Today, Swan Hellenic’s environmentally advanced expedition cruise ship SH Vega hosted the signing ceremony of an agreement by which Swan Hellenic, the Philippe Cousteau Foundation and SDG4MED engage to contribute jointly to the EU Mission “Restore our Ocean and Waters by 2030”. Under the agreement, Swan Hellenic commits to provide its fleet for use as “ships of opportunity”, enabling the foundations’ scientists to gauge the health of our Blue Planet in its most remote and pristine regions, including Arctic, Antarctica and Africa coasts, where the Swan Hellenic fleet is, of course, present for several months every year.
In late 2021, the European Parliament and the Council of the EU mandated the Commission to accelerate Ocean and Water health conservation and restoration worldwide. The resulting EU Mission is a coordinated effort to pool the necessary financial, scientific and operational resources.
The three organisations were among the first in the world to endorse the Mission Charter, which aims to create a sustainable, carbon-neutral, circular blue economy that plays a key role in achieving climate neutrality, since the oceans are major carbon sinks, protect biodiversity and foster economic prosperity, being expected to generate €2.5 trillion per year by 2030. The Mission 2030 targets include a 30% reduction in marine microplastics and the deployment of EU carbon neutral, circular blue economy communities.
In a message of congratulations to mark the signing, Spanish Prime Minister, Pedro Sánchez Pérez-Castejón, Institutional President of the Philippe Cousteau Foundation, remarked: “It gives me great pleasure to see our Foundation and country involved in this landmark agreement. It is not only an important early milestone in the EU Mission to help restore the balance between human activity and the health of our planet. It is also an important commitment to the values of peace, as recognised by the involvement of the World Peace Forum, including directly in the person of its President, José Félix Bentz Oliver. As such it is a source both of inspiration and of hope.”
Rafael Lobeto Lobo, Secretary General of the Philippe Cousteau Foundation and former Director General of the Spanish Merchant Navy, commented: “Life on Earth depends on the health of the connected system of the oceans, seas and inland waters, which cover around 75% of the Earth’s surface. It regulates our climate and provides oxygen, drinking water, clean energy and food. Yet man-made changes are putting our ocean and waters at serious risk, with pollution and global heating causing biodiversity loss and extreme weather events such as floods, droughts and heatwaves.”
Swan Hellenic CEO Andrea Zito noted: “These ambitions are embedded in our DNA. All of Swan Hellenic’s ships are equipped with cutting-edge green technologies, including the latest generation tier III diesel engines with urea injection, dynamic positioning systems to avoid anchoring in delicate seabed locations, and advanced wastewater treatment plants. We have also increasingly eliminated “single use plastics” on board as supported by supply chain availability in remote areas.”
All three organisations in fact already have their own individual Mission Charter commitments, with the Philippe Cousteau Foundation promoting ocean literacy in schools and among fishermen and seafarers, SDG4MED making the “LIFE4MEDECA Knowledge Center” available to municipalities to pursue a shared action plan, and Swan Hellenic continuously investing in the latest green technologies and operations.
Their new partnership is significant in recognising that individual initiatives, though commendable, are not sufficient, as SDG4MED President Mario Dogliani explained: “Acting together will greatly amplify what we are able to achieve through our efforts. This partnership offers us a vital tool – Swan Hellenic’s ships and their destinations – to collect data on ocean health with previously inconceivable reach and granularity. Data collected in rarely accessed ocean areas will improve the accuracy of scientists’ assessments of ocean health and its evolution. Moreover, the direct involvement of Swan Hellenic crew and guests paves the way for a new era of sustainable, ecologically aware cruising.”
“Oceans are like humans,” observed Zito. “A full picture of health parameters enables effective medical treatment. Using commercial ships as sensors of Ocean Health is just common sense and I am pleased that Swan Hellenic is able to help make this a reality and best practice. Our new commitment with this partnership is in many ways a natural extension of our existing practice of inviting cruise guests to actively contribute to a series of leading “Citizen Science” programmes, providing data on the environment and marine life, while building their awareness and knowledge of scientific initiatives”.