22 Oct 2017 Press release Oceans & seas

Volvo Ocean Race crew set to sail against marine plastic

October 22, 2017 – The annual Volvo Ocean race will kick off in Alicante, Spain this year with one very special team competing: team “Turn the Tide on Plastic’, will be racing in the world’s longest and toughest professional sporting event to raise awareness on the growing menace of marine plastic in the world’s oceans.

The youngest and only mixed crew ever to compete in the race’s 45-year history, ‘Turn the Tide on Plastic’ will battle it out against six other Volvo Ocean 65 class race boats across four of the world’s five oceans, helping to raise urgent attention to the plastic waste ending up in our oceans and killing or contaminating precious marine life.

It is estimated that more than 8 million tonnes of plastic ends up in the oceans each year - the equivalent of emptying a garbage truck of plastic every minute. Plastic waste is wreaking havoc on marine wildlife, fisheries and tourism, and causing at least $8 billion of damage to marine ecosystems.

UN Environment’s #CleanSeas campaign on marine plastics is calling on governments, industry and citizens to end the excessive, wasteful usage of single-use plastic and to eliminate microplastics in cosmetics by the year 2022. So far 32 countries have joined the campaign.

"The adventurers taking part in the Volvo Ocean Race will be making their way to some of the most remote and hostile corners of the globe. But the ugly truth is that they'll also be encountering lumps of polystyrene along with icebergs, precious marine life that is feeding on plastic mixed up with plankton, or huge islands of floating plastic," said Erik Solheim, head of UN Environment.

"This is a global problem and a global shame, and we're grateful to have the support of the Turn the Tide on Plastic crew to take this message far and wide. We need urgent, concrete action at all levels and all around the world. If not, we'll see our oceans turned into a lifeless slurry of garbage."

Record-breaking British skipper Dee Caffari, the first woman to sail solo, non-stop, around the world in both directions, will stand at the helm of ‘Turn the Tide on Plastic’ . She is joined by a 14-person crew representing some of the world’s most talented off-shore racers coming from across the globe.

“I feel very privileged to carry UN Environment’s message in this campaign. It’s a topic that engages a great many people and, by taking small steps in the right direction, I think in the end we can make a big difference,” said Caffari.

“I’m proud to be leading the first ever mixed crew with such a strong message of sustainability and diversity. As sailors, we are the voice of the sea and our goal is to spread the message of #CleanSeas and inspire lasting actions in parallel with producing results at the end of the race.”

The 2017-18 Volvo Ocean Race will take the teams 45,000 nautical miles around the globe, across four oceans, six continents and 12 landmark host cities, finishing in June 2018. Alicante will be the first of seven cities to host an Ocean Summit, bringing together political, business and science leaders to find lasting solutions to marine pollution.

The race legs include: Alicante, Spain; Lisbon, Portugal; Cape Town, South Africa; Melbourne, Australia; Hong Kong and Guangzhou, China; Auckland, New Zealand; Itajaí, Brazil; Newport, United States; Cardiff, Wales; Gothenburg, Sweden; and The Hague, Netherlands.

UN Environment’s #CleanSeas campaign is also partnering with 11th Hour Racing, a programme of The Schmidt Family Foundation and founding principal partner of the Volvo Ocean Race sustainability programme, to raise awareness about marine plastic litter and to help restore and protect our oceans for future generations.

As part of the #CleanSeas campaign, UN Environment has partnered with the Plastic Soup Foundation to develop the “My Little Plastic Footprint” app. The app, which challenges people to reduce their own plastic footprints, will be launched during the Ocean Summit in Alicante.


Interviews, photos and video        
UN Environment can facilitate interviews and access to the highest quality multimedia material at any time throughout the event, including pre-race interviews with the ‘Turn the Tide on Plastic’ crew, live updates from the boat and crew interviews during the race. The boat has a dedicated OnBoard Reporter (OBR) who will be generating daily video and photos for editorial use. UN Environment can also offer interviews with scientific experts on marine litter and its impact on our oceans.

Volvo Ocean Race

For full details on the Volvo Ocean Race visit: www.volvooceanrace.com  

About UN Environment      
UN Environment is the leading global voice on the environment. It provides leadership and encourages partnership in caring for the environment by inspiring, informing, and enabling nations and peoples to improve their quality of life without compromising that of future generations. UN Environment works with governments, the private sector, the civil society and with other UN entities and international organizations across the world.

About #CleanSeas   
Launched at the Economist World Ocean Summit in Bali, UN Environment’s #CleanSeas campaign is urging governments to pass plastic reduction policies; targeting industry to minimize plastic packaging and redesign products; and calling on consumers to change their throwaway habits before irreversible damage is done to our seas. cleanseas.org