Ellen MacArthur, 2022 Princess Award for International Cooperation

Ellen MacArthur, Princess of Cooperation Award 2022. / AFP/Video: EP

After retiring from the sport, the former British sailor created a foundation that bears her name and that promotes the circular economy in governments, institutions and companies

In the face of climate change, the fight for a fairer and more sustainable planet prevails and the former British sailor Ellen MacArthur (Derbyshire, 1976) has just won the 2022 Princess of Asturias Award for International Cooperation for her work at the head of the foundation that leads his name, created in 2010 with the aim of accelerating the transition to the circular economy in governments, institutions and companies.

Convinced that it has become one of the most effective solutions to guarantee sustainable development and that "the present economic model of 'extract, produce, waste' is already reaching the limit of its physical capacity", MacArthur and his people work since then to generate benefits for different people, places and cultures around the planet. And that means decoupling economic activity from the consumption of finite resources and eliminating waste from the system by design. Underpinned by a transition to renewable sources of energy, the circular model builds economic, natural, and social capital and is based on three principles: eliminate waste and pollution by design, keep products and materials in use, and regenerate natural systems.

With a diverse team of over 25 nationalities based at its headquarters on the Isle of Wight, UK, the foundation already works hand-in-hand with partners from Latin America, North America, Asia and Europe in sectors ranging from fashion to food, including promoting electric mobility in cities.

Only in the old continent, they explain on the foundation's website, "the current growth model is linear and dependent on finite resources, which exposes countries to resource volatility, limited productivity growth and a large loss of value through waste. So, according to its 2015 report 'Growth Within', "the transition to a circular economy could add an additional 900 billion euros to European GDP by 2030, in addition to increasing family income by 3,000 euros a year and reducing emissions. of CO2 in half.

A challenge equal to a woman like Ellen MacArthur, who, at just 28 years old, in 2005, received a massive reception in the port of Falmouth and the general applause of her compatriots after breaking the speed record in the established circumnavigation of the planet a year before by the Frenchman François Joyon.

It took MacArthur 71 days, 14 hours and 18 minutes to cover more than 27,000 miles, on a journey that started from the Breton city of Ushant and took her through the Cape of Good Hope, South Australia and New Zealand, Tierra del Fuego and back to Ushant.

Ellen MacArthur, Knight of the Legion of Honor and Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire, had become a popular character by appearing in a transatlantic regatta as the petite young girl with storm-proof tenacity and the ability to compete with the most seasoned sailors in the world.

She was born in the landlocked county of Derbyshire, England, but was fascinated by reading about the seas and sailing as a child. She even kept the money her parents gave her to pay for school meals in order to save for the purchase of her first boat and, at just 18 years old, she had already circled the British Isles as lonely sailor.

The jury's minutes highlight that "Ellen MacArthur works with her foundation to change the current paradigm of production and consumption through the use of resources based on the reduction, reuse and recycling of materials in a sustainable way" and that "her ability to promoting alliances with governments, companies, scientific institutions and civil society has contributed to forging the first major international agreement that will be legally binding against plastic pollution.

The jury also valued "his work to promote a change in the culture of responsible production and consumption in the textile industry, among other major commitments."

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