I recently participated in the Water Revolution Foundation’s online course, ‘Sustainability Training for the Superyacht Industry’ (Ed’s note. full write-up of this experience published soon), and it is fitting that the course concluded on the same day as Earth Day – an annual global event to demonstrate support for environmental protection.

The workshop objectives are vast, but straightforward; from understanding the various definitions of sustainability, to identifying the UN Sustainable Development Goals related to your business, and how to use effective communication combined with avoidance of greenwashing to discuss sustainability, both internally and externally. Many more are in the list of objectives, but it is the latter which struck a chord with me, and quite possibly other members of the yachting press in attendance.

When asked how the yachting industry can contribute to society and to the environment, many of us taking part in the course came up with various examples; from the creation of jobs, to vessels aiding scientific research and exploration, and ways in which certain companies endeavour to reduce their carbon footprint. These are the areas which must be communicated properly by each sector of the industry that are contributing in such a way...

Corporate social responsibility (CSR), must be approached from an economic (profit), social (people) and environmental perspective, as these three aspects will all see equal benefits from a business’ positive approach to sustainability. When asked how the yachting industry can contribute to society and to the environment, many of us taking part in the course came up with various examples; from the creation of jobs, to vessels aiding scientific research and exploration, and ways in which certain companies endeavour to reduce their carbon footprint. These are the areas which must be communicated properly by each sector of the industry that are contributing in such a way.

As discussed with one member of my class - a representative from a well-known Dutch shipyard – the risk and resulting impact of both the yachting press and mass media missing a vital sustainable initiative that is being undertaken by, for example, a yard, or at the other end of the scale, publishing a negative article investigating the toxic emissions of a shipyard, affects not only that shipyard but its stakeholders, be that its employees, clients, shareholders, local governments, etc.

However…

When marking the probability of this ‘risk’ (a negative article) out of five, the likelihood of the yachting press publishing a story like this was mutually agreed as very low – a 1 or 2 / 5 – compared to mass media who would be more likely to jump on this kind of exposé. With that in mind, the previously mentioned yachting press in attendance and I all agreed that it is curious as to why we are not more critical of our industry, as we are all neutral parties and our role in this niche industry is to demand accountability.

Rather than expose the ‘bad apples’, we agreed it is more important to catalyse conversations about a company’s sustainable initiatives...

Rather than expose the ‘bad apples’, we agreed it is more important to catalyse conversations about a company’s sustainable initiatives, and dig (respectfully) into what more can be done or whether that is in the company’s plans.

Yes, the yachting press is unlikely to expose, name, and shame, as discussed, but it must still embrace open, collaborative conversations with each sector of the industry that will result in the sharing of ideas and thus the implementation of sustainable initiatives throughout this niche sphere. On this basis, I have included the following question to see what the industry thinks on this topic, and would be grateful for your thoughts...

Collaborative Conversations


Does the yachting press challenge the industry enough? And if not, what more could be done...



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Water Revolution Foundation


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