Changing Planet

COP21 – A Voice for the Ocean for the First Time

After having finished the Race for Water Odyssey, the Race for Water Foundation just concluded its visit to the City of Lights. In Paris to give a voice to the oceans for the first time at the global summit, the organization presented its programme of solutions against plastic pollution at Le Bourget and aboard its new ambassador ship, the largest solar-powered vessel in the world, renamed Race for Water. Race for Water solar vessel is now heading towards Lorient (France), from where she will start her 2016 campaign.

The Foundation’s new ambassador for the oceans: Race for Water © Race for Water 2015 / Peter Charaf
“Plastic pollution: from impact to solutions” exhibition / © Race for Water 2015 Peter Charaf

Race for Water Foundation representatives have been in Paris since the 25 November with the new ambassador vessel, taking part in a multitude of events and conferences throughout COP21. At Le Bourget (in the Blue Zone as well as in the Climate Generation area), at the Grand Palais and aboard its solar vessel, the foundation successfully gave the oceans of the globe a voice. These conferences, placed under the label of solutions, were indeed very successful and allowed to bring the message of the urgency to act to preserve our oceans. The Foundation also inaugurated the “Plastic Pollution: from impact to solutions” exhibition on board the Foundation’s flagship, displaying its solutions programme and pilot projects to be launched from 2016 on.

Race for Water Odyssey: just a beginning

The Foundation’s 2015 main project, the Race for Water Odyssey, accomplished aboard a sailing trimaran, returned to Bordeaux on November 18, concluding an unprecedented human and scientific adventure which took the team to 17 locations, ranging from very remote islands to important international cities across the world. At each stopover, the R4WO team studied levels of plastic pollution in the water and raised awareness of the global issue. The findings are dramatic: plastic pollution is ubiquitous.

Race for Water Odyssey : an expedition to assess plastic pollution in the world / © Race for Water 2015 Peter Charaf

“This expedition has been a great human and scientific adventure and our arrival back in Bordeaux is an emotional experience. The last nine months have been challenging at times, but all the data and knowledge acquired and the enriching encounters that we have experienced are priceless,” said Marco Simeoni, expedition leader and president of the Race for Water Foundation.

“Race for Water Odyssey is just the beginning. It is a springboard that has enabled us to further define what can be done to counter pollution. Following the Odyssey, our conclusions are clear: we must be proactive and prevent plastic from getting into our waterways by making plastic waste attractive. We will be launching pilot projects that transform waste into energy in 2016,” he added.

The solution? Give plastic waste a value

Inspired by the principles of social entrepreneurship, the Foundation therefore plans to prevent waste from entering the waterways by giving it a value through an innovative technology that transforms waste into electricity. This model generates social, environmental and economic benefits and several coastal cities are already interested to implement it as of next year. Throughout the implementation of the solutions programme, the solar ship will serve as a versatile platform, as president of the Foundation, Marco Simeoni explains:

A solution to preserve our oceans: give plastic waste a value. © Race for Water 2015

“Race for Water is an amazing tool to attract public and media attention to our cause and our message. It is a very versatile vessel which allows the Foundation to present innovative solutions that give end of life plastic a value raise awareness and to host scientists studying plastic pollution in the marine environment. She is therefore an exceptional scientific and communication platform for the foundation, a unique tool to shine a spotlight on the cause.”

During its stay in Paris, the Foundation also presented the ‘Collector’, a prototype boat that can collect macro waste in bays, lakes and rivers. It was developed by MOD SA and the Naval Industrie Lorientaise boatyard on behalf of Race for Water Foundation and has a cleaning capacity of 5,000m2 per hour with a yield of 500kg/hour. Waste absorbed at the front of the vessel travels to deck level on a conveyor belt before being stored in containers. Portable and versatile, the ‘Collector’ meets the needs of the community and the cleaning companies no matter the expanse of water. This vessel contributes greatly to the pioneering solutions the Race for Water Foundation wants to action in 2016.

Tony Estanguet and Gérard d’Aboville join Race for Water

Tony Estanguet, triple Olympic winner, is the new godfather of the boat. © Race for Water 2015 Peter Charaf

Following this Parisian stopover, Race for Water Foundation is delighted to welcome Gérard d’Aboville, captain of the solar ship, and Tony Estanguet, triple Olympic Gold medallist to the organisation as ambassadors. A member of the Sport and Environment Commission of the International Olympic Committee, Tony Estanguet describes the motives behind his commitment:

“As a former high-level athlete, water has been my daily and favorite playground for over 25 years. It is therefore with great pleasure and pride that I now commit myself alongside the Race for Water Foundation to preserve the resource that changed my life. When Marco Simeoni presented his project to me, I was immediately wowed by his constructive and solutions driven approach. I hope I can also contribute to the success of this amazing project through my ambassador role. “

Plastic pollution on Koror Island during the Race for Water Odyssey / © Race for Water 2015 Peter Charaf

Both ambassadors will promote the Foundation’s cause during future missions to prevent the plastic pollution of water.

With COP21 in its wake, the solar ship Race for Water is currently en route to Lorient in Brittany where she is expected to arrive before Christmas. The flagship will be based there until the 2016 campaign to implement pilot projects that counter plastic pollution, starting from March on.



The Race for Water Foundation is an organization dedicated to the preservation of water and the ocean in particular. This indispensable resource is under massive threat from pollution and must be protected. The Foundation aims to identify, promote and implement technological solutions to preserve the ocean. Race for Water remains committed and head back to sea with the Race for Water Odyssey : a 5-year expedition around the world dedicated to science and energy transition, using the ocean, the sun and the wind as its sole sources of energy
  • Stephen Fawcett
  • Marcus Eriksen

    I see Waste to Energy and local clean up in marinas as primary solutions described here. These are downstream solutions that I’m sure you agree do not address the design problems of single-use throw away plastics. What work are you doing to innovate design of non-polluting products and packaging? Would you support our microbead ban at

  • Race for Water

    Hi Marcus! Thank you for your comment.
    Waste to Energy is actually an upstream solution in that we plan to collect waste onland, before it reaches any kind of waterway. The objectifs is thus to stop the continuous flow of pollution that ends up every day in the oceans.
    Regarding local clean up in marinas and the “Collector”, this is an additional solution that we promote, as our foundation plans to encourage every iniative that aims at protecting our ocean, no matter the scale. Our core solution will however focus on upstream solution as of next year, aka. on plastic to energy.
    Beside, we are currently building an expert community that is growing every day and that will give us some lobbying power with industries in a near future, as this variable has to be addressed too. To this regard, we would be happy to support your ban, that we will sign. Most of my colleagues have signed it individually already!
    I hope I answered your question, if you wish to discuss further more about it, do not hesitate to write us on!

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