Hosting a sailing race which runs for six months, with nine global stopovers, hundreds of staff, and millions of visitors to our race villages, obviously comes with its own footprint.

We have a duty to operate sustainably and we strive to be a leader in sports, events and sustainability - testing new ways to produce our Race with the maximum positive impact possible.

Read about our efforts during the last edition of our Race in our 2017-18 Race Sustainability Report, and our Sustainability Reports for 2019-2020 and 2021.

Check out our 2021-2023 Sustainability Action Plan which details our ambitions, objectives, targets and actions. Read our Sustainability Policy.


Our Ambitions

Our ambitions for the next edition of the Race in 2022-23. 

Climate and Ocean

© Rick Tomlinson/Team SCA
  • 50% reduction in race organiser GHG emissions.
  • 100% renewable energy in head office and race villages.
  • Engaging our stakeholders to join us in the race to zero emissions.
  • Climate positive race, drawing down more GHGs than emitted.



© Jeremie Lecaudey/Volvo Ocean Race
  • Zero single use plastic in food and beverage service.
  • 100% of recyclable & compostable waste recovered.
  • 100% traceability on all materials recovery.



© Jesus Renedo/Volvo AB
  • Only 100% verified sustainable seafood served or sold.
  • Zero single-use plastic bottled water or beverages.
  • 100% materials traceability in event look and overlay.


© Sailing Energy/The Ocean Race

Producing a high-quality global event means there are currently unavoidable greenhouse gas emissions.

There is the necessity to transport our workforce and equipment internationally, and we use power in our race villages. There are also GHGs embedded in all materials and supplies we use, and in the treatment of our waste and waste water.

About our Impacts

GHGs related to The Ocean Race are either created directly by ourselves as Race Organisers, (year-round, race and event operations), or as a consequence of wider race-related activities, such as those by our race partners, race teams and their partners. GHG emissions are also produced by hospitality guests and race village visitors.

We have categorised our GHGs into the following key sources: Freight, Plant & Vehicles, Boats, Power, Waste, Production Travel, Hotel Nights, Food & Beverage.

Analysis of the 2017-18 Race GHG inventory revealed that just under 40% of total race-related GHGs are under the financial or operational control of race organiser and host cities. The remaining 60% of total GHGs are from activities by race teams, partners and hospitality guests of partners and teams.

Read more about our approach to GHG reductions in our Greenhouse Gas Emissions Management Strategy here.


© Ugo Fonolla/Volvo AB

Our ambition is to have all stopover's Race Villages powered by 100% renewable energy. This will be achieved through grid supply, renewable and zero emissions temporary power provision. Where 100% renewable isn't an option, we are planning to generate and bank more power than we use at other stopovers to compensate for this. We can also purchase renewable energy certificates or similar instruments.

Our head office in Alicante is on 100% renewable energy, provided through the local co-operative Enercoop.


© Marcos Shephard

Producing a high quality global event means there is a necessity to transport equipment internationally. We are actively sourcing local options and ways to reduce the amount of equipment transported.

Freighting (sea, air, ground) was near a quarter of our total operational GHGs the last edition. We aim for a relative reduction in freight GHG impact of 40% on the 2017-18 Race. Our global logistics partner GAC Pindar is critical in helping us with the most efficient logistics possible.


© Jesus Renedo/Volvo AB

Producing this global Race is reliant on an incredibly talented group of professional sailing, racing and events people. Whilst travelling people with the Race is unavoidable, we are looking to reduce our relative impact from air travel also by 40% from the 2017-18 edition.

This time we have two fewer locations, a different route, and siz months on the road rather than nine. So our reductions analysis is adjusted to a common baseline to have justifiable reductions. In 2017-18 staff travel was two thirds of our operational impacts.

During The Ocean Race Europe (June 2021) our race teams took on the measurement and ownership of their GHG emissions from race participation. Together we able to make the race climate positive, achieved through drawing down more carbon through nature-based 'blue carbon' solutions, than the race emitted. Find out more about this great project.


It takes a team

© Jen Edney/Volvo AB

With more than half the Race-related GHGs coming from Race Teams, Partners and Hospitality Guests, we work hard on recruiting these stakeholders in joining us to produce a Climate Positive Race.

We actively engage everyone involved in the Race to minimise their GHGs and to balance those unavoidable emissions. We we include requirements for measurement and reporting by our stopover delivery partners, teams and partners in our agreements with them.


Sports for Climate Action

How teams in The Ocean Race Europe took action for the planet

The Ocean Race, our registered teams and the IMOCA class have joined the United Nations Framework Convention on Clmate Change's (UNFCC's) Sports For Climate Action

The overarching objective of this initiative is for sport to combat climate change through commitments to measure, reduce and report GHGs, and to use sport as a unifying tool to drive climate change awareness and action among global citizens.

Officially part of Race to Zero, we're committing to 50% reduction in GHGs by 2030 and aiming for net zero emissions by 2040.


