The world's oceans are the lifeblood of the Volvo Ocean Race, and as such we know that their future is in all our hands.
That's why we will do everything we can to inspire sailors, race fans around the world, partners, stakeholders, host cities and sponsors to join us in our quest for cleaner seas.
Our vision is that through our sustainability programme we can use the race's global presence to raise awareness of the very serious threat of plastic pollution.
We want to engage with our millions of Race Village visitors and vast digital audience around the world to alert them to the issue and inspire them to take action in their lives, their workplaces and within their communities.
We will work with each of the 12 Host Cities, striving to impact, influence and change views during our stays.
But most importantly we will aim to create a positive legacy that that sees a lasting change in world attitudes towards ocean health.
At our Ocean Summits we will be calling for action and commitments from local decision makers and business leaders to change the way we behave towards our oceans for good.
Young people will play a particularly important role in our sustainability programme, for it is these future generations that must continue our fight against plastic pollution if we are going to succeed in making the oceans healthier.
We invite schools and families to our Race Villages to learn about plastic pollution and what they can do to combat it. We also have an online education programme on Ocean Health and plastic pollution, which can be accessed directly or downloaded and used by educators in their programmes.
The Volvo Ocean Race offers a unique platform to spread a message of sustainability far and wide as we travel around the globe, but we also intend to set a benchmark for sustainable practices ourselves. Our sustainability message will permeate through every aspect of the Volvo Ocean Race, working to minimise the footprint of the Race Village, of the permanent and touring Boatyard, and of Race Teams, sponsor activation and even the manufacture of our race boats.
We will engage with Host Cities, stakeholders and suppliers at each stopover to ensure our event is staged with the least impact on the planet as possible. That means conserving water and energy, avoiding single-use plastics where at all possible and only using ethically and sustainability-sourced materials, products and food throughout our operations.
Part human adventure and part technological challenge, the 2017-18 Volvo Ocean Race will also be a scientific expedition – with a specific mission to gather data that will help make a meaningful difference in the fight against ocean plastic pollution.
Over the course of the 45,000 nautical mile (83,000 km) route, the teams will gather meteorological and oceanographic data as they race through parts of the globe that are often inaccessible to the world’s climate scientists.
The Science Programme is being made possible thanks to the support of Volvo Cars, our sustainability partners and a scientific consortium including NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration), JCOMMOPS (UNESCO-IOC), GEOMAR and SubCtech.
It is comprised of three elements.
Firstly, all of the racing yachts will send 36 data points back to race control every 10 seconds including temperature, barometric pressure, wind speed and direction. This data will be passed on to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the European Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecasts. Where it will contribute to more accurate weather forecasts and climate models.
Secondly, during the four most isolated legs in the race, all seven yachts will carry scientific-drifter buoys equipped with satellite communications equipment to transmit information on ocean composition and currents.
Finally, the Turn the Tide on Plastic team skippered by Dee Caffari, and up to two other boats, will carry instruments onboard to test salinity, dissolved CO2 and Chlorophyll-a (algae) directly in the sea water around them.
These key metrics for ocean health will be logged in addition to test trials for microplastics in order to create a complete snapshot of the world’s oceans.