In these cynical times that we live in, it can be hard to distinguish between genuinely ethical decisions and blatant attempts to greenwash businesses and industries. In the vast majority of cases, unless you know the decision makers behind various campaigns, it is almost impossible to determine the motivations behind sustainable agendas. However, the first thing that must be said of Monaco Yacht Show 2019 was the noticeable uptake in the fight to support sustainable agendas on the part of the exhibitors, the visitors and the show itself.
Yes, while it may be impossible to determine the extent to which businesses are genuinely engaging with issues of sustainability, my gut instinct tells me that 2019 was a real tipping point for the industry. It wasn’t so many years ago that a number of the superyacht market’s leaders would turn their noses up at the mere suggestion of sustainable practices; today these same individuals seem to have developed genuine interest in the cause.
What was perhaps most striking was the collective attitude. Indeed, to my discredit, I was quite rightly admonished – albeit politely – by a member of the MYS team at a water filling point for using a single-use plastic water bottle. The single-use bottle was swiftly replaced by the team member for a reusable alternative. Come the end of MYS I was four branded water bottles the richer, gifted to me by a variety of exhibitors and events organisers. While this may sound trivial, each water bottle came on the back of a conversation about the importance of sustainability to the superyacht industry.
Historically, it always seemed that discussions about sustainability were delivered because it was fashionable to do so. Simply being aware of green issues was enough to distinguish one company from another. Today, however, there seems to be far less bravado and pride attached to green discussions. Speeches delivered at MYS 2019 were impassioned and underlined by a sense of immediacy, and this was never more vividly portrayed than by Cyrill Gutsch, founder of Parley for the Oceans, during an exclusive event in partnership with Rossinavi.
“Climate change is a massive issue,” began Gutsch. “The planet is burning up, the oceans are dying, the coral reefs are 50 per cent of what they were. Under this boat, in the waters, there is war. We are killing life at a rapid speed, we are throwing in nuclear waste and plastic; it is a shit-show. We don’t see it because we are dust walkers - we walk on land. We call this ‘planet earth’, if we were fish we’d call it ‘planet ocean’.
“Why should we care? Why are we in danger? We should care because 80 per cent of the oxygen we take in, 80 per cent of the air we breathe, is generated by life in the world’s oceans and seas. Even if you don’t care about the animals in the ocean, we can’t live on this planet with a dead ocean. It’s impossible.”
Gutsch described a world where everything is up for redesign. He explored the idea of a new industrial revolution, a material revolution that will see us drastically rethink what products are made from, how they are sourced and how they give back to the environment. It seems that at last, so far as sustainability is concerned, the penny has dropped and, as if to hammer home the point, Feadship, one of the world’s most renowned superyacht manufacturers, announced that it intends to build only electric superyachts by 2025.
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