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CLIMATE ACTION PROGRAMME

7 December 2017

Vestas 11th Hour Racing helps Cape Town overcome water challenges

Vestas 11th Hour Racing sailing team has awarded a grant of $10,000 to an environmental organisation in Cape Town to help the city overcome the water availability challenges posed by the longest drought in the history of the region.

As it has pledged to become the most sustainable team during the Volvo Ocean Race, Vestas 11th Hour Racing has set up an inclusive sustainability strategy which guides every aspect of the race.

To further this mission, it is meeting with local non-profits in each host city to learn more about local environmental challenges and each organisation’s activities and it will award a grant of $10,000 to support this work.

This week, the sailing team arrived at the race’s third stop in Cape Town, South Africa.

As the team explains, despite having sailed 7,000 miles in the middle of the ocean their “access to fresh water was more consistent than what is available to many in Cape Town”.

Since 2015, Cape Town has been going through the most severe drought in its history. In recent years, the city and its surrounding area have been coping with limited water resources, often facing the challenge of having to choose where to best allocate this valuable resource.

With the water crisis in mind, the team identified Environmental Monitoring Group (EMG), an independent non-profit environmental organisation covering a broad range of topics around environmental protection and natural resources.

The organisation’s field of work includes fair trade farming, sustainable rural development, raising awareness and making recommendations on climate adaptation in the region, including equitable access to water and social justice.

Stephen Law, Director of the Environmental Monitoring Group said: “Cape Town and, in fact, the largest part of the western part of the country is gripped with probably the most severe drought that we have ever experienced”.  

“There’s no doubt that we will survive the drought and the rain will come again, but we need to look at it as an opportunity to learn lessons about what we need to do in order to build communities that are resilient to these kind of disasters.”

“At EMG, we are working with communities to reconnect with the value of water and respect for this resource. Discussing not only the best ways to conserve and reuse water, but looking to the future and asking if we should be changing the priorities of water use from swimming pools and green lawns to drinking water for all and water for local farming”, he added.

Sailors from Vestas 11th Hour Racing, along with their partners from 11th Hour Racing, Bluewater and staff from the Volvo Ocean Race visited places in Cape Town to gain a deeper understanding of how the drought affects everyday life, including community garden projects and the Platteklip Stream on Table Mountain- a historic source of water in the city.

Hannah Diamond, sailor for Vestas 11th Hour Racing said about the experience: “We’ve been given such an amazing opportunity today to learn more about the beautiful city of Cape Town, the struggles it faces, and the wonderful people working to provide equal access to water for all”.

She added: “I’m proud to be part of the team that highlights local environmental issues and can give back to the community that hosts us”.

In Alicante, Spain- the first host city of the race, the recipient of the award was the Asociación De Naturalistas Del Sureste (ANSE), which monitors and protects endangered species and studies pollution effects on plants and animals.

In the second host city of Lisbon, Portugal, Vestas 11th hour Racing chose Circular Economy Portugal (CEP),- a newly- formed organisation dedicated to raising awareness and consult both the public and businesses on how to put circular economy principles into practice.

You can learn more about the impressive sustainability strategy of Vestas 11th Hour Racing here

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