Over 30 young activists set sail on epic seven-week journey from Netherlands to COP in Chile

A group of over 30 young changemakers from across Europe set sail on an epic 7-week journey to the other side of the world on October 2, travelling for seven weeks from the Netherlands to the United Nation’s Climate Change Conference, also known as COP 25, in Chile.

The participants, who are aged 18 to 31, hope to raise awareness of the negative impact of air travel on our planet through their more than 12,000km journey entitled ‘Sail to the COP’.

Sail to Cop boat in Amsterdam, heading to COP25

“We have to show politicians that we do not agree with the current lack of regulation in the travel industry,” said 24-year-old Mara de Pater from the Netherlands, one of the organisers behind the project. “We’re ready for a change in the travel industry towards fair and sustainable travel.”

Embarking on their journey from Amsterdam, the participants’ Regina Maris sailing boat will make four stops along the way: Casablanca, Tenerife, Cabo Verde and Recife, before arriving in Rio de Janeiro by around November 20th. For the final leg of the journey to Santiago, they will travel overland by bus.

Participants were selected through an application process and have a diverse range of backgrounds, including artists and students of international relations, politics, environmental science and psychology. They come from countries such as France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Denmark, Finland and Germany.

From Belgium, prominent climate activists Anuna De Wever and Adélaïde Charlier, who were heavily involved in the organisation of the country’s climate strikes ‘Fridays for Future’, are among those taking part.

De Wever told UNRIC she had asked fellow climate activist Greta Thunberg for some tips after the 16-year-old recently completed a two-week sailing trip to New York to participate in two major climate summits at the UN headquarters.

Anuna De Wever on boat for Sail to Cop (COP25)

“I think the sailing trip will be really intense because I will be cut off from the world, but I talked to Greta about it and she told me that the two weeks on the boat were actually really relaxing for her, to just being away from the media and from all the pressure and so I hope it’s going to be the same for me,” 18-year-old De Wever said.

Participants on the trip are not required to have sailing experience but will assist the experienced and accredited crew and learn to sail onboard. Fellow participant and environmental campaigner Peter Paul Vossepoel from Belgium said “I’m really looking forward to the trip. It will be an epic journey.”

At the UN Climate Change Conference in Chile’s capital city Santiago (December 2-13), officials from across the world will gather to review progress in the fight against climate change, while the young participants will call for fair taxation of aviation and the promotion of sustainable ways of travelling.

“We really deserve a seat at the table, to talk to our world leaders, to show them the sense of urgency, because if we’re not doing that there’s no pressure and nothing will happen and that’s been proven,” De Wever said, adding:

“The whole world is working together on this problem, and it shows that this younger generation doesn’t care about boundaries, about countries, they just want to work together to save the world.”

To find out more about Sail to the Cop, visit: https://www.sailtothecop.com/

For more information on COP 25, visit: https://www.cop25.cl/en/

To learn more about the UN’s Climate Action summits, visit: https://www.un.org/en/climatechange/un-climate-summit-2019.shtml

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