The international gathering will see representatives from the EU, Italian Government, regional, national and international businesses, academics, the sport of sailing and NGOs share the latest insights into the scale of the issue and provide inspirational examples of how businesses can be part of the solution to the ocean plastic crisis.
Staged for the first time in Italy, in the historic Porto Antico area at the Centro Congressi on 20 September, speakers at the interactive event include sustainability expert and author Dr Wayne Visser, EU Commissioner for Environment Karmenu Vella and Brian Matuszewski, Global Head of Brand Partnerships, Loop Global, alongside a host of businesses at the forefront of embedding sustainability within the whole of their supply chain.
The agenda will examine the impacts plastic pollution is having upon the Mediterranean Sea, future trends businesses can adopt in a move away from a reliance on plastic to a systemic, circular approach, and the role institutions and the financial sector have to play in this process. The half-day conference will also provide the latest examples of scalable solutions that can be applied to the entire business value chain and strategies to change consumer behaviour.
Italian Olympic and offshore sailor Francesca Clapcich, who sailed on board Turn the Tide on Plastic in the last edition, and US Ocean Race veteran Mark Towill will offer first-hand experience of the effect plastic pollution is having on our seas and reveal efforts the sport is making to reduce its environmental impact.
Anne Cécile Turner, Sustainability Director for The Ocean Race, said: “This first Ocean Race Summit in Genoa will see sector-leading speakers showcase cutting edge innovations and unveil announcements that will have positive outcomes for the lifeblood of our race – the marine environment.
“By taking our message to strategic locations, best placed to provide a roadmap for change, our aim is to challenge the status quo, provide inspiration and use practical examples of how to implement state of the art approaches which deliver impactful change that can benefit businesses whilst also reducing our impact upon the natural environment.
“Just as elite sailors must display courage, determination and show teamwork when they take part in our extreme global sailing race, everyone we touch through the summit series requires the same qualities if we are collectively going to succeed in meeting the obstacles we face.”
The summits – part of The Ocean Race, the prestigious round-the-world sailing race dubbed ‘sport’s toughest test of a team’ – will build upon the legacy of the series of seven global events held during the previous race in 2017-18, to show businesses how they can apply what they learn to meet the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Marco Bucci, Mayor of Genoa, welcomed the focus the international event would bring to the city and region. Genoa has a long-standing maritime heritage, is the largest port in Italy and has an economy that relies heavily on its ocean connection.
He said: “As a sailor, I’ve always cared deeply about the ocean and am concerned by the levels of plastic pollution in our seas. We have a motto that we want to leave the world in a better place than we found it and want every person to contribute towards this.
“Working with The Ocean Race helps us send a message to the rest of the world that we want to embrace sustainability. If we want to grow, environmental sustainability is key to our long term development.”
To complement The Ocean Race Summits, an Innovation Workshop concept has been introduced as part of the programme of events. These seminars challenge industry leaders and experts to find new ways of working on a range of issues that link their value chain with ocean pollution. The topics to be examined in Genoa are ‘Sustainable Fashion’ looking at microfibre ocean pollution and ‘Sustainable Boat Building’.
The race’s vital scientific programme to advance knowledge on ocean health is continuing over the summer as part of The Ocean Race European Tour, a series of summer pro-am sailing events around the continent. The tour boats will be stopping off at the Genoa Boat Show which takes place at the same time as the summit.
The Ocean Race Summits are a key element of the ‘Racing with Purpose’ Programme, in collaboration with Premier Partner 11th Hour Racing and supported by Official Partner Bluewater, embedding sustainability throughout the race. Additional elements to the programme include Learning and Science initiatives.
Jeremy Pochman, Co-Founder & CEO of 11th Hour Racing, added: "No matter where you live or how you make your livelihood, you depend on the ocean. It brings us much of the oxygen we breathe, the fish we eat, and helps regulate our climate. But our growing demands are taking a toll on our seas.
"The Ocean Race Summits provide an opportunity to bring business, sport, and government together to commit to the critical work that needs to be done to reduce marine pollution, and take bold new steps to protect marine and coastal ecosystems globally."
Five Ocean Race Summits will take place before the next edition of The Ocean Race sets off from Alicante, Spain, in autumn 2021, with at least five more scheduled during the race period.
If you are interested in attending or watching the live, interactive, stream you can register for free here.