14.03.2012 - Natural Sciences Sector

Race for Water: mobilising the public to preserve the planet’s ocean and freshwater

© Yvan Zedda / Sea & Co / MOD S.A Race for Water, the trimaran flagship vessel of the Multi One Attitude Foundation

UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission and International Hydrological Programme and the Multi One Attitude Foundation announced, during the 6th World Water Forum in Marseille, a partnership to preserve the planet’s ocean and freshwater through an exciting and innovative Race for Water around the world. The main objective of the partnership is to raise awareness among the general public about the importance of preserving the ocean and freshwater resources, using RACE FOR WATER, trimaran flagship vessel of the Foundation, to race around the world in the Multi One Championship.

The trimaran Race for Water will participate in several race events this year, starting with the Krys Ocean Race, a transatlantic race sailing from  New York on 7 July and arriving in Brest around 14 July during the Tonnerres de Brest, a fantastic gathering and parade of tall ships. Then the trimaran will enter the MOD70 European Tour, a competition around Europe with stopovers in Kiel (Germany), Dublin (Ireland), Cascais (Portugal), Marseille (France) and Genoa (Italy). The racing programme plans a World Tour in 2013.

The Multi One Attitude Foundation will install a Water Pavilion in the heart of the Race Village in each port of call, in order to draw the attention of the general public and educate future generations about water preservation, highlighting the role of UNESCO in this area both with respect to the ocean and freshwater.

The RACE FOR WATER aims to strengthen the links and share best practices with local leaders and universities, on the route of the sailing championship, highlighting the role played by UNESCO in sharing information; and at the same time developing media attention for the Foundation, its partners and for UNESCO’s programmes. Through a spectacular racing boat, RACE FOR WATER aims to promote innovation with universities by developing tools and systems to measure the water footprint and micro-plastic pollution in the oceans.

Additionally, the RACE FOR WATER flagship vessel could launch Argo floats during its journey around the world as a contribution to the Global Ocean Observing System (GOOS). UNESCO-IOC has been coordinating the international scientific community’s activities for the implementation of the Argo project, a network of autonomous floats that collect temperature, salinity and current data in real time. The programme aims to maintain a network of at least 3,000 Argo floats, over all ocean areas without ice-cover, to study ocean variability in the long term. Oceans change continuously and must, as a result, be observed constantly. A better understanding of oceans is needed to improve climate projections, reduce the risks stemming from storms and floods, steer international actions and optimized governmental climate change mitigation policies.

Gretchen Kalonji, Assistant Director-General, Natural Sciences Sector, UNESCO, said: “Water is vital for life. UNESCO’s scientific programmes with respect to the ocean and freshwater aim to contribute to preserving water through science in order to make sound decisions about its management. We are delighted to embark on this journey with the Multi One Foundation and to share our passion and knowledge with the public through sailing. With this partnership, we hope to encourage youth and coastal communities to become engaged in the protection of their ocean and water resources.”

As the international community prepares for the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20), we must keep water and ocean related issues at the top of the international agenda and promote a better understanding of the challenges ahead for the general public.

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