Champions For Positive Change
At the heart of SailGP’s vision towards a better sport and a better planet is its global thought leadership programme, Champions for Change. Taking place the day before the race weekend, the flagship event was a highlight of the SailGP programme here in Ōtautahi Christchurch.
Held at Te Pae Christchurch Convention Centre, Champions for Change brought together over 120 business leaders and sustainability champions to share expertise and innovations and talk about their approach to climate action and inclusivity in sport.
SailGP’s ambition is to be the world's most sustainable and purpose-driven global sports and entertainment platform. ChristchurchNZ leveraged the major international profile SailGP has built to align with its ambition and put the spotlight on local climate action, innovation and technology.
In Christchurch, ocean health and renewable energy – two very relevant themes for New Zealand were to the fore. The city has a wealth of knowledge and intellectual property in these areas and so Champions for Change created a unique networking opportunity for local and New Zealand companies to share their cutting-edge technology and ideas around these key themes.
Head of Christchurch Antarctic Gateway - David Tayler
The Antarctic region is a barometer for climate change and it’s super important that we continue to support the science that happens down on that continent. In such a harsh environment it’s very difficult to do science down there, so any way we can make it easier for them the better. Already today there’s been a connection I've made that I'm going to follow up at the end of this, so thankyou to the SailGP platform for allowing that connection to happen.”
The engaging programme saw local innovators, leaders and sustainability champions talk about their approach to tackling the climate crisis and share valuable insights and learnings, and strategies for protecting the oceans.
One of the speakers on the day, Head of Christchurch Antarctic Gateway David Tayler, gave valuable insight into Christchurch’s connection to the Antarctic region. He shared, “The Antarctic region is a barometer for climate change and it’s super important that we continue to support the science that happens down on that continent. In such a harsh environment it’s very difficult to do science down there, so any way we can make it easier for them the better. Already today there’s been a connection I've made that I'm going to follow up at the end of this, so thankyou to the SailGP platform for allowing that connection to happen.”
Other speakers included Sally Paterson, Chief Executive of Live Ocean Foundation, Chris Boyle, Co-founder and Chairman of Fabrum, John Berry, Chief Executive and co-founder of Pathfinder Asset Management, and Allan Scott Co-Founder of Aspiring Materials.
Having worked closely with SailGP through Live Ocean, Sally Paterson shared, “We’ve had the most fantastic morning, lots of ideas shared. It’s left me feeling really inspired and hopeful and excited about the work that people are putting into a better future.”
Between the insightful speakers, a number of other local businesses also presented videos highlighting their sustainable solutions. These included eClean Envirotech - creators of eClean bioreactors which filter out nitrates, phosphates and other contaminants from water, Kea Aerospace - the only high-altitude flight company based in the Southern Hemisphere, Styles Group - who develop technology to monitor sensitive marine environments, including the devices used in Lyttelton Harbour during SailGP, Naut – creators of zero emission, zero noise electric marine technology and Lincoln University’s B.linc Innovation – who are focusing on what’s next for New Zealand’s agriculture, food and fibre sector.
Following the presentations and a sustainably sourced plant-based lunch at Te Pae, participants were given a tour of SailGP’s technical base in Lyttelton. Participants were global and local partners with a particular interest in innovation, technology and partnerships in regard to climate change, climate action student leaders from local secondary schools, business leaders and sustainability champions from global partners and local NGOs.
By hosting Champions for Change, ChristchurchNZ joined an exclusive network of engaged partners and host cities, committed to delivering impact and collaborating to accelerate change together.
ChristchurchNZ CEO, Ali Adams says, “This was a unique event, with a truly authentic commitment to environmental and social good, mirroring the same guiding principles as our city. This was a chance to showcase some amazing local innovators, and to capture the strong sense of purpose here. We learned so much from SailGP and we can take much from it going forward.”
As the region’s economic development agency, ChristchurchNZ has a big part to play in helping to foster and promote sustainability initiatives to help achieve the target to halve the city’s emissions by 2030 and reach net zero emissions by 2045.