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“Sailing for change” Celebrating the UN Sustainable Development Goals and Peace Boat’s 40th Anniversary in New York City

Immediately following the United Nations General Assembly High-level Week, including the SDG and Climate Ambition Summits, Peace Boat’s new ship the M/V Pacific World visited New York City on September 30, 2023 for the first time since the pandemic as part of its 115th Global Voyage, having departed from Japan in mid-August. The occasion also marked Peace Boat’s 40th Anniversary, since our first voyage set sail on September 2, 1983.

We were truly excited to welcome more than 500 guests from New York to participate in a special event bringing together partners working to find innovative solutions to accelerate climate action, share best practices for responsible ocean stewardship, and build momentum for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The event was opened by remarks from United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Global Communications, Ms. Melissa Fleming, who congratulated Peace Boat for “relentlessly promoting a peaceful and livable planet for 40 years, traveling to 250 ports in over 80 countries”. She was also pleased to learn about Ecoship, designed to be the most environmentally sustainable cruise ship on earth and taking over the mission of sailing for change.

Yoshioka Tatsuya, the founder and director of Peace Boat Ecoship gave a keynote speech highlighting the need for cooperation among all stakeholders and for bold initiatives like Ecoship if we want to rise up to the challenge embodied by the IMO updated strategy of net zero emissions by or around 2050.

This opening was followed by two panels featuring representatives from the youth, diplomatic, business and science communities, introducing their concrete initiatives and visions for blue economy – ocean innovation and partnership for the SDGs. A highlight was the presentation by Youth Ocean Leaders from the Ocean Policy Research Institute (OPRI), seven young ocean advocates from diverse regions of the world, who travelled onboard Peace Boat from Guatemala several weeks before, participating in a programme of learning and exchange on issues such as Marine Protected Areas (MPAs), ecosystem restoration, community- and nature-based solutions and the Blue Economy, including experiential study in Guatemala, Panama, Jamaica and Miami.

The Blue Economy session saw Ted Janulis of Explorers Club dive into how to finance sustainable oceans.

Fabien Cousteau introduced two of his main projects: Proteus, an underwater habitat and marine laboratory that will be the “international space station of the ocean” and Mission 31, the world’s only underwater laboratory that enables longer periods of ocean research.

Blue Planet Alliance Founder Henk Rogers spoke about the power of unity and shared responsibility as illustrated by Hawaii’s 100% clean energy story and the organization’s mission to get islands and countries around the world to legislatively mandate a commitment to 100% renewable energy by 2045.

In celebration of Peace Boat’s 40th anniversary, participants also had the chance to view traditional Japanese festival and cultural activities such as noh, taiko and kagamibiraki sake barrel opening. Accompanied by music by Camila Celin and DJ Tim Sharp, with visuals by Vexta, the partnership reception presented opportunities for networking and exchange between speakers, participants, and partners from various fields and backgrounds. As stated by Under-Secretary-General Fleming, “We need all hands on deck!”.

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