Teen climate activists' 'Sail to the COP' boat forced to dock in France

Teen climate activists' 'Sail to the COP' boat forced to dock in France
Belgian teen climate activists Anuna De Wever and Adelaïde Charlier are part of a group of 36 European youth sailing across the Atlantic to attend the COP25. Credit: Youth For Climate/Facebook

The transatlantic sailing trip of Belgian teen climate activists Anuna de Wever and Adelaïde Charlier got off to a rocky start, with their sailboat forced to dock unforeseen due to technical issues.

Less than a week after setting sail on 2 October, the Regina Maris sailboat was forced to moor in the French port of Brest due to a problem with the water purification system, according to HLN.

"The ship was briefly moored (unforeseen) in Brest, they have to pick up a new part,"  Katrien Van der Heyden, De Wever's mother, told the outlet.

She also said that it was not clear how long the technical pit stop would last and whether the 36 teen climate activists on board were allowed to disembark.

Van der Heyden, whose daughter Anuna is a central figure of Belgium's Youth for Climate movement, said rough weather conditions had already started to try the resilience of those on board.

"Adélaïde is seasick all the time, and so far the sea has been enormously stormy," she said, referring to De Wever's French-speaking counterpart.

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"They all have muscle aches because they have to brace themselves with every step," she continued, adding that the group expected to encounter calmer waters once they made it out of the Bay of Biscay.

The activists' trip to attend the U.N.'s COP25 climate summit in Chile is expected to last several weeks more, with planned stops on the way including Casablanca, Tenerife and Cape Verde, before docking at their final destination in Recife, Brazil.

The initiative, dubbed Sail to the Cop, was undertaken as a way to raise awareness about the environmental crises at the heart of the mass protests that have swept through Belgium and across the world.

Additionally, they also aim to ignite work on a "vision and roadmap to a sustainable future" for the travel industry, and call on world leaders and decision-makers to embrace a "fast shift to a just and sustainable transport system."

Ahead of the departure last week, De Wever took to Twitter to address a message to Belgian leaders, telling them the teenage leaders would be "waiting for [them] and [their] ambition at the COP."

According to the Sail to the COP website, the sailboat is expected to dock in Recife around 20 November.

Gabriela Galindo

The Brussels Times

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