The Ocean Race Summit Seychelles calls on world to protect the ocean

World leaders, ministers, sailors, scientists and ocean advocates gathered in the Seychelles today to call for greater global action and collaboration to protect the ocean.

Mr. Wavel Ramkalawan, President of the Republic of the Seychelles, spoke about his concern for the ocean, its vital role in sustaining all life on Earth and the need to unite in taking urgent action to protect it: “The survival of this planet depends on each one of us pulling together exactly as the participants in The Ocean Race do. It is teamwork that will ensure the survival of our planet.”

Group of people on stage, sitting and talking.
The Ocean Race Summit Seychelles, 21 March 2021. Pic – Freelens Productions

The President praised female leaders in conservation and youth, who are striving to protect the seas. He also spoke about how the country is leading the way in taking action: “The Seychelles is punching above its weight. Small as we are, we are protecting 30 per cent of our ocean. We are committed to protecting the ocean, but we cannot do it alone. We ask the world to join us in saving our ocean and saving our planet.”

The Ocean Race Summit Seychelles was held in the country to reflect the vital role that island nations – also known as Big Ocean States – at the forefront of the climate crisis can play in driving awareness and action. A key theme that emerged from the Summit was a greater need for collaboration, with island nations, and others, reinforcing that they alone cannot protect the ocean.

The Honourable Mia Amor Mottley, Prime Minister of Barbados, who spoke about developing blue economy legislation to revolutionise the way Barbados engages with the ocean, said: “Our relationship with the marine environment can no longer be extractive or parasitic. We must work hard, just as hard for our oceans, as they work for us. Our small island developing nations cannot do it alone. It is go time, and this is the decade of action, collective action, immediate action, individual action and ultimately global action, we must reverse the tide and yes we must do it now.”

The Right Honourable Patricia Scotland, Commonwealth Secretary General spoke about how commonwealth countries are leading the way in ocean protection and also highlighted the need for the world to unite. She said: “The ocean sustains life on earth but remains the most undervalued, under researched and recklessly exploited natural wonder of the planet. The ocean is both a vital tool in our fight against climate change and disproportionately affected by climate change. Only collective action will protect our ocean.”

Danny Faure, Former President of Seychelles and Founder Danny Faure Foundation said: “We all recognise and value the interconnectedness of the ocean and socio-economic, indeed human, development. It is imperative that we attain equilibrium between effective ocean conservation and the sustainable development of our marine resources. More needs to be done to accelerate efforts to protect the health of the ocean and we are running out of time.

“Small island states like Seychelles risk losing everything if global action is not amplified – our livelihoods, our homes, and our hope for a safer, more just and sustainable future for our children and theirs.”

Fleet on two-sail reach. Helicopter flying above.
Genova Coastal Race, The Ocean Race Europe, June 2021. Pic – Sailing Energy/The Ocean Race

The Summit was organised by The Ocean Race, the world’s toughest test of a team in sport and an industry leader in sustainability, and 11th Hour Racing, an international organisation that mobilises sailing, maritime and coastal communities with an innovative approach to inspire solutions for the ocean. Held in collaboration with the Danny Faure Foundation and hosted by the Republic of the Seychelles, The Summit sought to address the lack of governance and protection for our seas, the impact of climate change on the ocean and examine whether the ocean should be given rights.

Addressing the Summit, Richard Brisius, Race Chairman of The Ocean Race said: “As a sailor you get this special bond with the ocean. In sport we like fair play and fair rules, but there is no fair play for the ocean. We need sharper governance and management, which we can create through a Universal Declaration of Ocean Rights – a rule book that allows the ocean to thrive. If this is enabled we will see a paradigm shift for ocean conservation.”

“We are delighted to be in the Seychelles, a country of ocean guardians that is leading the way in protecting our blue planet.”

On the idea of ocean rights, Nainoa Thompson, President, Polynesian Voyaging Society said: “What’s more important than the question about should the ocean have rights? The bigger question: should children have rights to a future that’s good enough for them. If you don’t protect the ocean, you take away their rights.”

The Summit featured leading voices from the Seychelles alongside global perspectives, with experts from government, science, industry, NGOs and sailing, it also gave a platform to youth voices.

The event is part of a series of 12 Summits, which has been developed in collaboration with 11th Hour Racing, a Premier Partner of The Ocean Race and Founding Partner of the Racing with Purpose sustainability programme.

The series explores the idea of giving the ocean rights in order to create a collective global effort to protect the seas. The concept can only be realised if ocean rights are embraced at a global scale, which is why The Ocean Race is working to gather support and momentum with key decision-makers and ocean advocates. Through collaborative action The Ocean Race is building towards an ambitious goal of driving a Universal Declaration of Ocean Rights. 

Todd McGuire, Managing Director of 11th Hour Racing, was at the event and observed: “If I take away one word from this Summit, it is ‘opportunity’.  What we’re accomplishing with the summits is to connect athletes, science, policymakers, governments, media and NGOs together in this effort to create a Universal Declaration of Ocean Rights.” 

Relay4Nature, the initiative developed by The Ocean Race in collaboration with UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for the Ocean Peter Thomson to champion the ocean and give it a voice on the world stage, also featured at the event. Symbolised by Nature’s Baton, Relay4Nature creates a ‘blue thread’ between the major events where decisions about the environment are made and collects messages along the way about the urgent action that world leaders need to take.

Passing on batton in front of pool.
Nature’s Baton at The Ocean Race Summit Seychelles, 21 March 2021. Pic – Freelens Productions

Following its appearance at COP26 and the One Ocean Summit, Ambassador Thomson brought Nature’s Baton to the Seychelles, where it was handed to President Ramkalawan, before it was passed the baton to young Seychellois ocean advocates who addressed the Summit and pledged to safeguard the seas.

The Ocean Race Summit Seychelles, was hosted by renowned television presenter and science communicator Danni Washington and focused on solutions and showcasing inspiring examples of how the country has sought to address the threats to the marine world.

Ulysse Nardin, the pioneering Swiss watch manufacturer that has strong links to the maritime world is the ‘Time to Act Partner’ of The Ocean Race Summits. The series started as a stand-alone event during the 2014-15 edition of the Race and has become one of the most important elements of The Ocean Race’s sustainability programme. The frequency of the Summits, which support the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG14), has increased to reflect that there is no time to waste in tackling the threats to our blue planet.

For more information on The Ocean Race, see: https://www.theoceanrace.com/

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