New Caledonia's stopover : 2 months
Created in 2010, the Swiss Foundation Race for Water fights to prevent the plastic pollution of the oceans. Its motto: to take action on the ground by providing sustainable technological solutions. Through its Odyssey 2017-2021, the ambassador vessel travels the globe’s seas to study the impact of plastic on the marine environment, to alert as many people as possible to this scourge and to offer solutions to combat it. It is a comprehensive programme rolled out at every stopover to assist the coastal towns and the different islands visited to take action locally against this global problem.
The Race for Water Foundation’s ambassador vessel is quite unique; propelled solely by renewable energies thanks to its solar panels, its traction kite and its chain of hydrogen production and storage. A working showcase for energy transition whilst underway, the vessel transforms into a fabulous reception venue and discussion forum once she’s dockside.
Setting sail from Lorient, south-west Brittany, on 9 April 2017 for a 5-year circumnavigation of the globe, the Race for Water vessel is continuing her negotiation of the Pacific Ocean and has begun her 15th stopover in New Caledonia, where she will remain for two months through until 26 March, moored in Port Moselle, at the heart of the town of Nouméa.
On 19 February, the local authorities and our stopover partners were welcomed aboard. Everyone involved highlighted the importance of a collaboration to tackle the complex and growing issue of plastic waste and pollution in the area.
Science, education and exchanges about innovative solutions for managing plastic waste are on the programme in New Caledonia:
- A scientific mission took place in Prony Bay from 6 to 15 February conducted by the IRD. Four scientists (Dr Fanny Houlbreque, Dr Ricardo Rodolfo Metalpa, Dr Leila Meistertzheim and Valentine Meunier) were welcomed aboard Race for Water to enable them to successfully carry out their AMICI mission, which aims to analyse the impact of metals and microplastics on the health of coral islands.
- There will be a long succession of classes aboard the vessel throughout the stopover, with over 450 local youngsters hosted aboard. Conferences open to the public will be held in the Province Sud lecture theatre (20 February, C’Nature Conference) and at the Aquarium des Lagons (22 February). A private conference will also take place at the Cercle Nautique Calédonien. Furthermore, an EEC Engie village will be set up in Port Moselle on 23 and 24 March with a wealth of entertainment scheduled, together with the opportunity for a lucky few to win tours of the Race for Water vessel.
- Various meetings, including a round table on 21 February, are planned aboard the vessel, with several public institutions, business leaders and NGOs, and the aim is to discuss possible solutions and present Biogreen: an innovative technology to convert plastic waste into energy, developed by Race for Water with the French engineering company ETIA. A workshop dedicated to technological innovations for producing and storing energy is also scheduled on 22 February in collaboration with the Caledonian Energy Agency and New Caledonia’s Government.
Jean-François Laforest, CEO of EEC Engie: “In February and March 2019, a scientific and environmental expedition, the Race for Water Odyssey, is making a stopover in New Caledonia. Adopting a very active role within the sphere of energy revolution, EEC is keen to support Race for Water in its action to raise awareness and carry out research centred on the study and preservation of the oceans for a more sustainable world. EEC is proud to embark on this great adventure and support and test a series of innovative solutions targeting increasingly decentralised and carbon-free energy, using future-proof options for power represented by the sun, hydrogen and energy storage, which are solutions implemented on the Race For Water Odyssey. Economic, environmental and social initiatives will be shared with scientists, the young generations and the general public, which is an approach EEC is greatly in favour of.”
Nina Julié, elected representative at the PROVINCE SUD in charge of the environment and President of the Agence Calédonienne de l’Énergie (New Caledonian Energy Agency): “For a number of years, I’ve been involved in the struggle to combat plastic-based pollution. New Caledonia boasts an extraordinary environment, which is an exceptional source of richness. As a result, reducing plastic waste is a priority for Province Sud. Race for Water offers a practical solution for converting plastic waste into energy, whose implementation in New Caledonia is certainly worth discussing. I think that the Race for Water expedition is an opportunity to offer people food for thought and also raise local awareness, especially among the youngest members of the population, about the harmful impact of plastic.
The Agence Calédonienne de l’Énergie was created among other things to promote renewable energies, as well as innovation, which is necessary for energy transition in New Caledonia. It is a matter of urgency that we reduce our dependence on fossil energies. The latter are no longer sustainable for our environment and our economy. If we want to develop our energetic sovereignty, we must keep a close watch on innovative technological solutions.”
Dr. Claude Payri, Director of Research and the UMR ENTROPIE at the IRD New Caledonia: “The Race for Water vessel’s stopover in New Caledonia is the perfect opportunity for our ENTROPIE team to initiate a study in this region into the impact of microplastic on the physiology of reef-building corals. At a point where various initiatives are thriving in a bid to combat this scourge, the IRD’s researchers are delighted to be able to utilise this vessel to contribute to the research, whilst at the same time limiting the environmental impact and preserving the tranquillity of this fabulous Prony Bay.”
Camille Rollin, head of the ACT project at the Race for Water Foundation: “We’re here to talk about the importance of the ocean and the way New Caledonia is affected by and can take action to combat plastic pollution.
The simple action of littering the street or a beach with plastic waste can lead to the creation of microplastics, which will contaminate our food chain, the water and even the air we breathe. We’re here to show that there are solutions and that we must take action together on every level to prevent plastic from reaching the oceans.
Everyone can make a difference in their own way with the simple principles embraced by the ‘5Rs’: Refuse and reduce the pointless in order to limit the generation of waste. Reuse and repair as much as possible to extend the lifespan of the product. Recycle and therefore sort waste to give everyday products a second life.
Finally, the Biogreen technology that we’re offering to convert plastic waste into energy is perfectly suited to island communities and offers a local solution to the challenge of managing plastic waste, whilst providing a precious resource of energy production, which is very much in line with the objectives of a renewable and sustainable energy mix…”
Sébastien Fellmann, SODEMO company: “Port Moselle will play host to what is an exceptional boat, not only down to its size but also through the message it is conveying. Race for Water will be in Port Moselle through until 26 March. The partnership has quickly found an echo within the port team thanks to the values conveyed by the Race for Water Foundation. The managing and conversion of plastic waste is very much in line with SODEMO’s environmental actions. We very much hope that their reception in Port Moselle enables this foundation to pass on a meaningful message to future generations across New Caledonia.”
On 31 January: arrival in Lifou, meetings with the local authorities
On 1 February: visits by schoolchildren in Lifou
From 3 to 5 February: stopover in Nouméa (scientific mission preparation)
From 6 to 15 February: stopover in Prony Bay (scientific mission)
Coming up in February:
Wednesday 20 February 6:00pm – Conference at the Cercle Nautique Calédonien
Thursday 21 February – “Plastic waste to energy” workshop
Friday 22 February – Workshop on “New technologies for producing and storing energy. What is the impact on the islands of the evolution of the energy mix?”
At 6:15pm – Intervention at the Aquarium des Lagons – open to the public
Monday 25, Tuesday 26 and Thursday 27 February – Schoolchildren visit
Tuesday 26 February at 6:00pm – C’Nature conference with the Province Sud and the IRD at the Province Sud lecture theatre _ open to the public
Coming up in March:
From Friday 1 to Wednesday 20 March: technical pit-stop
Saturday 23 and Sunday 24 March: General public tour arranged by our main partner at the stopover, EEC Engie, with a visit via registration on e.ticket.nc (subject to availability)
Thank you to our local partners