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Water Footprint Implementation helps to further sustainability goals

by 11th Hour Racing Team 22 Mar 08:18 PDT
11th Hour Racing Team © Amory Ross / 11th Hour Racing

Pulling out all the stops in their quest for a water neutral campaign, 11th Hour Racing Team has established a new partnership with Dutch organization, Water Footprint Implementation.

  • The partnership is part of an ambitious endeavor to ensure accuracy in the Team's overall sustainability program and reporting.
  • Monitoring direct and indirect water use allows the Team to make conscious choices on where to purchase goods and supplies.

The Netherlands-based body will be joining the organization to quantify and manage the sailing team's direct and indirect water use until the end of The Ocean Race 2022-23. 11th Hour Racing Team will work with Water Footprint Implementation to track water usage, reduce consumption, and compensate for the unavoidable remaining footprint from the campaign.

A 'water footprint' isn't simply the amount of water that comes out of a tap. Every product and service used takes water to make or provide - whether that's materials for the boat build, the sailors' clothing or the equipment taken onboard for each race. This is known as 'embedded water' and accounts for the indirect water use. When products are traded across borders, there is also a 'virtual water' trade taking place. By monitoring the team's use of this finite resource they can learn where the water is coming from and how it may be impacting these often distant regions, allowing conscious choices when purchasing goods.

In an ambitious endeavor to ensure accuracy in the data, the Team's goal is to include embedded water consumption, as well as direct water consumption, in their overall footprint calculations.

"Partnering with Water Footprint Implementation is step one of many as we seek to minimize our water footprint, and aspire to run a net positive campaign across all our sectors of operation and influence - having a regenerative impact on our environment," explained Damian Foxall, 11th Hour Racing Team's Sustainability Program Manager. "Their expertise will enable us to fully assess our campaign's impact, allowing us to build an effective strategy to mitigate our water use and optimize opportunities for making considered choices when purchasing our goods and supplies. It's important that we understand, and take responsibility for, our impacts in any given sector - only then can we begin to make powerful and constructive changes that will improve the health of our planet."

According to the World Wildlife Fund, if global water consumption continues at the current level, two-thirds of the world's population could be affected by water scarcity by 2025. In order to better understand issues like water shortages and pollution, Water Footprint Implementation examines production and supply chains as a whole, helping governments and organizations reduce their impact on water sources.

"We're very excited to work with the 11th Hour Racing Team on their water sustainability journey," said Ioana Dobrescu, the project lead from Water Footprint Implementation. "Obtaining a precise insight into the embedded water in the different materials the Team uses for the boat or in their day to day activities during the race will be complex and challenging, but it is indispensable to inform reduction strategies and compensation options.

"What we find particularly unique about this partnership is the possibility for Water Footprint to use a previously unexplored field such as marine sports to raise awareness globally about the virtual water trade. The Ocean Race is a great 'stage', as virtual water trade takes place for a major part, via cargo shipping on marine waters, which is not visible to us as consumers. Juxtaposing examples of virtual water trade from one stopover to the next we hope will trigger the wider community to consider their water consumption."

"Tackling this challenge will be a real journey for us, but the results are sure to make a difference," acknowledged Mark Towill, CEO of 11th Hour Racing Team.

"Over our last campaign with Vestas 11th Hour Racing, we learned a lot about the changes we can make to reduce our water footprint with ease. For example, by simply implementing a 'Meat-free Mondays' policy during our last cycle, we saved more water than was used by the whole team through taps and hoses throughout the entire campaign. That's mind blowing. Food has such a huge impact on our water footprints, but there are many other contributing factors too. This is why we're joining forces with Water Footprint Implementation, to understand how we can better address this problem and inform our Team's net positive approach," Towill concluded.

11th Hour Racing Team's mission is to inspire positive action among sailing and coastal communities, and global sports fans to create long-lasting change for ocean health. The Team will accelerate change through sporting excellence in sailing, ocean advocacy, and sustainable innovation.

More information on 11th Hour Racing Team's sustainability program here.

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