The first stage of Water Revolution Foundation’s Yacht Environmental Transparency Index (YETI) has been unveiled to the superyacht industry at the recent Superyacht Forum and METSTRADE. It came with a call to action to all relevant superyacht industry actors to get involved. Against the backdrop of COP26 and an increasingly global drive to tackle environmental issues, YETI 1.0 marks the first step of a highly anticipated tool to compare yachts based on their environmental credentials when in operation. The tool will enable client and project teams to make more informed decisions for newbuild projects as well as for upgrading existing yachts, and as such will help drive our industry as a whole towards a cleaner future.
Together towards sustainability
As the foundation celebrated its third anniversary during The Superyacht Forum in Amsterdam, and while speaking to an audience of key industry stakeholders alongside METSTRADE, Feadship CEO and founding chairman Henk de Vries, initiator and vice-chair Dr Vienna Eleuteri and naval architect Giedo Loeff from Feadship De Voogt all emphasised how important the issue is becoming for the future of the superyacht industry. It is among the most impactful tools Water Revolution Foundation is currently developing for the whole industry to use, to help improve the industry as a whole.
How YETI started
The drive to create the index began in 2018, not long after the foundation was born as a not-for-profit organisation with the intent to drive sustainability across the superyacht industry through reducing its environmental impact and re-investing in ocean conservation. YETI stemmed from an approach Feadship De Voogt naval architect Bram Jongepier made to a group of international peers to develop a tool that enables the comparison of yachts and that can better showcase environmentally friendly designs.
After three years of research and intense collaboration across a broad scope of shipyards, naval architects and renowned research institutes, the initial tool is now ready for testing. The collaborators for the initial phase were Abeking & Rasmussen, Benetti, Damen Yachting, De Voogt Studio, Delft University of Technology, Dykstra Naval Architects, Feadship, Fincantieri Yachts, Heesen, Lateral Naval Architects, Lürssen, Marin, MB92, Oceanco, Royal Huisman, Safe Harbor Marinas, Sanlorenzo, TNO Innovation for Life, and Vitruvius Yachts.
YETI 1.0 focuses on the most impactful part of the lifecycle – the operational side of superyachts. “The initial tool calculates the efficiency and the emissions of superyachts, and by being able to calculate these one can also identify the actual environmental impact,” said Giedo Loeff, naval architect at Feadship De Voogt. “A lot of companies answered our requests (for collaboration) and it was a lot of fun to talk about the various subjects. It’s not something we should want to compete over – it’s about knowledge, and really understanding how to reduce the impact we’re creating.”
From the owners’ point of view, De Vries highlighted the change that Feadship has witnessed in the attitudes of yacht clients over the past five years, from where alternative fuels and power solutions were considered too risky by most clients to where sustainability is a key factor in the equation not only for their superyachts but also across their investments.
Dr Vienna Eleuteri, speaking from an industry point of view, added: “The real need coming out of COP26 in Glasgow is that it is the private sector that will make the difference and which will change the world in a very practical and efficient way. We are a really passionate group of people working for the same strategic goal.”
A key part of the first phase has been collating operational information and studying the equivalent of close to 400 combined years of data collected via AIS from more than 100 superyachts. Among other things, the data showed that yachts are typically only underway at speed for 10 per cent of their time, with 56 per cent spent in port and 34 per cent spent at anchor. It is this sort of insight against which it is crucial to benchmark the yachts when assessing the impact from their cruise and hotel operations systems.
YETI wants to be inclusive for the many different types of yachts that are built and therefore it is critical to have all those represented in the fleet review. It should be noted that none gets judged yet, as first the calculator needs to be tested for its robustness by a representative fleet. While YETI 1.0 is a major first step, it is just the first step. It is in this regard that the whole industry now needs to take part. The more data gathered, the more confident YETI can move into the phase of scores and ultimately the different categories, also called labels.
Critical data needed
The data needed for a YETI score consists of energy inputs (fuel, shore power), system power demand (speed-power curve, electric hotel power and heat), and system power (propulsion motors, electric generators, heaters) – all combined with an operating profile. The data collection sheet will be shared upon request with those that wish to contribute to this important development. A feedback report on the yacht(s) is provided and a unique number allocated to follow its score along the further fine tuning of the YETI tool.
Henk de Vries, as chairman of the foundation and a self-proclaimed “worried shipbuilder”, addressed the required survival strategy for the eight years that remain of this decade. “If we do nothing,” he offered, “and we just build the boats that we currently build, then we will be history. There is a solution, and it’s not complicated.”
“The YETI score is something that we want to extend because the more data that we have, the better we can raise individual yachts,” said Loeff. “This is what could be in the future. But there needs to be more data, and there needs to be more participation. Now we are calling for participation.”
