SailGP's presence at COP28 signifies its commitment to be most sustainable sport on water - GulfToday

SailGP's presence at COP28 signifies its commitment to be most sustainable sport on water


SailGP will use the sixth event of its Season 4 calendar to demonstrate the huge power of sport for good to inspire action and change mindsets.

Gulf Today, Staff Reporter

SailGP, a global leader in purpose driven and sustainable sport, will highlight its ongoing commitment and passion to climate action with the first of many Race For The Future takeovers at the Emirates Dubai Sail Grand Prix presented by P&O Marinas, taking place on Dec.9-10.

Held at the same time as the city hosts COP28 – the biggest climate change conference in the world – SailGP will use the sixth event of its Season 4 calendar to demonstrate the huge power of sport for good to inspire action and change mindsets.

In the dynamic world of competitive water sports, SailGP has emerged not only as a pioneer in technology and entertainment but as a global exemplar of sustainability. Founded by Larry Ellison and Russell Coutts, the league strategically integrated sustainability into its core values from the outset. In an exclusive interview, Chief Purpose Officer, Fiona Morgan, sheds light on SailGP's commitment to becoming the most purpose-driven and sustainable sport globally.

Q. How has SailGP strategically positioned itself to become a leading example of sustainability in water sports, and what key initiatives have been implemented to achieve this vision?

From the start SailGP based its whole business strategy on three pillars. As founders, Larry Ellison and Russell Coutts wanted to have technology, entertainment and sustainability as part of how the league operates. From that my role as Chief Purpose Officer was created and I am the only Chief Purpose Officer in global sport. So that is an example of how sustainability has been embedded into the league. It isn’t a nice to have or an add on, it is part of who we are.

We also deliberately set ambitions. We set an ambition to be the most purpose driven and sustainable sport in the world. We looked at our business operations and set big climate targets. We have a target of reducing our carbon footprint by 55 per cent by 2025. We didn’t just look at environmental targets either, we looked at social targets in particular gender equity and the creation of our Women’s Pathway.

At the Emirates Dubai Sail Grand Prix presented by P&O Marinas from December 9-10 as part of our Race For The Future takeover an all-female crew will train on an F50 for the first time ever, which is hugely exciting. We want a gender equitable league and to have an ambition to have a female driver by 2025.

Q. Considering SailGP's global footprint and the creation of race stadiums and fan zones in different countries, could you elaborate on the specific measures and innovative strategies SailGP is adopting to significantly reduce its environmental impact and carbon footprint at these events?

As a purpose driven and sustainable sport, we know we have to think differently about everything we do. The high-tech, high-speed F50 boats are powered by nature so we have to look at how we are powering our events.

We want our events to be run by 100 percent clean energy by 2025 and we work with partners like Aggreko on how we can make our sites more efficient. At the Emirates Dubai Sail Grand Prix presented by P&O Marinas from December 9-10 we will have the largest temporary solar array ever installed at an event, which is part of our Race For The Future takeover.

We also look at what we have on the water and the boats around the F50s and how we can make reductions there. We were the first sport to have a remote broadcast. Instead of flying roughly 100 staff to each event, we have an innovative broadcast hub in London in order to reduce our carbon footprint.

That has progressed to remote umpiring and remote coaching. Again in Dubai, as part of our Race For The Future takeover, we’re thinking differently and making the most of technology to reduce our on water fleet by 36 percent.

We acknowledge that we are a travelling global sport so we work with another partner, Kuehne+Nagel, on sustainable logistics. We make sure we are efficient with the shipping routes we are taking in order to transport boats and equipment. As a policy, we don’t air freight our equipment.

Q. In the context of sustainability, could you share insights into the collaborative efforts and partnerships with UAE-based organizations that SailGP has forged to ensure the sustainability of the Dubai and Abu Dhabi Racing events in this market?

Wherever we race, we work very collaboratively with the host city and, for the Emirates Dubai Sail Grand Prix presented by P&O Marinas and the Mubadala Abu Dhabi Sail Grand Prix presented by Abu Dhabi Sports Council, that is no different.

We want everything we do to be locally sourced, using local suppliers on the ground. We have impact projects and we will have a particularly cool project for Abu Dhabi but I’m not allowed to say too much about that yet.

In Dubai, we will have a fantastic series of events thanks to our dedicated community, education and outreach initiative, Inspire, where Mubadala is also a very active partner. Hundreds of youngsters will benefit from that in Dubai through its Learning, Careers and Racing programs.

To date 16,727 young people have taken part in the program and we’ve increased our ambition to engage 10,000 in total to 25,000 by the end of Season 5.

Q. SailGP has committed to powering all its events with nature. Given the ambitious nature of this pledge, what practical steps and strategies has SailGP employed, and how do you believe the broader sports industry can collectively advance towards achieving sustainability goals by 2024?

We’re a founding member of the UN Sports for Climate Action framework with over 300 global sports teams, organizations and leagues signing up to reduce their carbon footprint.

At SailGP we are massively collaborative. We are transparent and every year we publish a Purpose & Impact report so other sports can see what we are doing, learn about it and implement it, relevant to their own wants and needs.

We work closely with sports, such as F1, golf and other watersports, to share learnings. Our world first Impact League, which rewards and scores teams on their positive environmental and social action, includes a judging panel and on that panel are people from other sports.

Through our Race For The Future takeover in Dubai we want to collaborate with like-minded sports and utilize the power of partnerships to make a real difference to the world. Sport needs to think differently and embed sustainable action into its DNA. Climate action is a problem we can’t fix alone. We’re all in a Race For The Future and we need to act now, as there is no planet B.

SailGP plans to be the leading sports voice at COP28 and have a presence throughout the Blue and Green Zones. Chief Purpose Officer Fiona Morgan as well as athletes such as Hannah Mills OBE (GBR), Anne-Marie Rindom (DEN), Blair Tuke (NZL) and Jo Aleh (NZL) will all use their voice to inspire action. SailGP Transition and Innovation Manager Tom Verity will also present keynotes on SailGP’s decarbonization strategy in the marine sector at the Future Mobility Hub and Island of Hope. SailGP is partnering with Goals House, to lead a roundtable discussion with ROCKWOOL – title partner of the Denmark SailGP Team, focusing on strategies and tactics for raising the bar on sport and climate action.

Hannah Mills, SailGP’s Global Purpose Ambassador and member of the Emirates Great Britain SailGP Team, said: “Sport has the power to inspire people to engage with some of the most important causes of our time like climate change and the environment. The reach sport is able to achieve is unparalleled to almost anything else.

"Through its first ever Race For The Future takeover, SailGP is once again sending a message to the sporting world of what is possible when you challenge, innovate and act. It is showing what can be done in order to make that change happen.

“As an athlete, and a passionate campaigner and activist for climate change, it is something I want to put my name to and say that I am proud to be part of. If SailGP can inspire other sports to act by leading the way ‒ whether it is through their own Impact League or inclusivity or innovation ‒ then we can accelerate the change that is needed.”

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