The catamaran 'Race for Water' is powered exclusively by renewable energy, thanks to a combination of solar panels, a towing kite and hydrogen it can produce from seawater. (Photo courtesy of the Swiss Embassy)

'Race for Water' Stops Over in Jakarta During Global Campaign Against Marine Plastic Pollution


JUNE 21, 2019

Jakarta. "Race for Water," a solar-powered hybrid catamaran, arrived in Jakarta this week as part of a global campaign to raise awareness of the impact of plastic waste on the marine environment.

The vessel, which serves as an envoy of the Lausanne, Switzerland-based foundation of the same name, arrived in Jakarta on Wednesday for a planned technical stopover lasting until August. The vessel is currently on a five-year expedition to assess the levels of plastic pollution in the oceans and raise awareness.

It arrived in Indonesia in early June, first calling on Bali. Members of its crew also visited the Citarum River in West Java, dubbed the world's most polluted.

"Pollution is a major issue in the region. We will be working over the coming days to bring people together and to look at solutions on a practical level. Our aim is to find local solutions to a worldwide disaster," Swiss entrepreneur Marco Simeoni, who founded the Race for Water Foundation, said in a statement on Friday. 

The foundation plans to hold facilitating workshops and allow school children to board the vessel over the next six weeks while it is in port.

The catamaran is powered exclusively by renewable energy, thanks to a combination of solar panels, a towing kite and hydrogen it can produce from seawater. The vessel is circumventing the globe to demonstrate that sustainable solutions to the world's marine pollution problem are possible.



Swiss Ambassador Kurt Kunz said the ship serves to showcase clean technology and ways to deal with plastic waste, including the pyrolysis process, which is used to turn plastic waste into energy.

"We support measures against climate change and for the protection of water and the oceans. We also encourage reducing subsidies on fossil fuels, as they create undesired incentives and make it more difficult for cleaner, renewable energies, such as solar, wind or water power, to be competitive," Kunz said. 

Safri Burhanuddin, deputy minister for human resources, sciences and technology and maritime culture at the Coordinating Ministry of Maritime Affairs, welcomed the catamaran's arrival on Friday and expressed hope that it could inspire more Indonesians to tackle marine pollution. 

"We have become acutely aware that solving the plastic pollution problem cannot be done by the government alone; we also need support from all members of society.… What this odyssey does, is show how we can all work together," Safri said. 

Indonesia is said to be the world's second-largest marine polluter, dumping an estimated 3.2 million tons of plastic into the ocean every year. The government has committed $1 billion annually to clean up its seas.

Last year, the government launched a program to clean up the Citarum River, deploying members of the military along its banks to coordinate efforts to remove waste before it can reach the sea.