The programme is one of three projects in the running to be crowned at an awards ceremony to be held during the boot Düsseldorf International Boat Show.
The innovative campaign combined scientific endeavour with a global sailing event whilst also educating millions of people on the issues and solutions to the ocean plastic crisis.
It increased understanding of the impacts plastic pollution is having on ocean health through the collection of crucial scientific data as the boats raced around the world.
The programme has already won in the ‘Sports CSR Campaign of the Year’ category at the International Sports Awards and in the ‘Best Corporate Campaign or Initiative in Sport for Good’ category at the Beyond Sport Awards.
Anne-Cécile Turner, Sustainability Programme Leader, said: “The internationally collaborative Science Programme enabled us to achieve the objectives of educating, innovating and leaving a lasting legacy.
“Being shortlisted for such a prestigious award bears testament to the hard work and dedication of so many people involved in the race from the sailors and scientists to the countless others who shared our vision.”
An expert scientific consortium, funded by Volvo Cars, used cutting edge technology to build state of the art equipment to capture the most relevant ocean data.
This included information on the global spread of microplastics, how a changing climate is affecting ocean health and, through the deployment of drifter buoys, ways oceanographic data can improve our understanding of the link between the ocean and weather patterns.
The microplastic data will be used to contribute to the development of an internationally standardised process for ocean sampling and analysis.
The scientific analysis was spearheaded by GEOMAR Institute for Ocean Research in Kiel, Germany, funded by the Cluster of Excellence Future Ocean.
The data has been uploaded to a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) database where scientists are able to access it open source.
Other oceanographic data is being utilised by the World Meteorological Organisation and UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission.
Dr. Toste Tanhua, of GEOMAR, said: “This body of work is advancing the scientific community’s knowledge of the state of our oceans’ health as we seek to understand the scale of the problems and collectively develop a roadmap for its restoration.”
After the Turn the Tide on Plastic and team AkzoNobel boats collected seawater samples, 86 in total during the race, they were analysed for microplastic concentrations in the GEOMAR laboratory using a powerful Raman spectrophotometer. Studies found 93% of those analysed contained levels of the particles.
Stuart Templar, Head of Sustainability, Volvo Cars, said: “Volvo Cars is proud to have supported the Science Programme, which has produced an unprecedented picture of the health of our oceans. In particular, this clearly shows the extent of the global problem of micro-plastic pollution.
" Decisive action needs to be taken, including by business. That is why Volvo Cars has made a number of pledges during the Race, including removing single use plastic by the end of 2019 and ensuring that at least 25% of the plastic in new Volvos is made from recycled material by 2025.”
Todd McGuire, 11th Hour Racing Program Director: “It is wonderful to see how the Science Program is gaining international recognition and applause, extending the legacy and vision of the race in relation to plastic pollution and ocean health.
“Utilizing sport to gather important scientific data is quite a novel concept, and the work carried out by the teams involved in the Volvo Ocean Race is helping fill a critical gap of information in very remote areas which would be otherwise difficult and very costly for scientific surveys to reach. Moreover, it is important to highlight that the data collected by these samplings is shared with international open-source databases. We are proud to support these efforts that align with the mission and strategy of 11th Hour Racing, which is highly invested in solutions, innovation and positive impact.”
The Ocean Tribute Award jury consists of respected experts from the scientific, industrial and trade fair communities and is backed by the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation and the German Ocean Foundation
The Award categories were open to high-impact projects that lead to substantial improvements in ocean and water quality.
The Science Programme formed part of a broader Sustainability Programme, in collaboration with Founding Principal Sustainability Partner 11th Hour Racing, Principal Partner the Mirpuri Foundation, and our other main partners, Volvo, AkzoNobel, Bluewater, Stena Recycling and Ocean Family Foundation.