The Race for Water Odyssey (R4WO) reached New York City on Thursday, concluding its Atlantic crossing in a journey that will take its six-man crew over 40,000 nautical miles as they attempt to draw up the first global assessment of plastic pollution in the oceans.
The crew members will be in the Big Apple until April 15, participating in numerous outreach events including two United Nations (UN) conferences organized by the UNEP about the issue of plastic litter.
After completing the crossing of the Atlantic – which was turbulent due to several large depressions – the expedition has now arrived in New York, where it is welcomed and supported by United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the Swiss Consulate, among others. The crew members will be in New York until April 15th, participating in numerous outreach events including an open forum organized by UNEP to highlight the issue of plastic debris in the oceans.
The R4WO will be the guest of honor this afternoon at a plenary session regarding the Global Partnership on Marine Litter (GPML), organized by the UNEP at the United Nations (UN) headquarters – undoubtedly the defining moment of the New York stopover. Launched at the Rio+20 Conference in 2012, this partnership aims to coordinate and support private and public action in the fight against marine pollution.
During this session, an open forum will take place in honor of the R4WO, with remarks by Patricia Beneke, Director of the Regional Office for North America, UNEP, Nancy Wallace, member of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and Chair of the GPML; and H.E. May-Elin Stener, Deputy Permanent Representative of Norway to the United Nations. At the same time, outreach activities for young audiences will be held aboard the MOD70 Race for Water trimaran.
“The world’s oceans receive an enormous amount of litter each year, much of which is persistent and creates marine pollution that is global and intergenerational” said Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary-General and UNEP Executive Director “Collaboration between international governments, the private sector, civil society and academia is key to stemming the flow of waste into this fragile environment”.
Achim Steiner added: “The Race for Water Odyssey is a pioneering and inspiring expedition that is helping to uncover the true impact of pollution in the world’s oceans, 80 per cent of which comes from human activities. Through their bold mission to extend our limited knowledge of waste gyres, and the major environmental threat they pose, the Odyssey’s crew are inspiring us all to take action and speak up for the oceans, the lifeblood of our blue planet”.
“Race for Water, based in Lausanne, Switzerland, is a pioneering initiative to clean up plastic waste in the world’s oceans. This pollution concerns all of us, as consumers, as producers and as authorities, no matter whether we are an alpine country like Switzerland or a country with a vast shoreline” said Switzerland’s Consul General, Ambassador André Schaller “Environmental protection and sustainable development are essential to ensuring our children’s future. I am proud to welcome the pioneer team to New York City, a place where sustainability is a high-priority for government and citizens alike”.
After leaving Bordeaux, France on March 15th, the Race for Water Odissey made an initial stopover in the Azores before heading to the Bermuda islands, located in the center of a plastic gyre, to conduct the first of 11 scientific analyses.