Crossing oceans for the health of the seas

Rio de Janeiro, 20th of April 2017

How to measure the success of a partnership? What can be the concrete outcome of a connection made?

At swissnex, where we strive to foster new partnerships and make meaningful, relevant connections, we are well aware how difficult it is to quantify the impact of such efforts. All too often, a lucky encounter will only carry fruits much later, when few will remember where it all started. Other times, such encounters can result in something completely unexpected.

Sometimes, it’s exactly these unexpected stories of successful encounters that help us measure the success of what we do. It was hence with a great sense of satisfaction that we recently hosted the Project Route for the screening of the documentary Uma Gota (One Drop) on our roof top terrace in Rio de Janeiro on April 19th.

Route is a NGO from Florianópolis (Santa Catarina State), founded by the two friends Simão Fillippe and Márcio Gerba. Surfers and nature-afficionados, they have dedicated themselves to engaging and mobilizing people for the cause of cleaner seas and beaches. Through Route, Simão, Márcio and their partners have a organized beach-cleaning rallies which drew over 800 volunteers, as well as a host of cultural and educational events to raise awareness about the growing, global problem of marine litter.

Florianópolis is an island in the South of Brazil known for its beautiful beaches, natural lifestyle and water sports such as surfing. Far away, in Switzerland, another organization has also put its lens on the problem of marine litter. Founded by the Swiss entrepreneur Marco Simeoni in 2010, Race for Water is a foundation committed to the health of our oceans. In 2015, Simeoni launched a scientific expedition across the seas for the first comprehensive assessment of the effect of marine litter. The journey, which started in Bordeaux in France, arrived at its last destination in Rio de Janeiro in late 2015, where the project was received with an extensive program of public talks, debates, conferences and an exhibition: the campaign Mar sem Lixo, Mar da Gente (Seas without Trash, Our Seas), a partnership between swissnex Brazil and Race for Water.

It was at the occasion of this event that the director of the documentary Uma Gota, Márcio Gerba, connected with swissnex. Ready to launch his film project, he heard of the Mar sem Lixo, Mar da Gente campaign and didn’t hesitate: he immediately flew to Rio de Janeiro to get a chance to meet with the researchers, experts and activists that the event series drew to Rio. Conducting the first interviews, he was able to kick-start the production of his documentary.

And he didn’t forget where it all started: when the film was finally completed, Márcio and his team got back in touch with swissnex for the launch of the documentary in Rio de Janeiro. The screening on the swissnex roof top drew a large audience and the film’s clear and passionate message captivated the audience.

The documentary Uma Gota will continue its launch tour and will soon be available for streaming online with subtitles in various languages. Quite symbolically, this month, the project Race for Water also launched is second great expedition. This time, the mission is to promote concrete, technology-based solutions to save the oceans. This most recent odyssey will take four years and happens aboard a fully ecological vessel, the Tûranor PlanetSolar, which is run by 500 square meters of solar panels, converts saline water into hydrogen and uses cutting edge boating technology.

So, how to measure the success of a partnership? A Brazilian movie, which will now be featured on screens around the world, telling an impactful story that has a Swiss touch, seems to be a pretty good measure. But, more than anything, the greatest success is to receive a sincere Thank You from those who have become part of the network that we weave as we do our daily job of fostering connections between Switzerland and Brazil.