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How The Ocean Race 2022-23 drove Action to Protect the Seas

The Ocean Race 2022-23 featured the most ambitious sustainability programme in the Race’s 50 year history, including initiatives that were firsts in the event industry and sports’ world, from efforts to influence global ocean policy to pioneering ways to reduce plastic on site.

Driving support for the recognition of the ocean’s rights was a central theme of the round-the-world sailing Race. Through The Ocean Race Summits policy-makers, scientists, business leaders, athletes, youth and ocean advocates gathered to advance solutions to protect the seas. Prime Minister of Cabo Verde, Ulisses Correia e Silva, First Lady of Panama, Débora Carvalho and Secretary of the Indigenous People Ministry of Brazil, Eunice Kerexu, were among the speakers who voiced their support for ocean rights, along with 30,000 people who signed the One Blue Voice petition for a Universal Declaration of Ocean Rights. The petition, along with draft principles on ocean rights, which have been developed in tandem, will be presented to members of the UN General Assembly in September.

The Racing with Purpose sustainability programme, which was created in collaboration with 11th Hour Racing, also featured the most comprehensive science initiative created by a sporting event. The fleet – arguably the fastest ‘research vessels’ in the world – collected over four million measurements during the six-month race, many from remote parts of the planet where data is lacking. This information will feed into major reports about the ocean and climate. 

There was a significant focus on slashing greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs), resulting in a reduction of over 75% compared with the previous edition1. More GHGs were drawn down through supporting blue carbon restoration and conservation programmes than were produced, making the event climate positive. Sailing teams, host cities, partners and suppliers were also engaged and supported to reduce their GHGs.

Meegan Jones, Senior Sustainability Advisor, The Ocean Race said: “Sport has the power to make a difference, and in this edition of the Race we have been able to inspire action for the ocean like never before. We set out not just to make our event as sustainable as possible, but also to use our unique platform to reach diverse audiences and champion the rights of the ocean. Along the way we have gained support from heads of state, helped thousands of children understand the crucial role that the ocean plays, provided valuable data to leading science organisations and pioneered new ways to host an event sustainably. 

“There has also been an unprecedented spirit of collaboration during this edition of the Race. Our work wouldn’t have been possible without the support of race teams, partners, and host cities. It has been the ultimate example of teamwork.”

Key achievements of the Racing with Purpose sustainability programme during The Ocean Race 2022-23:

• Over 4 million measurements were captured by sailing teams, in the most comprehensive science initiative in the sporting world
• 15 different types of data were captured including sea surface temperature, dissolved carbon dioxide and microplastics, along with several new variables, such as oxygen levels and trace elements
• Innovative methods were successfully trialled, including eDNA sampling to test ocean biodiversity
• 14 autonomous drifting buoys were deployed in the southern hemisphere 
• 13 science organisations across the world are analysing the data, which feeds into crucial reports that inform critical decisions about global environmental policy
• A new science platform for exploring the data launched:

• 30,000 people signed the One Blue Voice petition calling for a Universal Declaration of Ocean Rights 
• 108,500 people visited the One Blue Voice Immersive Experience in Ocean Live Park (the site in each host city where visitors got to experience the Race firsthand) to discover the race to protect the ocean

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