ROLEX PERPETUAL PLANET INITIATIVE
For nearly a century, Rolex has supported pioneering explorers pushing back the boundaries of human endeavour. The company has moved from championing exploration for the sake of discovery to protecting the planet, committing for the long term to support individuals and organizations using science to understand and devise solutions to today’s environmental challenges.
This engagement was reinforced with the launch of the Perpetual Planet initiative in 2019, which initially focused on individuals who contribute to a better world through the Rolex Awards for Enterprise, on safeguarding the oceans through a partnership with Mission Blue, and on understanding climate change as part of its association with the National Geographic Society.
An expanding portfolio of other partnerships embraced by the Perpetual Planet initiative now include: the Under The Pole expeditions, pushing the boundaries of underwater exploration; the One Ocean Foundation and Menkab, both protecting cetacean biodiversity in the Mediterranean; the Xunaan-Ha Expedition, shedding light on water quality in Yucatán, Mexico; the B.I.G expedition to the North Pole in 2023, gathering data on threats to the Arctic; Hearts In The Ice, also collecting climate change information in the Arctic; the Monaco Blue Initiative that brings together experts on solutions for ocean conservation.
Rolex also supports organizations and initiatives fostering the next generations of explorers, scientists and conservationists through scholarships and grants such as Our World-Underwater Scholarship Society and The Rolex Explorers Club Grants.
SARGASSO SEA HOPE SPOT GAINS NEW CHAMPION THROUGH PERPETUAL PLANET INITIATIVE PARTNER MISSION BLUE
Hope Spot Champion, the Sargasso Sea Commission, plans major high seas ecosystem research.
The many thousands of species that depend on the “golden rainforest” of the Sargasso Sea have brighter prospects for survival with the appointment of the Sargasso Sea Commission as a Champion of the area’s Mission Blue Hope Spot. Mission Blue is a key partner in Rolex’s Perpetual Planet initiative.
Established in 2019, the initiative supports many individuals and organizations in science-led efforts to preserve the natural world and the systems that sustain life.
Founded by renowned ocean explorer Sylvia Earle, Mission Blue creates Hope Spots in ecologically important areas of the oceans, working with communities to create or improve legal protection of these habitats. Every Hope Spot has one or more Champions who drive advocacy campaigns, negotiate with government authorities and conduct scientific research.
However, the Sargasso Sea in the Atlantic Ocean has no resident community to press for its protection and is under siege from human impacts such as extreme levels of microplastic pollution. It is the world’s only sea without a land border. Instead, it is considered part of the high seas that make up more than 60 per cent of the oceans and are some of the least protected places on the planet; this is due to the necessity to push complex international agreements to achieve conservation measures.
Created by a phenomenon of nature, the fabled Sargasso Sea – which covers 5,180,000 km2 (2 million sq miles) – is held in the grip of four boundary currents, creating a particularly tranquil surface. It is well-known for becalming sailing ships and causing their crews to face desperate weeks of thirst.
The sea takes its name from the immense mats of golden, free-floating seaweed, called Sargassum that bob about its surface. The weed is unique among algae because its entire life cycle is conducted without needing to be attached to the ocean floor. The Sargassum is home to species that have adapted to this floating platform such as endangered eels, shrimp and crab. It also hosts white marlin, porbeagle shark and dolphinfish, as well as humpback whales and tuna, and birds looking for food as they migrate.
A Hope Spot was created in the area in 2011 but Mission Blue’s Sylvia Earle acknowledges how the commission’s new role will enhance its work: “Thank you, Sargasso Sea Commission, for stepping up and committing to being a Champion for the Sargasso Sea, the floating golden rainforest that is so important to so many creatures in the Atlantic Ocean, with a significance that really has global impact.”
The commission was established in 2014 after governments from several countries located in the broader area, or with interests in high seas conservation, met in Bermuda and signed the Hamilton Declaration. It now has 10 signatories: the Azores, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, the Bahamas, Canada, the Cayman Islands, the Dominican Republic, Monaco, the United Kingdom and the United States. The commission’s role is to act as the steward of this ecosystem and keep its health, productivity and resilience under review, as well as to develop measures to safeguard its conservation.
Two grants from the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and Fonds français pour l’environnement mondial (FFEM) will allow the commission to conduct major research to find out how the ecosystem functions. “These grants will allow for the first-ever ecosystem diagnostic analysis (EDA) of a high seas system to be completed,” David Freestone, Executive Secretary of the Sargasso Sea Commission and Hope Spot Champion explains.
The analysis will form the technical basis for a Strategic Action Plan over the Sargasso Sea, which stakeholders will endorse and implement, designed to strengthen stewardship of the region.