• Nicole de Paula

Ecoship: How a Floating Sustainability Laboratory Will Sail for Change

First came Peace Boat. Focused on youth’s role in safeguarding oceans and promoting peace, this passenger ship sailing around the world to promote harmony and sustainability was the precursors of a more ambitious project: the Ecoship.

Still under construction, this bigger cruise ship expects to become operational by 2020 and will sail to raise awareness about climate change and the need to implement the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Yoshioka Tatsuya, Founder and Director of both initiatives, has been on board of both projects since his young years. As an activist, his personal journey leading to the creation of Peace Boat, an organization promoting social and environmental connection focused on sustainable use of the ocean and human resilience, has evolved to an unimagined level. For him, Ecoship and Peace Boat, which has already sailed around the world innumerous times, are “small floating villages” fostering community-building and solid friendships, which are both essential elements to spur international cooperation.

During the UN Climate Talks (COP 23) in Bonn, Germany, in November 2017, I had the chance to discuss with Tatsuya his vision for these inspiring activities. In our conversation, he emphasized the need to understand “in-the-field” effects of natural disasters, especially in small island developing states (SIDS). He stressed the need for imagination in overcoming the ongoing environmental destruction and urged all of us to “hear the voices” of those dependent on the ocean. For him, these vulnerable populations could even be compared to survivors of nuclear attacks!

On the same boat, there are many others equally committed to make the voices of islanders heard. Kya Lal, Peace Boat’s Youth Ambassador from Fiji, recalled during the same climate conference individuals who suffered from the impacts of nuclear weapons, stating the similarities with the climate change crisis. She defended more platforms to share the experiences of islanders and commended the opportunities that Ecoship brings to this endeavor. Lal shows us that the youth is an essential piece of awareness raising campaigns battling to conserve oceans and promote disaster risk prevention.

After watching the preview of the movie “Against the Tide: a Journey for Climate Hope," a documentary soon to be distributed in schools and film festivals to promote peace, climate change awareness, and ocean preservation, I had tears in my eyes. It is indeed moving to feel the energy of passionate individuals who dare to recreate new realities engaging in missions that go beyond themselves.

Being in touch with the Ecoship project was energizing. I could only think about how our own initiative “Resilient Nomads” on environmental literacy and sustainable solutions can join forces to improve the world around us in a dynamic, solution-oriented and culturally progressive manner. Undeniably, human community spirit and resilience are essential ingredients for a more cooperative and peaceful world. Nature has no borders! We must break the silos among disciplines and cultures to have a chance to overcome the dangerous environmental and human crises that we are witnessing today. I suggest that all resilient nomads become future passengers of the Ecoship and I hope we can book our rooms soon!

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