© © Amory Ross / 11th Hour Racing

The purchases made, materials used and food served throughout The Ocean Race are important examples of our commitment to sustainability, and our focus on environmentally responsible and ethical sourcing.

We focus our production, planning and purchasing decisions around conservative resource use, sourcing the most sustainably-produced items possible.

Requirements around sustainable purchasing are included in our agreements with host stopovers, race teams and partners, along with our own suppliers and contractors.

The design and manufacture of race boats is managed by the teams, however we convene a sustainable boat building focus group.

Sustainable Sourcing Code

Our sustainable purchasing decisions are guided by our Sustainable Sourcing Code and key areas of sourcing and materials include look and overlay (signage, branding etc), merchandise, uniforms, ICT, infrastructure, amenities, printing, supplies, and catering.

The objective of the Sustainable Sourcing Code is to focus sourcing on the most environmentally responsible, socially responsible and ethically-produced options possible. We require conscious consumption decisions for all purchasing by the company or purchases made on our behalf.

The Code offers a framework for those making purchases, to carefully consider the environmental and social impacts of their purchase decisions, and to make sure they reflect the sustainability principles the company and Race stand by and stand for. 


© Ainhoa Sanchez/Volvo Ocean Race

Our ambition is for food served and sold at our Race Villages and at associated events to be as sustainable as possible. This means considering each and every stopover and reviewing what ‘sustainable food’ means locally.

Food service is the perfect platform to promote sustainable food systems locally. From paddock to plate, we can highlight local sustainable farming, seasonal produce, and the benefits of chemical-free food.

Food can add considerably to an event’s carbon footprint, and so our aim is also to have climate-friendly catering.

We are reframing our approach to catering.

Our brief to caterers and food vendors is to plan menus to be: 

Vegan First + Sustainable Meat, Seafood, Dairy, Eggs

We want chefs and caterers to plan menus around locally available sustainable protein ingredients - rather than plan the menu and then search for the ingredients.

So they should be plant based first (ideally obviously seasonal, local, chemical-free), and then add available sustainable protein options. If these are not available then they should not be served, unless a culturally significant menu item is required.

We are also requesting at least two thirds of catering to be vegetarian. 

Working closely with Host Cities and caterers we will encourage or ensure the inclusion of locally-produced and seasonal food, organic, fair trade or other local and relevant sustainability protocols. Vegetarian, vegan, gluten free, allergies and culturally appropriate options are available.

Sustainable seafood is obviously closely aligned with the spirit of sustainability and the race, and we will work tirelessly to ensure that only seafood from sustainable fish stocks, harvesting techniques and with acceptable humanitarian standards is served or sold during the race. Where sustainable sourcing cannot be guaranteed, seafood will not be served.

Read our Sustainable Catering Guide.

Sustainable signage, look and overlay

© Pedro Martinez/Volvo AB

The events and sports sector globally uses an immeasurable volume of single-use, mostly plastic, materials to dress our live event sites, and there is very little in the way of stewardship of those materials on their journey from manufacturing to ‘disposal’.

Much of the material used for the branding, dressing, overlay and signage is not made from recycled content, not recyclable, or simply not recycled.

We recognise that as an industry, together we must find solutions to dress and message our sites and venues in a way that reduces volume of single-use, ensures full stewardship of materials to circular systems, and ignites innovation in sustainable materials, production methods, alternatives to business as usual.


  • 100% of branding materials are PVC-free, and sourced from recycled and/or readily recyclable materials.
  • 100% of branding to have an end-of-life plan that does not include landfill or waste to energy.
  • All stopovers replace cable ties with reusable bungees or other non-disposable fixings.

Innovation workshops

© Kristi Wilson / 11th Hour Racing

We gather leaders in sports and events and our supply chain, in Innovation Workshops, including one of the biggest uses of single-use plastics in our industry – the way we dress and brand our event sites. 

Participants in the workshop and ongoing working groups include the International Olympic Committee, UEFA, FIFA, World Sailing, The Ocean Race stopovers, Formula E, World Surf League, London Marathon, along with sports and event industry associations and critical members of the value chain such as materials manufacturers, designers, production companies, design agencies, recyclers, and innovators.

Find out more on Sustainable Signage Look and Overlay Workshop and Roadmap here.


© James Blake/Volvo AB

We work hard to make sure we can recover and cycle residual resources and we plan-in circularity wherever it's possible.

We're avoiding all possible single-use plastics and committing to reusable food and beverage serviceware wherever it is available and logistically possible.

Traceability is key, and we work with our stopover delivery partners for transparency of materials flow.

Single Use Plastic

© Oleg Breslavtsev -

One of our most important, visibly impactful and challenging goals during the race is to avoid single-use plastics in our Race Villages.

Although challenging and in some cases unavoidable, we nonetheless strive to find practical, effective and replicable solutions for each destination.

