The tiny island of Sylt, a United Nations Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) world heritage site, has been hosting the world windsurfing championship since 1984 along its 40 km, low-lying coast that makes for ideal windsurfing conditions. This year’s event, attended by 200,000 people, attracted 32 competing nations, as well as global media coverage for its messaging on climate action and pollution-free seas.
Sylt is vulnerable to sea-level rise: the increasing severity and frequency of storm surges threaten to engulf villages and wash away beaches as well as the biodiversity of its dunes and tidal flats.
This year’s event was the most sustainable yet. Partnering with UNEP’s Clean Seas campaign, event organizers banned plastic bottles and disposable cutlery, dramatically reduced plastic waste. They organized a beach clean-up, ensured all litter was removed from the beach after the event, recycled all advertising material and planted mangroves through sponsorships as natural CO2 compensation. The event was powered exclusively by green electricity.