Sustainability Conference offers window into sustainable superyacht industry initiatives

The Monaco Yacht Show – held from 28 September to 1 October – may have closed the doors on the 2022 edition but the Show also marked the opening of several new initiatives. Among them was a Sustainability Conference held on Tuesday 27 September, on the eve of the Show’s opening.

The Monaco Yacht Show and Water Revolution Foundation, together with SYBAss and Superyacht Life Foundation, were the key partners behind the Sustainability Conference – an open-door panel discussion that aimed to inform the wider media and interested industry personnel alike with a snapshot of how the industry is making progress in the area of sustainability.

The representatives on the panel included iconic naval architect Philippe Briand; CEO of the Baltic Yachts shipyard Anders Kurtén; Gaëlle Tallarida, Managing Director of the Monaco Yacht Show; Robert van Tol, Executive Director of Water Revolution Foundation; and Giedo Loeff, who works as Head of Research and Development at Dutch superyacht builder Feadship. The panel was hosted and moderated by Tony Harris, Superyacht Industry Ambassador at Informa Markets.

Environmental initiatives at Monaco Yacht Show 

The first part of the discussion included short updates from each of the panelists, who gave an insight into key developments and thought processes that are driving the industry forward. Among those, outlined by Gaëlle Tallarida, was an introduction to a new initiative for the 2022 Monaco Yacht Show – the Sustainability Hub. Created in order to highlight innovative projects and start-ups offering sustainable solutions to the superyacht industry, the Hub’s exhibitors had all been vetted by Water Revolution Foundation, the non-profit organisation that is developing various tools to help the industry reduce its environmental footprint.

Tallarida also described the Show’s efforts to become more sustainable, including measures it is taking to reduce its own impact, its commitment to the Monaco Pact in collaboration with the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation, and its work with Water Revolution Foundation on setting up the Sustainability Hub.

“We are committed to a more sustainable event, and we already have solutions in place,” said Tallarida. “Moreover, the Sustainability Hub showcases sustainable solutions and eco-friendly projects that help minimise the superyacht environmental footprint with the support of the yachting industry and with the help of Water Revolution Foundation. The Hub has start-ups specialising in technology, solutions and eco-friendly concepts to reduce the environmental footprint of superyachts, and it is set to take a leading role in showcasing innovative and future superyachting solutions.”

Tackling sustainability in the superyacht industry 

For Robert van Tol of Water Revolution Foundation, the Conference was a chance to explain how the Foundation is driving both measurement and cooperation within the industry to highlight the importance of full lifecycle assessment, develop the tools that will enable builders and suppliers to make tangible differences in their collective footprint, and foster a community of shared research that will benefit the whole industry.

“Yachting is the only maritime sector that has a dedicated non-profit organisation for tackling its environmental impact, and there’s a huge amount you can gain in terms of efficiency to share what has been worked on – and the results of – research and development,” said Van Tol. “And where commercial ships just use the oceans to transport goods from A to B, yachting has an extra connection – it is our back garden. As an organisation we focus on reducing the negative impacts on the ocean but also on ocean conservation, which is an opportunity to have a positive impact. This is a growing initiative and more and more companies are coming on board.”

Eco-friendly design 

Philippe Briand presented technical detail on how yacht design can make a significant difference in the efficiency of vessels, in particular when low-resistance hull design typical in sailing yacht naval architecture is applied to motor yacht hulls. He also explained some of the advancements being made in capturing green energy by harnessing the wind and through hydrogeneration when sailing, alongside solar energy. It speaks to reducing the demand for and dependence on fossil fuels, a key consideration as yachting looks to make the energy transition to renewables and carbon-neutral power.

It was a facet that was emphasised further by Giedo Loeff, who explored how Feadship’s own research over the past 15 years has focused on the transition to renewable fuels, epitomised by the recent Pure yacht concept which lays out a roadmap to 2030 with a propulsion system that begins now using renewable, fossil-free diesel and progresses through alternative fuels such as methanol and hydrogen.

A greener approach to yacht construction

Anders Kurtén also addressed the build side of the industry, outlining how Baltic Yachts has been taking steps to incorporate more renewable, recycled or alternative materials in yacht construction – for example, using flax in place of glass fibre or carbon in hull and frame construction and monitoring the development of bio-resins to replace vinylester. “A superyacht is a product that exists for one reason – to put a smile on the owner’s face,” Kurtén enthused. “Seeing as the world is changing, we’d like to act in a way by which they can continue to buy a yacht with a good conscience. We believe that our customers represent about 0,003 percent of the global population but as they control 15 percent of global assets, their actions are lighting the way as thought leaders. There’s no silver bullet but sustainability is achieved by focusing on multiple small details all combined. And our customers collaborate with us to create sustainable solutions.”

Added Van Tol: “The goal is that this is a collaborative platform that attracts like-minded companies and individuals to work together.”

Together toward a sustainable future 

“Our aim with the Conference was to show that the industry is really making progress in this area of sustainability, and to inform the media and the wider public about all of the new developments that are going on in the background both with existing and established builders and suppliers but also with new companies that are innovating in this sector and attracting investment in this sector,” said Tony Harris. “All of the ideas presented at the Conference are happening.”