We know the extra effort needed to avoid single-use plastics will highlight this important issue and leave a lasting impression with spectators, guests, sponsors, host cities, contractors and suppliers.

Water bottle refills, alternatives to single-use plastic bottles, disposable food service-ware and other packaging are our key target areas. We estimate the number of single-use plastic bottles and other items avoided through our interventions, along with total plastic resources generated and recovered recovered for recycling throughout the Race.

In the 2017-18 Race we avoided 300,000 single-use water bottles through our water refill points and hundreds of thousands of other single-use items such as plates, cups, cutlery and plastic single-use handouts!

Turn the tide on plastic at sporting events: download the Single Use Plastics - Sporting Events Guide (PDF 31.4mb)

Reusables at Events guide: download the guide (PDF 2.2mb)


© Pedro Martinez/Volvo AB
  • 100% avoidance of single-use plastic in food and beverage service.
  • No single-use plastic water bottles and any packaged water.
  • No single-use plastic other beverage bottles where local deposit and closed loop systems are not available.
  • Total plastic footprint is 60% less than the 2017/18 Race average of 120kg per day.


Materials flow

Our ambition is to use recovered and renewable resources, and to support closed loop systems, feeding the circular economy.

Waste is a resource and event waste management a resource recovery exercise.

We think hard about the 'waste' consequences of every purchasing, logistics, creative, production and programming decision for our Race and Race Villages. The end of life is on the top of our minds.

© Pedro Martinez/Volvo AB

We place a huge emphasis on responsible resource recovery and we try to identify the end processing plan for all the major residual resources being generated. This often will mean everything to do with food and beverage service, branding/signage ('look and overlay'), boatyard activities, delivery's packaging and even our staff uniforms.

In the 2017-18 Race we were able to successfully collect, and send for recycling, compost 45% of total waste. Another 21% was sent for energy recovery. We estimate that 20% of the plastic generated was lost to landfill due to mishandling.


  • 80% diversion of ‘waste’ resources from landfill and incineration. 
  • 100% of all possible recyclable material to be collected for recycling.
  • 100% of all plastic collected is measured to enable plastic footprint calculations.
  • 100% of plastic footprint is offset through purchase of social plastic credits which divert ocean-bound plastics.
  • 100% of organic waste to be collected for responsible processing.
  • Zero salvageable food is sent to composting or landfill.
  • 100% of branding materials is recovered for reuse, repurposing or recycling.


© Alejandro -

During our race and event activities on water and on land, we understand that we take a role of being temporary stewards of the natural environment. This also extends to considering the resources consumed and waste streams created by our activities.

With our Race taking place in nature, our Race Villages located adjacent to waterways, and our focus on Ocean Health, it is especially important that we take steps to protect the environment from our activities.

We work hard to ensure the physical setting in which our activities take place are protected from negative impacts. This includes boat maintenance, construction and installation of Race Village assets, and our on-water and on-shore activities.


© Pedro Martinez/Volvo AB

Every effort is made to responsibly use the most precious of earth’s resources - water. We work to ensure our Race Villages do not overdraw potable water supplies.

Surrounding waterways are protected from pollutants or impacts from boatyard, event site development and Race activities.



© Sailing Energy / The Ocean Race

Our onboard, at-sea and race village operations are planned to ensure we meet or exceed any environmental regulations, protocols or best practice.

Sailing boats adhere to 'Rule 55 Trash', and we ensure all boatyard operations, any chemical use and cleaning practices are safe.




We take a direct action approach too, and with our partners, teams and cities we hope to have at least one local restoration project supported in each stopover.

Sustainability Framework

We organise our sustainability framework under three main pillars: Impact, Footprint and Legacy.

We have nine strategic aims to guide our efforts. These drill down into objectives, measurable targets and performance indicators. Dive into the detail in our Sustainability Action Plan.

ISO 20121: Event Sustainability Management System

Sustainability management of The Ocean Race is facilitated through the implementation of our management system, in conformity with the requirements of ISO 20121. This systematic approach keeps everyone on task, updated and actively contributing to the sustainability strategy implementation.

ISO 20121: Event Sustainability Management System is an international standard, to enable best practice in sustainability planning and delivery of events. 

In 2021, The Ocean Race was independently audited by World Sailing to confirm our compliance with the standard.

Global Reporting Initiative 

We align with relevant GRI Standards to report our management approach and measured outcomes and results. The GRI Standards are the first global standards for sustainability reporting. 

UN Sustainable Development Goals

Our Sustainability efforts align with many of the SDGs, and our focus on ocean health, climate change and plastic pollution focus align directly with SDG’s 12 Responsible Consumption and Production, SDG 13 Climate Action, and SDG 14 Life Below Water.

In our Sustainability Plan, Objectives and Targets we map our work to the relevant SDG’s sub-targets. View a summary of our alignment to the SDGs and targets.


Knowledge Centre

We produce many sustainability management documents, guidelines, reports and resources. We're very happy to share these.

Sustainable Event Management