It is time to test the YETI 1.0 calculator through an extensive fleet review. The more yachts entered in the index, the better the calculator logic applies. So this is a call for shipyards, yacht management companies, and captains to submit as many yachts as possible, as well as for engine manufacturers to share the data emissions sheets of the engines installed in current and future yachts in the fleet.
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A group of prominent shipyards has committed to setup a structural approach for reinvestment into the regeneration and conservation of our precious oceans. They now call on fellow yacht builders to join them in this important commitment.
Abeking & Rasmussen, Ameryachts, Baglietto, Feadship, Gulf Craft, Heesen Yachts, Horizon Yachts, Lürssen Yachts, Oceanco, Royal Huisman, Sanlorenzo, Silveryachts, Southern Wind, Tankoa, Turquoise Yachts, and Vitters are the first builders that have agreed to reinvest based on the Gross Tonnage (GT) of yachts they deliver.
The importance and logic of ocean conservation for the yachting sector
From 2021 onwards, the United Nations declared the next 10 years the ‘Ocean Decade’, aiming to catalyse transformative ocean science solutions for sustainable development. Oceans absorb more than 90% of the excess heat generated by global warming and are taking in over 25% of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, making them the planet’s largest carbon sinks. In short, the oceans’ health determines all life on Earth.
The builders are also well aware that without healthy oceans there is no sustainable future for the yachting sector. It is therefore logical that the entire yachting community would take on the role of ocean stewards – not as philanthropy, but as an investment in our common future.
“Today, an innovative approach towards ecological transition is about acknowledging the ocean-climate nexus and the central role of marine ecosystem conservation for a healthy planet,” says Dr Vienna Eleuteri, Water Revolution Foundation’s initiator and sustainability scientist. “I am very pleased with this group of builders taking the lead in setting up structural reinvestment by the yachting sector to regenerate our oceans.”
Taking real action means simultaneously reducing our environmental impact while regenerating the oceans’ capacity to recover from negative impacts. For the latter, we need to embrace nature’s very own solutions and weapons against climate change. Marine mammals and their marine ecosystems play a crucial role and therefore their natural habitats need to be protected as blue carbon ecosystems.
Import Marine Mammal Areas
The entirety of funds collected will go to Important Marine Mammal Areas (IMMAs), endorsed by Water Revolution Foundation and promoted as one of the most effective programmes for ocean conservation among the entire yachting community to support.
IMMAs is an existing programme of the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) Task Force on Marine Mammal Protected Areas. The premise of this programme is simple: when seeking to protect the ocean, we need to know where to start.
Through identifying the areas important for marine mammals, these can be prioritised for protection measures by governments, intergovernmental organisations, conservation groups, and marine stakeholders. This does not automatically mean banning human activities – in fact, it is about aligning human activities with the needs of nature, so-called ‘sustainable ocean use’. By being aware and adapting to nature’s needs, all marine human activity – including yachting – can operate in a much more conscious way at these critical areas. The IMMA programme works very well too for yacht crew to participate through citizen science.
With 159 IMMAs already established across the Southern Hemisphere, the scientists behind the IMMA programme are now looking to the Northern Hemisphere. In total, there are nine regions of the ocean still to be mapped. The North Atlantic is next up, which is the common crossing route for yachts and superyachts between the Mediterranean and Caribbean seasons.
What is the commitment?
The shipyards are committing to contributing the amount of €1 per gross ton they delivered in 2021. For each new yacht delivered, the yards will match the gross tonnage in euros and reinvest this via Water Revolution Foundation into IMMA for its North Atlantic project which starts in early 2022.
The amount of €1 per GT is based on the €555,000 target funding needed to start the two-year North Atlantic IMMA project. This target amount was divided by the 455,000 total expected GT to be delivered in 2021 and rounded off to €1. The builders that committed have so far delivered around 60,000 GT in 2021.
Call to action
The first committed yacht builders now call on their colleagues to join in on this commitment and choose the coordinated approach to raise the required funding for this important ocean conservation programme. The yards also encourage other players in the yachting sector to band together and make a similar commitment to protect what is most dear and critical to our common future.
At a time where the focus is on countries and politicians at the COP26 in Glasgow for international action to tackle climate change, industry plays a key role too. Instead of waiting for legislation, taking our own measures to reduce and regenerate will be more constructive, more appreciated and therefore most effective.
Note that this coordinated contribution to ocean conservation is not meant to offset the impact of the yachts delivered nor their production processes, but to structure reinvestment by builders into the most critical natural resource for the yachting sector and to reach the target funding for IMMAs, as the first collectively supported ocean conservation programme.
Water Revolution Foundation, has teamed up with the renowned Goodvertising Agency and its sustainability communication guru, Thomas Kolster, to create sustainability communications guidelines. The guidelines aim to help the yachting sector communicate more effectively about their sustainability effort.
