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Sport and film join forces to protect nature, people and the planet

by GBR SailGP Team 8 Dec 2023 09:47 UTC
Hannah Mills OBE on Youth and Education Day at COP28 © Emirates Great Britain SailGP Team

The two most successful Olympic sailors in the world, Sir Ben Ainslie and Hannah Mills OBE are taking action to protect nature, people and the planet.

They have collaborated with Open Planet, an open source of footage of our changing planet, to call on other athletes to help empower and equip young people, educators and their schools with the knowledge to take climate action. Through the specialist sport-inspired education charity the 1851 Trust, schools are provided with resources to measure and reduce their environmental impact and take positive action. The collaboration with Open Planet and the 1851 Trust supports young people to use their voice to inspire others with their own climate stories.

On Youth and Education Day at COP28, Olympic athletes Hannah Mills OBE, Kenyan Olympic gold medallist and history maker Eliud Kipchoge, British skier Chemmy Alcott and Saudi rower Husein Alireza shared their own climate action stories to inspire young people to also take action. The new climate education resource, aptly named 'Use your Voice', forms part of a library of science-based climate education lesson plans developed by the 1851 Trust climate education programme, Protect Our Future. All teaching resources use climate actions of athletes and the global community of sport to inspire young people by using relatable role models.

Sport and athletes have the power to inspire beyond their pitch, and sailor Hannah Mills' pitch is our oceans. The IOC Sustainability Ambassador is taking action and using her voice to educate and inspire others. Mills said: "I love the ocean. It produces half of the oxygen we breathe and helps regulate our climate - but it's also full of plastic. I've taken action to cut out single-use plastic and to clean up our ocean and beaches whenever I can. We can all use our voice to talk about what's important to us, and how we are taking action to protect our future."

Mills is joined in the video by other Olympic athletes detailing the climate action they are taking. Olympic marathon champion Eliud Kipchoge is restoring habitats by planting trees, Olympic skier Chemmy Alcott has decided to consume less meat and consider transport options to reduce her carbon footprint, and Olympic rower Husein Alireza is passionate about saving energy.

Collaboration is key to meeting the world's climate goals, and the Olympic athletes' stories have been brought to life by using film from Open Planet's ever-growing, free visual library for educational and impact storytelling. The partnership with Open Planet enables free access to powerful footage and world-class science, so that everyone, everywhere can tell the story of our changing planet and drive positive action from others.

Colin Butfield, Director of Open Planet, said: "We hope educators across the world will use Open Planet to empower young people to tell stories that can inspire change and optimism. Storytelling has never been more important than in this critical decade for climate action, and now young people everywhere can access thousands of incredible, world-class film clips to help bring their stories to life."

The new climate resources were launched at The UK Pavilion at COP28 in Dubai, where Sir Ben Ainslie's Emirates Great Britain Sail Grand Prix Team will also be racing this weekend (9-10 December). The Team has welcomed 160 young people from across Dubai to its base for Protect Our Future lessons. The students have also been seeing what climate action each of the teams competing in SailGP are taking. Emirates GBR has taken action to incorporate renewable energy into its operations, by creating an installation that consists of 38 solar panels and two micro wind turbines that has taken the Team off-grid and produced enough energy to power other teams.

SailGP is the only sports league in the world to have a podium for sport and the planet, with teams competing to win the Impact League which tracks the positive action they are taking to reduce their carbon footprint and boost inclusivity in sailing.

Speaking after the partnership launch at COP28 in Dubai, Sir Ben Ainslie, Founder and Patron of the 1851 Trust said: "Climate change is happening right in front of us and the clock is ticking for people to take action. Athletes and sports in general have huge influential power and it's time that platform was used for good. Through the 1851 Trust and the Protect Our Future education programme, we hope athletes will help us to inspire the next generation through their own climate action. We are thrilled to have partnered with Open Planet giving schools, educators and young people access to their world class footage of our changing world."

Protect Our Future is a programme of the 1851 Trust, a specialist education and sports charity, supported by HRH Princess of Wales as its Royal Patron, committed to harnessing the power of athletes and sport to inspire young people globally through STEM learning and climate action. Their digital education platform STEM Crew, uses the real like context of sport to provide educators world-class STEM Education lessons, that link directly into the curriculum. STEM Crew is used by teachers in over 50% of UK schools.

The Trust's climate education platform, Protect Our Future, provides world-class climate education for 5 to 18-year-olds that is free to use and available globally aim is to enable schools to become climate hubs, and as well as providing schools with education resources, the platform also provides them with the tools to track and measure their own carbon footprint, impact and progress.

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