World Sailing – Leading experts shine light on sustainability within sport

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7 Νοεμβρίου 2016
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8 Νοεμβρίου 2016

World Sailing – Leading experts shine light on sustainability within sport

Leading experts shine light on sustainability within sport

In the first of three open forums to be streamed live online during this year’s Annual Conference, World Sailing Chief Executive Officer Andy Hunt opened the forum on sustainability.

Focusing on World Sailing’s ‘Sustainability Strategy’ which was published today (, he set the scene for a debate that also included presentations from four key experts.

In emphasising the strong connection and affinity that the sport and its competitors have with the water, he described the scope of the strategy from minimizing the sport’s carbon footprint, to promoting research into the impact of sailing on the environment.

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Among the various details that were outlined, including the new Sustainability Commission (subject to World Sailing Council approval) which will bring in experts from both inside and outside the sport, he announced that the World Sailing Board will be investing 5% of all World Sailing sponsorship into sustainability programmes.

The first of the forum presentations from the four panelists focused on experiences from a different sport.

Responsible for reducing the sport’s carbon footprint and ensuring that the events leave a positive impact on the cities they visit, Julia Palle is the sustainability manager at the FIA Formula E Championship. In describing the way in which this new area of motorsport sport ensures that sustainability remains a part of Formula E’s DNA, she summarized her case saying, “The key is that management is convinced that sustainability is the future, if not we won’t be able to inspire people.”

Jill Savery is a sustainability advisor and consultant and was next to make a presentation. As the Head of Sustainability for the America’s Cup Event Authority at the 34th America’s Cup, she was responsible for delivering zero waste, carbon neutral and sustainable event activities. Her address highlighted the power that sport has to deliver the sustainability message as well as the way in which a wide range of sports were already making a positive impact.

“More people follow sport than science and this provides us with an excellent opportunity,” she said.

Continuing the practical theme, Sustainability Manager at Team BAR and World Sailing consultant Susie Thomson provided a wide range of examples of how the British America’s Cup team has integrated sustainability into its campaign.

From a new, innovative RIB, to a team base that is powered by renewable energy, there were plenty of practical examples as to how sustainability had been incorporated into this modern, high tech team.

One of the more unusual aspects of the team’s work has been in helping with an Oyster regeneration programme following the sharp decline of the mollusks in the Solent in 2013.  

The final presentation focused on how event organisers could play an influential part in the sustainability programme.

The founder of Blueshift Sustainability Consultancy, Anne-Cecile Turner is currently the Sustainability Program Leader for the Volvo Ocean Race and has developed programs for the Geneva Marathon, Extreme Sailing Series and a number of international brands. Her presentation began with some alarming statistics on plastic pollution.

“Currently we are putting 8 million tonnes of plastic a year into the oceans,” she said. “That equates to around one big truck a minute. If we do nothing it is estimated that by 2050 there will be more plastic than fish in our seas.”

Yet while the statistics and future estimates were alarming, she believes that the future is not about focusing on the negative side in order to inspire change.

The second phase of the forum saw the panelists take questions from the floor.

By Matthew Sheahan – Sunset+Vine

Five time Olympic medallist Torben Grael joins the discussionSustainability Forum speakers (L-R) Jill Savery, Andy Hunt, Anne Cecile Turner, Susie Tomson, Host Alec Wilkinson

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