As the custodian of the sport of sailing in Singapore, we inevitably have a very strong connection with the seas. Our activities are primarily held in the coasts and seas around the island. Over the years, we have seen the bad and the ugly in our surrounding waters – plastic bags floating in the water, heaps of trash on the shores, and much more.
It was very concerning to see the state of our environment and that was when we pledged to commit ourselves to sustainability. Understanding the United Nations General Assembly’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals also inspired us to head in this direction. We might be the custodian of the sport of sailing, but we are now also a custodian of the seas and we recognise our responsibility of raising the next generations of ocean ambassadors.
We kicked off our sustainability journey in early 2018 with the organisation of our first Clean Regatta. Clean Regatta is an international certification offered by Sailors for the Sea, an international conservation group. To achieve this certification, we had to implement 10 best practices for for sustainable events including beach cleanups, composting our food waste, eliminating single-use plastics, providing more water refilling stations, eliminating paper results and having 1:1 ratio of recycling to trash bins. We achieved Bronze Certification for organising a Clean Regatta and we are now looking forward to achieving Silver and Gold in the future, and eventually Platinum!
We are currently working closely with a global management consulting firm to define our sustainability footprint and strategy, and exploring ways for our organisation to become fully sustainable. In this study, we are not only focusing on the Environment, but also taking into consideration social and governance issues, using the ESG (Environmental, Social, Governance) framework. This allows us to look at sustainability in a holistic manner.
Sustainability is critical for our organisation. We understand the state of our world today. The impact of climate change is real and we are seeing repercussions everywhere – forest fires, loss of habitat, famine, drought, poverty. We might just be one small organisation trying to do our part in bettering the world, but we are optimistic that every initiative we put out will create a ripple effect.
Imagine the impact we can make collectively if every sailor, family and organisation we touch makes an effort. For a start, we can target the low-hanging fruit. Organisations and National Sports Associations can encourage staff to stop using single-use plastics and keep the pantry stocked with metal utensils and cups. We can also conserve energy by switching off unused electrical appliances. We can reduce and recycle in creative ways as well. For instance, we repurposed old Optimist boats to hold plants for our Community Garden.
A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Let’s all take one small step today for a more sustainable future!