The Ocean Race brings together leaders for the Ocean at the World Economic Forum
During the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland, organisers of The Ocean Race – which includes the around-the-world race often described as the toughest test of a team in sport and is an ongoing platform for making a meaningful difference to ocean health – connected world leaders who are taking action to restore health to the Ocean, the most important place on Earth.
The Ocean Race brought the spirit of ocean racing to Davos to promote positive change in ocean protection and restoration with some of the world’s top business and political leaders vowing to scale-up their commitment to the race for the ocean.
Held under the theme “Rebuilding Trust”, the 54th meeting of the WEF (15–19 January), the annual event in Davos-Klosters, Switzerland, is bringing together over 100 governments, major international organisations, 1000 partners, as well as civil society leaders, experts, youth representatives, social entrepreneurs, and media.
This year, the meeting aims to provide a space to focus on the fundamental principles driving trust, including transparency, consistency and accountability.
On Tuesday, The Ocean Race Chairman, Richard Brisius, led a high-level roundtable co-hosted with Greek House Davos, to team up the public and private sector to support and scale up innovation, promote investments, mobilise scientific expertise, generate ocean data – among other aspects – based on shared resources, networks, knowledge and technologies.
The event highlighted and illustrated the role of the Ocean, and its connection to business and the wider economy, and showcased the relationship of the Ocean to global efforts towards climate change mitigation and biodiversity enhancement.
Among the participants were: John Kerry, United States Special Presidential Envoy for Climate; HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco; Dr. Dionysia Theodora Avgerinopoulou, Envoy of the Greek Prime Minister and Chair of the Hellenic Parliament Environment Committee; Jim Rowan, CEO of Volvo Cars; Ambassador Peter Thomson, United Nations Secretary General’s Special Envoy for the Ocean; Barbara Karuth-Zelle, COO of Allianz; Paul Simpson, CEO and Founder, Cornerstone United Holdings Jamaica; and Simon Fisher who won the last race with 11th Hour Racing Team, becoming the only navigator to win The Ocean Race twice.
The roundtable focussed on the need for a new relationship between humanity and the Ocean based on the recognition of the inherent rights of the Ocean, addressing the value of Ocean biodiversity and Marine Protected Areas, identifying measures for reduction of Marine Pollution, and highlighting the Ocean/Climate nexus and calls to Ocean action from business.
The roundtable event was also an opportunity to discuss the desired outcomes from two main global ocean conferences that will be held in Europe; Our Ocean Conference in Athens, Greece, in April 2024 and the UN Ocean Conference in Nice in June 2025.
“The ocean is a place of opportunity, where efforts in green shipping, offshore renewables, and other ambitious mitigation actions can make a real difference in fighting the climate crisis,” said Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry. “That’s why the Our Ocean Conference, which Greece will host this April, is such an important moment for the ocean and climate. This year, it will have been 10 years since we began the Our Ocean Conference, which was created to be one of action, not just talk. And we’ve delivered on that year after year.”
“At Volvo Cars we believe it takes a team to protect the ocean, one of our biggest allies in the battle against climate change and key to preserving global biodiversity,” said Jim Rowan, the CEO of Volvo Cars following the event. ”This roundtable was a good opportunity to discuss with some of the world’s most experienced and influential leaders on the Ocean. We support the strong work of The Ocean Race movement in helping protect ocean health.”
“After completing six editions of The Ocean Race I believe my fellow sailors and myself are witnesses to the threats facing the ocean as we’ve experienced the changes over the past 20 years,” added Simon Fisher, the two-time race winner. “But I’m heartened by the shift towards taking action. As an example, in this last race each competing team collected valuable data through water sampling (over 4-million data points in the last race alone) that contributes to ocean science. Through these kinds of concrete steps, we can use the power of sport to inspire others.”
“It is a privilege to have among us some of the world’s outstanding ocean leaders, supporting an important cause – the health and survival of our planet that is now at stake more than ever,” noted Dr. Dionysia Theodora Avgerinopoulou, Our Ocean Conference 2024 Coordinator and Chair of the Hellenic Parliament Environment Committee. “Marine biodiversity is under threat and so is climate, food security and the blue economy. It is high time that we create a team for the ocean. This is what The Ocean Race does, and this is what the Our Ocean Conference does. I invite you to the ninth Our Ocean Conference in Athens in April where together we will tackle the themes of ocean and climate nexus, MPAs, blue economy, sustainable fisheries, maritime security and marine pollution.”
“At The Ocean Race we have repeatedly demonstrated how we can successfully convene and connect the different perspectives of business, government, philanthropy, academia and civil society, and apply the lessons we have learned through our sport to the race to restore ocean health,” Richard Brisius said.
“At The Ocean Race High Level Roundtable here in Davos attendance and insights shared has been extraordinary and exceeded everyone’s expectations. Being in a completely full Greek House was outstanding and we couldn’t have squeezed even one more person in to the room. We are blown away and extremely grateful for the interest and the urgency shown from all who shared their experience and expertise with each other here today… All for the good of the Ocean.”
Brisius, who is a member of Friends of Ocean Action a unique group of ocean leaders, convened by the Ocean Action Agenda at the World Economic Forum, will attend a number of WEF Sessions this week on behalf of The Ocean Race, as well as speaking informally at various events that characterise the WEF in Davos.