In an exciting first—and joining six other world-class cities with long sailing histories—Hong Kong was host to the Volvo Ocean Race and summit on January 22. This was also the first time a Hong Kong yacht had won a leg of the Volvo Ocean Race! The fleet sailed into Victoria Harbour on January 20, led by the Hong Kong-backed Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag, and it was greeted by a carnival-like atmosphere at the Race Village at the Kai Tak Runway Park. More than 100,000 people visited the Race Village in the course of the festival.
As part of the race, the Volvo Ocean Summit brings together a range of speakers, industry leaders, sailors, NGOs and ocean advocates to showcase innovative solutions to the global crisis of plastics in our oceans.
The race and summit a huge success
Skippers involved in the Volvo Ocean Race have declared the famous event’s first Hong Kong stopover a major success as the fleet takes to the open seas again following an 11-day port call.
Victorious skipper David Witt said the experience had provided memories that would last a lifetime—and beyond.
Having the Chief Executive [of Hong Kong, Carrie Lam Yuet-ngor] visit us and so actively support the race will help with the image that sailing is for everybody. It’s been a fairy tale. Sailing is a great sport and we want to get kids out on the water and make Victoria Harbour their backyard.
—David Witt, skipper
Who better to talk about the health of our oceans than those who sail those waters? And what better city than hospitable Hong Kong to give the sailors a much-needed rest after navigating the Southern Ocean from Cape Town to Melbourne, and then sailing 9,340 kilometres from Melbourne to Hong Kong.
Hosting cities, spreading the word about ocean health
The first 2017–2018 summit was held in Alicante, Spain, moving on to Cape Town, South Africa on December 7, 2017. After the Hong Kong summit, Newport, California (May 18); Cardiff, Wales (June 5); Gothenburg, Sweden (June 18) and The Hague on June 27–28, 2018 will host. Altogether the race takes in 12 major cities on six continents.
Environmental pollution data collection
Dr. Toste Tanhua, Senior Scientist in Chemical Oceanography at GEOMAR, revealed ground-breaking data on the amount of microplastics in European waters gathered from the observation equipment on board the race boats. Recent data revealed that in Hong Kong alone, 136 tonnes of plastic bottles are thrown away each day. Globally, eight million tonnes of plastic are dumped into the ocean every year. If no action is taken, our seas will contain more plastic than fish by 2050.
(The Hong Kong Ocean Summit) events already have a proven track record for creating a foundation for positive change and providing a platform to share solutions and innovative ideas to the problem of plastics in our seas, something we will look forward to continuing during our Hong Kong stopover.
—Anne-Cecile Turner, Sustainability Programme Leader for the Volvo Ocean Race
Last November, the Hong Kong government announced that vending machines at government premises will stop selling water in bottles of one litre or less to help combat the global crisis. It may seem like a gesture, but with China’s recent decision to stop taking in the world’s recycling, it is more important than ever that Hong Kong drastically overhauls its recycling policies and the laws on plastic usage.
Key speakers at one-day event
A sustainable event workshop after the Ocean Summit brought together representatives from key Hong Kong-based businesses and groups to discuss ways to embed sustainability into their operations.
The event was hosted by Paul Rose, explorer, television presenter and Vice President of the Royal Geographical Society. Key speakers will include Stiv Wilson, Director of Campaigns, The story of Stuff; Tiza Mafira, Director, The Plastic Bag Diet (Jakarta); Oscar Wezenbeek, Managing Director, AkzoNobel Marine Coatings; Safia Qureshi, Founder and CEO of The Cup Club; Dr Ivone Mirpuri, Medical Advisor, Mirpuri Foundation; and Anders Jacobson, Co-Founder and CEO of Bluewater.
The success of the Volvo Ocean Race and 2017–18 Ocean Summit promises to put Hong Kong on the map as a sustainably minded city with the help of industry leaders and advocates passionate about the health of our oceans.
It is one world. And it’s in our care. For the first time in the history of humanity, for the first time in 500 million years, one species has the future in the palm of its hands. I just hope he realises that that is the case.
—Sir David Attenborough, naturalist, writer and presenter
At the Ocean Summit in Alicante, the Spanish Government announced that it was joining the UN Clean Seas Campaign. This is to be followed by a city-wide education campaign on plastic in all schools.
Cape Town’s V&A Waterfront shopping centre announced that it would stop using single-use plastics. Partner WorldSport pledged its commitment to sustainable event practices with the Volvo Ocean Race event being a benchmark from which to move forward.
About the Volvo Ocean Race
The Volvo Ocean Race Sustainability Programme and partners are taking action to prevent plastics polluting our seas by maximising our impact at host cities. The Programme aims to minimise the footprint of the Race Villages and provide inspiration for a positive legacy for the future health of our oceans. The Programme is also a proud supporter of the UN Clean Seas campaign.
Want to know more? Here’s a few stats to float your (environmental) boat:
- The Volvo Ocean Race is sailing’s iconic race around the world and the ultimate test of a team.
- More than 2,000 sailors have taken part in 12 previous editions dating back to 1973.
- The 2017–18 edition, covering 11 legs and 83,000+ kilometres, includes the first-ever Hong Kong stopover.
- The ocean is the racetrack of the Volvo Ocean Race and gives the Race a powerful and unique platform to explore the issues and solutions around the plastic that’s polluting our Blue Planet.
- As they cross some of the remotest oceans on earth, the seven teams competing in the current race have seen, first hand, the impacts plastic pollution is having on the health of our Oceans.
- The Race has developed a Sustainability Programme to educate, innovate and leave a lasting legacy to address the global crisis of plastics and Ocean Health.
The Volvo Ocean Race is about so much more than a premier offshore sailing race. It’s fun, it’s exciting, and it’s hopefully the platform from which to care for our oceans. Congratulations to the Hong Kong team for their victory leg, and for the city in hosting such an important environmental summit.
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Edited By: Adriane Rysz
Written By: Robin Clegg