Let’s first take a look at what sustainability actually means. Here is one definition that I think particular suits our industry: “Sustainability means taking the long-term view of how our actions effect future generations and making sure we don't deplete resources or cause pollution at rates faster than the earth is able to renew them.”
Do the next generations hold the key?
Is it a fact that the younger generation are more in tune with these sustainability aims than the more senior members of the boating community? If you believe this is true, as many people do, then surely we have to attract more young people into boating and water sports, to either become a professional in our industry, or to enjoy a life-long pastime, in order to harness the energy of youth that will drive changes!
We also have to make sustainability actions a part of the training process in sea schools, marinas, sailing clubs and on board commercial yachts.
For sure we need to be mirroring actions in other consumer industries such as automobile and aerospace manufacturing. This means adopting regulated recycling methods, building for disassembly, developing hybrid energy and propulsion systems, finding ways to reduce our impact on the oceans and the wider environment, and generally encouraging a positive move towards the principles of the Circular Economy.
This must involve both the users (boat owners, charterers, and water sports enthusiasts across the whole spectrum from kayakers to fishermen), and the industry that serves them; from designers and naval architects, to boat builders, marina operators, port authorities and the entire supply chain behind it.
In the last few months since we have started publishing regular environmental sustainability articles on the METSTRADE Community site, we have covered subjects such as: User demographics and their effect on sustainability, plastic pollution in the oceans, end-of-life boats and recycling methods, antifoulings and some less harmful alternatives, clean marina schemes, changes to marine diesel formulations, and how the regatta world is driving the ocean sustainability movement. We have not even scratched the surface yet, but this variation of topics gives some idea as to how widespread the discussion and actions have to be for our industry to really move forward and make our environment more sustainable.
On the positive side, I have found in researching these articles that we do have a very encouraging level of awareness and entrepreneurial development towards sustainability, right across our industry and across the world. So its a case of doing more of the same, in more places, across more sectors, and continuing to keep the awareness level as high as possible.
In conclusion, I don't think it's too dramatic to say, that our industry together with the commercial shipping world are the stewards of the world's oceans and waterways, the most vital natural resource on the planet. Therefore we should most definitely be at the forefront of the sustainability movement!
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