Sustainability is about ensuring the environment of today is here for the future generation’s of tomorrow and Challenge Wales is keen to play its part in the social, economic, environmental and cultural well-being of Wales. But as our sail training voyages move through UK and international waters we can take our sustainability ethos with us as part of a legacy and engage with a wide range of young people and youth organisations.

It can be easy to talk about these things but what exactly are we doing?

The UN’s Sustainable Development Goals

The United Nations has 17 Sustainable Development Goals and plays a big role in encouraging sustainable progress. Although we may indirectly contribute to some of these through the different young people’s groups, organisations and businesses we work with, our primary focus is on Goal number 14: Life Below Water

However, other goals we work with through our sail training programme and activities are; Goal 4 – Quality Education, Goal 5 – Gender Equality, Goal 10 – Reduced Inequalities and Goal 17 – Partnerships for the Goals.

Onboard and Ashore - Minimising Impact

  • We recycle onboard our vessels and in our office and make use of recycling facilities ashore
  • We never throw anything overboard
  • We have a Garbage Management Policy

Educating Others

  • Accredited learning with Agored Cymru. On 31st May 2018 we are launching our ‘environmental project’ which will provide an educational activity for 14 – 25 year olds based on plastics and marine litter. We believe we are the first organisation in Wales to integrate plastic awareness into this particular accredited learning programme
  • We’re part of a global citizen Science project measuring plankton. Our results help inform scientists on climate change.
  • We work with others including Cardiff University, Darwin Centre (Pembrokeshire), Plymouth University with marine activities and have even had an exciting onboard lecture by an amazing Plankton Professor; Dr Richard Kirby!
  • We’ve brought  marine science to life, engaging with young people and giving them a practical learning activity to put on their CV. Read the case study here…
  • Our youth work not only encompasses those in schools, universities and colleges but also young people who have low literacy levels, low qualifications, learning disabilities, autistic, deaf, blind and visually impaired as well as those from low income families or who are marginalised – ensuring accessibility for as many young people as possible

How our activities link in with local and regional initiatives

  • We first achieved Blue Flag Status in 2016, a programme of the Foundation for Environmental Education and abide by their code of conduct (International Project).
  • We are engaged with Keep Wales Tidy with our marine plastic activities (see below) (Wales-wide Project)
  • Our activities link in with the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015 (Wales Wide Project)
  • One of our Trustees is member of the Ocean Literacy in Sail Training pilot project group (Sail Training Project)

Unfantastic Plastic Awareness

 In 2018 Challenge Wales:
* Banned the use of single use plastic water bottles onboard
* Provided Joining Instructions to clients advising them not to bring plastic bottles onboard the boat
* Talked to group leaders and young people about one-use plastic water bottles and why we are taking the above action
* Provided young people with a re-useable (free) drinks bottle. Thank you to Cardiff Boat and Rat Pack Dog Services for providing some financial support to get this off the ground
* Banned plastic straws onboard
* Banned balloons and water balloons
* Undertook beach cleans and observations in various ports that we visit
* Provided awareness raising activities through sail training to disadvantaged young people who are not in school and aren’t aware of issues around one-use plastic
* Own accredited learning programme engaged young people and Challenge Wales to look at Challenge Wales’ own impact on the environment with its activities

In 2019 Challenge Wales:

  • Piloted some microplastics sampling as part of a citizen science project with Portsmouth University
  • Launched its microplastics survey project with young people undertaking residential sail training voyages with us
  • Continued to build on actions put in place in 2018

….and yes, that is a picture of the bow of Challenge Wales with some ducks swimming by amongst plastic and wood debris

In 2020 Challenge Wales:

  • Launched interactive hands-on outdoor shore-side sessions ‘Sea & Tell’ which brought sustainability and one-use plastic awareness to boat-based learning activities

In 2021 Challenge Wales: 

  • Received recognition from Sail Training International of its commitment to protect the ocean and a Blue Flag (year not designated as Blue Flag programme currently changing).

Buy and Support Local

We are very proud of our ‘Welshiness’. We love Wales and our local environment and when we attend events or other ports we are fully aware that we are representing Penarth, Cardiff, Wales and in some cases the UK. Our sustainability behaviours travel with us!

We are mindful of where products come from and aim to balance this where possible with cost. We aim to use Welsh suppliers, services and trades for boat & office items as much as possible. We are happy to learn from others to further improve our own sustainability practice and leave an even better legacy.