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Making and breaking waves for a good cause - Part 1

Boat and rowers

I’d like to tell you about three female Vodafone employees who are about to attempt something out of the ordinary. They’re going to row across the Atlantic Ocean. Unassisted. Yes, without a motor or sails to help them along. It’s known as the World’s Toughest Row, and only 36 all-female crews have ever finished it.

Quite a feat, I’m sure you’ll agree, and begs the question, “Why?”.

Doing the right thing for the greater good

I’m sure you’ve heard of environmental, social and governance (ESG) principles. Across industries, companies are incorporating ESG principles into their strategy and operating models. It’s more than just a tick in the box to comply with the latest governmental regulations. It’s a realization that businesses have a responsibility to the societies they work in that goes beyond simply delivering a product or service to the market.

Analysts and consultants tend to agree that companies that embrace ESG into their policies and programs are well positioned among their competition. Let’s also not forget their customers. When clients see that they are working with a good, fair, and just provider, they can be happier to buy future products or services and be part of the responsibility value chain. ESG is about the greater good.

At Nokia, we believe ESG can be an enabler for companies. In fact, ESG is a key pillar of our own corporate strategy.  We see the potential of digital to create a more sustainable, productive and accessible world. By helping the world act together, we can solve the world’s toughest challenges with our customers and partners. As a key enabler of the digital world, we strive to maximize our positive impact and reduce our footprint. Our objective is to leverage our technology and portfolio strengths to maximize our positive impact on other industries, society and the world around us.

Likewise, Vodafone has integrated ESG into its core business through its Purpose strategy.

Vodafone’s Purpose aligns business activities to three pillars: Planet, Inclusion and Digital Society. In doing so, Vodafone supports its customers and governments to use digital connectivity to address the Climate Crisis, and to create more prosperous and inclusive societies. This strategy is translated into concrete outcomes through targets, including achieving Net Zero carbon emissions by 2040 globally; connecting 75 million people and their families to mobile money services by 2026; and supporting 7 million SMEs to digitise by 2025.

The battle is on against the Climate Crisis

The Climate Crisis is already upon us, and as our planet heats up, we’re living through more extreme weather, floods, fires and droughts. Since 1970, we have lost 69% of our world’s wildlife, and every year, 20 million people are forced to leave their homes due to climate change. The World Economic Forum predicts that 216 million people could be forced to migrate within their own countries by 2050 due to climate change.

At Nokia, we are always looking for new ways to play our part, and this year, we are proud to be sponsoring a team of three women from Vodafone, known as the WaveBreakers, to row across the Atlantic Ocean – an enormous challenge to raise funds and awareness around the Climate Crisis. Beginning on 12 December 2023, they will row for around 60 days from San Sebastián de la Gomera in the Canary Islands to Nelson’s Dockyard in Antigua.

A climate-conscious row

Bobbie Mellor is one of the three women who will undertake the challenge and is Vodafone’s Global Head of Sustainability.

“We are rowing across the Atlantic in aid of two charities tackling the terrible impacts of the Climate Crisis. These are WWF, who work tirelessly to protect our natural environment, and UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, who support those displaced due to the Climate Crisis. We’re thrilled to have Nokia joining us on this journey as a principal sponsor, alongside the Vodafone Foundation.”

Not only will the WaveBreakers fundraise for charity, but they’ll embody their mission in their crossing by aiming to have a carbon net zero impact. They have reduced their resource consumption, for example, by refurbishing a second-hand boat rather than buying a new one and are taking action to reduce their carbon footprint.

Preparing to cross an ocean

Significant technical, mental and physical preparation is required for the row. Each team member will be rowing three hours on, three hours off continuously for up to 60 days, tackling waves of up to 30 feet, and losing an average of 8kg of weight on the journey. They will have to be prepared for sleep deprivation, salt sores, and physical extremes.

During our series of blogs about the WaveBreakers, we will explore what it takes to row across an ocean and learn more about what it means to lead a purpose-driven adventure.

The WaveBreakers are aiming to fundraise £280,000 for WWF and UNHCR. You can support this via their JustGiving link and also follow their journey via Instagram.

Take a look at how Nokia sees the potential of digital to create a more sustainable, productive and accessible world.

Steve Davidson

About Steve Davidson

Steve is part of Nokia's European field marketing team currently supporting major accounts and has 35+ years' experience in the general telecoms industry.  When he's not focused on bringing innovation to how operators architect their evolving business, he may be found trying to innovate in the kitchen, or even dusting off his acoustic guitars to architect a tune or two.

Tweet me at @stevedavidson15

Bobbie Mellor

About Bobbie Mellor

Bobbie Mellor is the Global Head of Sustainability and Transparency at Vodafone Group. She leads Vodafone's ESG strategy globally, with responsibility for carbon reduction, circularity, human rights, and digital inclusion. Bobbie is passionate about aligning business success with positive societal and economic outcomes and has a track record in leading businesses along the- often challenging- transition to a low-carbon economy. Bobbie's passion for climate action extends outside the office, and in December 2023 she will lead a team of three women to row across the Atlantic Ocean, with a goal of raising £280,000 for charities tackling the climate crisis. 

Connect with Bobbie on Linkedin

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