Alexandra Aguilar del Valle is the founder and consultant of Green Nautical Miles, and she recognizes how “sailing is one of the most exciting adventures a human can experience”, which I am sure many of the listeners of her Ships2Shores webinar on Oceans, Sustainable Development, and Sailing could agree with. She shared insights on how Canadians should indulge in their love for sailing with a conscience for environmental sustainability. As a maritime nation, it is the shared responsibility of all seafarers to uphold Canada’s maritime identity with respect to the sustainability of our waters and coastline. In fact, Alexandra indicated how “no sailor’s education is complete without understanding [their] impact on the oceans.”
Alexandra explained how many of Canada’s economic and civic pursuits occur on the water, including fishing, sailing, shipping, agriculture, activities conducted by the oil and gas industry and the Canadian military, and much more. Further, according to polls, there is a large percentage of the Canadian population who feel very little connection to their coasts. As such a large country, many are landlocked and although Canada has the longest coastline in the world, there are still people who lack awareness of the country’s involvement at sea. Nevertheless, most Canadians would agree that there are substantial risks associated with shipping over water, including terrible oil spills which pose tremendous detriment to the natural oceanic environment. How is a country supposed to maintain its economic prowess while also being concerned about the sustainability of their practices?
Going off of this tangent, it is important to note that sustainable development, via the Brundtland report of 1987, is defined as “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” Therefore, Canada and the world must further its economic efforts while keeping in mind the livelihood of future generations: we cannot deplete the current volume of natural resources for our own current benefit. This statement coincides heavily with the curriculum of my university class Economics of the Environment, which aims to discover economically efficient yet environmentally sustainable solutions for Canadian industries.
Alexandra introduced the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which have been adopted by the 193 member states, requiring them to make tangible contributions to see the SDGs become a reality by 2030. Within these goals, the Canadian government is investing $1.5 billion in the National Oceans Protection Plan which includes marine training. As a country with so much available ocean spanse, it is key that we become a leader in ocean sustainability. Within the sailing world, efforts for sustainability have also been enacted. For instance, World Sailing’s agenda is closely affiliated with many pillars of the SDGs, and most sailing organizations have adopted practices that align with them.
As a member of the Ships2Shores National Skippers’ Council, I am happy to contribute to raising awareness and encouraging action on Canada’s oceanic environment. That is why these Ships2Shores webinars are useful, as they provide easily digestible information for youth, and feature thought-provoking topics and conversations. By mobilizing youth to tackle current sustainability goals in Canadian waters, we can hope for endless decades of marine activity along our coasts.
Make sure to check out the Ships2Shores’ Activity Calendar (https://ships2shores.ca/activities/) to see what other exciting and informative webinars we have in store!