extent of plastic pollution in this remote region. This comes at a time when Secretary-General of the United Nations, António Guterres, has warned about the importance of protecting Antarctica, ahead of the start of the critical COP28 negotiations. The region is of particular significance to The Ocean Race, with teams sailing through the Southern Ocean and around Antarctica for 50 years and experiencing firsthand the changes taking place.

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