Protecting the ocean: partnership between The Ocean Race and IOC-UNESCO

The Ocean Race and UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission join forces to inspire action for ocean protection

The new partnership combines The Ocean Race’s deep experience on the seas, stemming from nearly 50 years of organising ocean races, with the IOC‘s leadership in marine science and sustainable ocean management. The partnership will use the race’s global platform to raise awareness of the impact people are having on the ocean and the vital role it plays in our lives.

The Ocean Race and IOC-UNESCO

As an Impact Collaborator, the IOC will work with The Ocean Race on the science programme, which collects data on the state of the marine environment, including in remote parts of the ocean that are largely inaccessible to research vessels. The partners will work together to ensure that the data collected by crews helps advance ocean research with support from the United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021-2030), now in its second year. The data will contribute to the IOC-led Global Ocean Observing System and the work of other organisations that are monitoring key threats to the ocean, such as marine debris, microplastics and acidification (a key indicator of climate change).

The Ocean Race and IOC-UNESCO

The partnership aims to contribute to global action for the ocean, in what is hoped to be a significant year for the seas, starting with the One Ocean Summit in Brest, France, an event that aims to grow international action and push for concrete commitments.

Vladimir Ryabinin, Executive Secretary of IOC-UNESCO, said, “Creating the ocean we want by 2030 – an ocean that is healthy, resilient, sustainable, safe and inspiring – is the central goal of the UN Decade of the Ocean, and from the outset it has been clear that we need broad collaboration between science, government, philanthropy and civil society to achieve it. Since 2015 we have been working in partnership with the sailing world through the IMOCA Class, and I think our new partnership with The Ocean Race demonstrates the growing commitment of this community to understanding and protecting the ocean.”

The IOC will also be involved in the Summits organised by The Ocean Race, which bring together global decision-makers to help drive new and better policies to protect and govern the ocean, and will participate in amplifying The Ocean Race’s educational programme, which teaches children about the importance of the seas. During the next round-the-world race, which starts in January 2023, the partners will engage children in the eight Race Villages (the event location of the race in each stage city), where the health of the ocean will be a central theme.

The Ocean Race and IOC-UNESCO

Richard Brisius, President of The Ocean Race said: “The Ocean Race and COI-UNESCO share the common goal of raising awareness of the vital role the ocean plays in sustaining all life on earth. Only by increasing our understanding of our blue planet can we drive stronger action to protect it. We share the same values as the IOC and by combining their expertise in ocean science and our global platform we can inspire the public – such as the sailing community, the sports industry, businesses, host cities, governments, fans and sponsors – to effect change that supports a healthy and rich ocean.”

The collaboration builds on an enhanced relationship between the two organisations, which has already seen Vladimir Ryabin in the role of speaker at The Ocean Race Summit in The Hague in 2020 and support for many of The Ocean Race’s activities from the United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development. The Decade is a global movement that aims to unlock the knowledge needed to reverse the decline in ocean health and create better conditions for sustainable ocean development.

The Ocean Race and IOC-UNESCO

Partnerships are a key element of The Ocean Race’s award-winning ‘Racing with Purpose’ sustainability programme, which brings together a range of tangible actions to positively impact the marine environment. Working with 11th Hour Racing – the founding partner of the Racing with Purpose programme and Premier Partner of The Ocean Race, The Ocean Race is holding high-level summits to push global decision-makers to create policies to protect and govern the ocean, providing vital data on the state of the seas to leading scientific organisations, equipping children with the knowledge to safeguard the ocean and much more.

(Protecting the ocean: partnership between The Ocean Race and COI-UNESCO – – February 2022)