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10 environmental commitments for 10th edition of the Vendée Globe

In the run-up to the 10th edition of the solo, non-stop, non-assisted round the world race, the Vendée Globe is affirming its environmental commitments.

In addition to the causes supported by the skippers, the organization is also committed. The approach is part of a long-term perspective and is based around 10 commitments, divided into four key pillars: Anticipate, Reduce – both the impact of the village and visitors and the impact of the boats – Inspire and Build a positive legacy through the creation of the “Vendée Globe Foundation” an Endowment Fund to finance, in particular, the coordination of participative science by the skippers around the world in partnership with UNESCO.

Anticipate, the founding phase

The Vendée Globe has collaborated with Carbone 4 and Toovalu, recognized experts, to define a pioneering methodology for nautical events. The organization has applied the prospective carbon footprint method to identify the main impacts of the Vendée Globe 2024 and define ways of reducing them. A real carbon footprint (scope 3) of the event will then be established to definitively validate the methodology and measure the results of the actions taken.

Reduce, 3 major levers

First of all, by involving the ecosystem: for several editions now, the Vendée Globe organization has included environmental clauses in its public tenders, in order to work as much as possible with committed companies. For 2024, the exhibitors’ charter has been significantly strengthened. The entire management of the village will be affected in the short and medium term, as “We are fully aware of the need to continually improve our practices to minimize our footprint, from one edition to the other” explains Alain Leboeuf, President of the Vendée Globe and the Vendée Department.

The main lever for reducing emissions is visitor travel, which currently represents 63% of emissions. The Vendée Globe, aware that such a challenge cannot be met alone, has brought together public and private players, the Vendée Department, the town and agglomeration of Les Sables d’Olonne, the Pays de la Loire Region, the SNCF Group, En Vendée, SyDEV, and ADEME in particular to put in place a complete range of low carbon footprint mobility solutions: The SNCF, for example, will be deploying more TGVs to get to the village, the Region will be renewing its €5 TER service throughout the region, and the town will be offering visitors its full range of low-carbon transport options: green natural gas shuttles, hydrogen buses, electric sea buses and self-service bicycles… These are just some of the solutions that will be promoted through a joint communication campaign, based on the collective adventure of getting to the start of the biggest single-handed race in the world.

The Vendée Globe boats are veritable laboratories for innovation, influencing the entire nautical industry. Following the work initiated and voted for by the skippers of the IMOCA class, the Vendée Globe will provide a framework for innovation in order to reduce the impact of racing boats. The 2028 regulations will include a Carbon Cap, a limit on CO2 emissions in the construction of new IMOCA.

Skippers and officials are pictured during the press conference of the solo sailing race Vendee Globe, at UNESCO headquarters – photo © Jean-Marie Liot / Alea / Vendee Globe

Inspire, beyond sport and adventure

The Vendée Globe captivates many fans across the globe, offering the opportunity to raise public awareness: “Our large audiences oblige us, particularly towards the younger generations. For this 10th edition, we’re going to strengthen our Vendée Globe Junior educational program, and make it accessible to children all over the world,” says Alain Leboeuf, President of the Vendée Globe and the Vendée Département.

The race has also concluded content partnerships to enable the general public to learn more about the Ocean with a view to protecting it. These collaborations will enable the public to discover the vital role of the Ocean at the start village, but also throughout the race, on the event’s communication media. Throughout the round the world race, Ifremer (the French research institute for the exploitation of the sea), the TAAF (the French Austral and Antarctic Territories), Polar Journal (an online media dedicated to the polar zones) and Océans Connectés (an online media entirely dedicated to marine sciences) will produce a wide range of content that will be available on the race’s communication platforms.

Building a positive legacy with the Vendée Globe Foundation

The Vendée Globe aims to make its actions in favor of the environment a long-term commitment. The SAEM Vendée and the Département de la Vendée therefore decided to jointly set up the “Vendée Globe Foundation” endowment fund with three founding members: the Caisse Régionale du Crédit Agricole Mutuel Atlantique Vendée, the Caisse Fédérale du Crédit Mutuel Océan and the Banque Populaire Grand Ouest. The aim of the fund is to provide financial support for concrete research projects aimed at preserving marine ecosystems, in relation to the round-the-world route taken by the skippers. Sodebo, a long-standing partner of the race, is the first contributor.

The endowment fund is currently supporting 3 projects:

In order to delineate biodiversity protection zones along the race route in 2024, the Vendée Globe will be working with the transdisciplinary scientific consortium Share The Ocean. The aim is to minimize the risk of collisions between the IMOCA and marine megafauna.

The purpose of Mission William is to better understand the migratory routes of the whale shark – the world’s largest endangered fish – in order to protect it more effectively. This mission is supported by Over the Swell, an association that works to protect the ocean through wonder, education and the organization of oceanographic missions.

For nearly 10 years, many of the Vendée Globe skippers have been supporting participative science by taking on board or deploying various scientific instruments. These initiatives contribute significantly to enriching the scientific databases in the rarely visited areas of the Southern Ocean along the Vendée Globe route.

The organization wishes to reach a new milestone in 2024, by joining forces with UNESCO to coordinate, on a global and international scale, the embarkation of oceanographic measurement instruments on its race, in conjunction with various players: the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO (IOC/UNESCO), the GOOS, OceanOPS and the IMOCA Class. This partnership is part of the United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021-2030), coordinated by the IOC/UNESCO. “We are keen to fully assume our role in this project and to adopt a long-term perspective. Our commitment to UNESCO will enable us to make significant progress in this participative science project,” explains Alain Leboeuf, President of the Vendée Globe and the Vendée Department.

From 2028, all the competitors in the Vendée Globe will be equipped with scientific instruments for unprecedented data collection in the Deep South.

Press conference of the solo sailing race Vendee Globe, at UNESCO headquarters – photo © Vincent Curutchet / Alea / Vendee Globe

The 10 commitments in brief:

  1. Understanding the impact in order to reduce it: calculating the prospective carbon footprint
  2. Bringing the racing ecosystem on board by setting a responsible framework
  3. Minimizing the footprint of the event village
  4. Encourage visitors to use soft mobility to reach the village
  5. Limit the impact of the IMOCA boats
  6. Raise public awareness of ocean conservation by popularizing ocean science
  7. Build a positive legacy through the Vendée Globe Foundation endowment fund
  8. Protect biodiversity along the race route with Share The Ocean
  9. Understand marine megafauna to better protect it with Over the Swell’s Mission William
  10. A key partnership with UNESCO
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