The marketing directors of the Foundation’s three anchor partners, Benetti, MB92 and Oceanco, were involved in the development to ensure the guidelines are aligned with the specifics of the yachting industry.
“Businesses are pressured to act more sustainably across the board. It’s great to see the yachting industry rise to the challenge,” said Thomas Kolster about this joint project with the yachting companies and Water Revolution Foundation as the collaborative platform.
The sustainability communication guidelines, which are digital and publicly available, take the user through a chronological path of ten steps for shaping effective messages regarding their sustainability efforts. When all ten boxes are ticked, you can be assured of a constructive message. These steps include some key points such as putting sustainability efforts in perspective, distilling complex environmental issues into simple stories and last but not least making your colleagues and stakeholders part of the sustainability journey. Each step comes with do’s, don’ts, and great examples. While external examples can broaden the sector’s horizon with the cases from the non-yachting industry, internal examples share the applicable yachting-related practices.
“In an industry that is rapidly embarking on its path towards sustainability, the marketing & communication can somewhat outpace the actual progress that’s being made. The majority of yachting companies are currently still in the phase of developing sustainability strategies and setting their short and long term goals. In that way, current communication is mostly about intentions, not yet about real milestones accomplished. That is logical as long as these intentions are communicated realistically and constructively.” said Robert van Tol, executive director of Water Revolution Foundation. “The guidelines will help to avoid negative effects, as these can be far greater than the positive ones, especially outside our yachting bubble. So called ‘greenwashing’ has direct and indirect boomerang effects, which we can avoid by effective communication.”
These guidelines are also meant to help yachting media assess the messages and claims regarding sustainability that come their way through press releases, new concepts and advertising. Follow-up questions supported by these 10 points should be asked to communicate more effectively and beneficially about the sector’s sustainability efforts. After all, every public statement affects the image of yachting, especially when they’re about sustainability.
“A rising tide lifts all boats. It’s promising to see the yachting industry stand together to tackle the greatest challenge of our time,” said Kolster.
You can download the sustainability communication guidelines here.
Superyacht industry business leaders become Water Revolution Foundation’s first anchor partners – all joining the mission of “driving sustainability in superyachting”.
Water Revolution Foundation, the non-profit on a mission to drive and accelerate sustainability in the superyacht industry, has announced the support of nine anchor partners: Abeking&Rasmussen, Alexseal, Amels | Damen, Benetti, Feadship, Heesen, Lürssen, MB92 and Rybovich. These forward-thinking companies have not only recognised the urgency to reduce the industry’s ecological footprint, but have pledged substantial multi-year commitment and financial contributions. Together, these nine leading companies have made a bold statement on what the future of superyachting will look like.
“This leadership is exactly what the superyacht industry urgently needs to accelerate sustainability efforts”, said Robert van Tol, executive director of Water Revolution Foundation. “Reducing our footprint is a collective challenge and requires real cooperation. I’d like to thank our first anchor partners for sharing this vision, making it possible to start this ambitious programme and call on other companies to join this revolution too”.
With the International Maritime Organization directing the maritime industry to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 50% by 2050 from 2008’s levels, as well as the continued increase in marine protected areas, the time for the superyacht industry to act is now. “Sustainability is something we can no longer view as optional. But, more importantly, our industry is well positioned to take the lead with a smart and affluent clientele and our unique connection with the ocean”, said van Tol. “Our foundation is open to all industry companies. Sustainability is not a competitive advantage; it is a responsibility, a minimum standard that we need to continuously improve upon collectively.”
Water Revolution Foundation’s activities will revolve around three areas of focus: promoting new technology and empowering innovation; pro-actively creating the industry’s own sustainability agenda, going beyond legislative requirements; and reinvesting in ocean conservation.
The inaugural year will see the foundation develop an assessment tool that can measure the impact of design and build choices along with the footprint of existing yachts and effectiveness of technical solutions. The first industry-tailored sustainability management course, part of an industry educational programme, will also be launched. Water Revolution’s first joint industry project will be to determine a yacht’s operational profile and how to compare yachts with one another. A database for verified sustainable solutions will also be developed, facilitating designers, builders and refitters with the knowledge needed to accelerate the shift towards sustainability.
Water Revolution Foundation started from within the superyacht industry and is led by a board of directors comprised of key industry figures, including Henk de Vries (Feadship), Philippe Briand (Philippe Briand Design), Vienna Eleuteri (sustainability scientist), Martin Redmayne (The Superyacht Group). At the latest board meeting, two new board members were appointed: Peter Lürssen (Lürssen Yachts) and Wayne Huizenga III (Rybovich).
A scientific board will provide Water Revolution Foundation with insights and guidance, along with assessing which ocean conservation and research projects are worthy of the industry’s investment.
Companies who operate in the superyacht industry are invited to become partners to support this much-needed revolution. Individuals can sign up for the Water Revolution Foundation newsletter to stay updated on future developments.