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By SuperyachtNews

Leaders of the Revolution

Business leaders gather to create a roadmap for the implementation of a regenerative strategy for yachting…

At the end of May 2024, at the HQ of Feadship, a stone’s throw from Schiphol airport, a gathering of approximately 50 superyacht industry leaders spent the day and much of the evening focused on the future of our industry. This meeting, graciously hosted by Feadship, was called by Water Revolution Foundation WRF), of which I’m proud to be a founding board member, and it was very clear from the consensus reached in the various meeting rooms that we are starting a real ‘revolution’.

Following an initial business leaders’ meeting in Hamburg in 2023, hosted by Peter Lürssen, it is clear that the desire, drive and determination of Robert van Tol, Executive Director, and his team at WRF is really making a difference. The Yacht Environmental Transparency Index (YETI), the database of Sustainable Verified Solutions, Ocean Programmes and Scientific Partnerships have been the core focus of the Foundation, but the time to act and create a real revolution requires momentum and support from the biggest companies in the sector. From my perspective, listening to these business leaders participate in workshops, round tables and debates on how we can make a difference and adopt a regenerative approach to what we all do was both inspiring and exciting.

“It is fundamental to set one common industry goal and have a widely adopted strategy on how to get there, together. With these targeted events, we challenge and equip company owners and CEOs of dominant players in the yachting market to become change agents, not only leading their companies towards the future, but the entire sector. We are very pleased to provide such a powerful group with a cross-industry strategic platform,” says Robert van Tol.

A celebrated figure in the realm of space exploration and scientific research, Dutch astronaut Andre Kuipers set a powerful tone for the day by sharing his unique perspective of our blue planet from the vantage point of space. With striking imagery highlighting the devastation of ecosystems over time, he called upon the audience to reduce pressure on nature and give it time to recover, emphasising that this can only be achieved through collaboration and setting ambitious goals.

WRF’s vice-chair and initiator Dr Vienna Eleuteri, alongside Professor Adriana del Borghi from the University of Genoa and Blue Economy Specialist Jorge Barbosa, unveiled a regenerative strategy for the yachting industry to address the triple planetary crisis of climate change, pollution and biodiversity loss. Calling for a shift from mere impact reduction to regeneration, they proposed a climate neutrality plan based on the 3R-model: Reduce, Remove and Repair. These principles advocate for minimising negative impacts, adopting cleaner alternatives and actively restoring ecosystems to neutralise any remaining effects and ultimately become net-positive.

“By embracing this structured approach, we can lead the way in demonstrating how luxury and sustainability can coexist. The adoption of these principles will enable our sector to meet regulatory demands, gain consumer and public opinion trust, and ensure long-term viability in an increasingly eco-conscious market,” says Eleuteri.

With the scientific insights as a foundation, attendees were divided into breakout rooms to gather ideas for an ambitious roadmap implementing the 3-R model across all stages of a yacht’s lifecycle. This collaborative effort resulted in the formation of concrete actions for the coming years, demonstrating strong alignment among stakeholders on the necessary steps to achieve regeneration.

The discussions initiated during this event signify the beginning of a transformative journey towards a regenerative future for yachting. Moving forward, WRF will collaborate with attendees to refine the generated ideas and incorporate input into an industry roadmap taking concrete actions aligned with the principles of Reduce, Remove and Repair. As stated by Feadship CEO & Chairman of WRF Henk de Vries: “This is not just about furthering our business – it’s about making sure we have a business for the future.”

What was most interesting and exciting about the leaders event and the call for a regenerative approach is the fact that when challenged to think about how to start the process and map out this transition all the way through until 2050, where zero emissions is the target, everyone in the room had stimulating ideas and suggestions for how to start the journey.

Obviously, this will not happen overnight and the industry needs to be both patient and joined up, because a collaborative approach, along with some of the easy wins, will make a huge difference. How we design, how we build, how we operate and how we refit, repair and rebuild are all opportunities for our industry to reduce our impact, as well as cutting waste, time and, of course, money.

The next step is for Van Tol and his team, supported by the board, to create a realistic and strategic ‘road map’ for the next 25 years, where the superyacht fleet and industry, focus on the future and making our processes, people and projects more planet friendly and maybe even more profitable, but most importantly being seen as an industry that is adapting and evolving for a next generation.

Further details of the 2050 regenerative roadmap will be published later this year, to reinforce some of the smart ideas and solutions that will make a difference coming from the minds of these ‘Leaders of the Revolution’.

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