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Industry leaders assemble to brainstorm on a regenerative future

Yachting bigwigs met in Amsterdam late last month for a high-level discussion on how to turn the industry into a force for environmental and social regeneration. CEOs and managers from across some of the biggest names in the business reached a consensus on the idea of transforming their businesses by 2050.

The event was organised by the Water Revolution Foundation (WRF) and kept deliberately low-key, in order to facilitate the sort of frank, open discussion necessary to make headway on this agenda. Hosted by Feadship, it drew dozens of heavyweight participants including Heesen’s CEO Niels Vaessen.

Dutch astronaut Andre Kuipers was also there to share his perspective on the fragility of the planet. Having viewed from the Earth from space, he was able to give sobering feedback on the way that ecosystems have been visibly devastated over time. He urged the audience to ensure that their businesses reduced the pressure on nature, giving it time to recover, and called for ambitious, collaborative goals.

The industry is still some way from charting a course towards fully regenerative business – one where the building and use of yachts not only keeps the planet’s resources intact, but actually helps to increase them. However, the point of the symposium was to give free rein to the ideas needed to start this revolution, and in that, it did not disappoint.

Alongside Professor Adriana del Borghi from the University of Genoa and blue economy specialist Jorge Barbosa, WRF unveiled a strategy for the industry to address the triple challenge of climate change, pollution, and biodiversity loss. Together, they proposed a climate neutrality plan based on the 3R-model: Reduce, Remove, and Repair. These principles aim to minimise negative impacts, adopt cleaner alternatives, and actively restore ecosystems.

“By embracing this structured approach, we can lead the way in demonstrating how luxury and sustainability can coexist,” said WRF founder and vice chair, Dr Vienna Eleuteri. “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.”

The invitees were divided into breakout rooms to develop ideas that could help achieve these goals. Heesen’s Niels Vaessen found it a stimulating way of approaching a problem which is facing every single business in the sector. These ideas will be curated and refined through further meetings at WRF to create a concrete roadmap which can guide the industry in the years ahead.

“Participating in the Water Revolution Foundation meeting with fellow industry leaders underscores the critical importance of collaboration,” said Vaessen. “By joining forces and sharing our collective expertise, we can drive innovations that pave the way for a more sustainable future in the superyacht industry. Together, we have the power to create meaningful change and lead the way in environmental stewardship.”

Written by Sam Fortescue

 

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