Volvo Ocean Race, Ocean Summit, Anne Cecile Turner

Ocean Summit – Gothenburg

With over 300 attendees, the penultimate Volvo Ocean Race in Gothenburg hosted a robust line up of speakers setting a high bar for the final summit in The Hague. The event was honored with the attendance of the HRH Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden.

The morning started off with an early buzz through the crowd as Volvo Ocean Race President and new owner of the event, Richard Brisius, noted that “We will keep sustainability at the heart of the Race.”

Next, up, Jan Eliasson, former Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations and Chair of Stockholm International Peace Research Institute Governing Board, highlighted the connection between the UN Sustainable Development Goals 14 (Life Below Water) and 17 (Partnerships for the Goals) with the work being done at the Volvo Ocean Race Ocean Summits.

We were also thrilled to hear from Marcus Eriksen Co-Founder of the 5 Gyres Institute, setting the scene on the issues facing our ocean, and giving some early insight to successful solutions. Eriksen also recalled the work that led his organization to discover plastic microbeads in the Great Lakes – which eventually led to the United States bill banning microbeads from personal beauty products.

Charlie Enright from Vestas 11th Hour Racing, along with Dee Caffari and Swedish sailor Martin Strömberg, both racing for Turn the Tide on Plastic, took the stage to share their experiences throughout the race, and also their learnings from their own teams’ sustainability strategies as well as the Volvo Ocean Race sustainability programme. Charlie Enright shared some advice to fellow sailors around the world: “We’re in the process of calculating our carbon footprint, and so far we found that 55% of it is just from airplane travel. The good news is, it is easy to offset it with an online calculator.”

Another powerful highlight from the event came from Karolina Skog, Swedish Government Minister for the Environment, announcing that the Swedish Government has allocated €7.8 million to 15 global projects related to ocean health. The minister also noted that “we don’t need to sit down and talk about what we should do – the time is to act is now.”

The event was rounded out with remarks from business leaders and a promising commitment from Håkan Samuelsson, President, and CEO of Volvo Cars, announcing the company’s ambition to have 25% of all plastic in new cars come from recycled materials by 2025. Closing the event, Lisa Svenson, Director of Oceans for UN Environment noted that plastic pollution is the canary in the coal mine – warning us about other ocean health issues, and calling for sustained action to restore ocean health.

We look forward to the next Ocean Summit in The Hague on June 28 and 29th.

Watch the full replay of the Ocean Summit below!