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Ocean Decade Conversations: Lorenzo Bertelli (Prada Group)

Ocean Decade, 23.11.2022

Prada Group Head of Corporate Social Responsibility, Lorenzo Bertelli, gave us an exclusive interview where he shares his passions, the importance of the Prada/IOC-UNESCO SEA BEYOND educational programme, the legacy the Prada Group can leave by the end of the UN Ocean Decade and much more! Dive into this enriching conversation with us!

1. Could you please tell us a little more about yourself, your influences and how your connection to the ocean started?

I joined the Prada Group in 2017 as Head of Digital Communication, before taking the responsibility of the Group Marketing department in 2019 and, in 2020, also the role of Head of Corporate Social Responsibility.

I have always been passionate about nature, in particular I am truly addicted to winter sports and since I was a teenager I started noticing that the snow scarcity was dramatically increasing. This drove my conviction in preserving the environment and commitment to do more.

What shaped me the most is definitely philosophy. Studying this matter represented an incredible mental flexibility exercise as well as a lens through which to read the world from different perspectives.

On the other hand, there was a time in which I was a professional rally driver. I usually say that rally is more than a sport, it is a way of life. When you get in the car and put your helmet on…unimportant things fly out of the window. You must remain totally focused on your objective and on the right direction to follow. This definitely helped me to define my personality and pursue my choices.

The connection with the ocean has always been part of my life and I inherited it from my parents, who have always had a very strong passion for sailing and the sea.

2. Could you please tell us more about the groundbreaking Prada Re-Nylon campaign? How can coastal communities engage with this initiative through the Ocean Decade?

Prada Re-Nylon was the very first challenge I faced when I entered the company. The project is the result of a partnership between Prada and Aquafil, an Italian textile yarn producer with over half a century of expertise in creating synthetic fibres. Aquafil is renowned for its investment in groundbreaking research and development of sustainable materials, producing new from old.

Prada Re-Nylon is a regenerated nylon yarn that can be recycled an indefinite number of times without affecting the quality of the material. It is made by recycling discarded plastic collected from landfills and oceans across the whole planet.

Started as a capsule collection, Prada converted one year ago the entire virgin nylon production into a regenerated one.

3. How is the Prada Sea Beyond/IOC-UNESCO educational programme contributing to spreading the word about ocean literacy worldwide? Who would you love to see become a supporter of this incredible project?

Launched in 2019, rolling from 2020 and now in its second edition, SEA BEYOND is certainly one of the initiatives we are most proud of.

The programme spreads the word about ocean literacy through three main levers:

  • Education for young generations: a lesson programme involving secondary schools all around the world; up to now we have trained more than 600 students on 4 continents. Every year, at the end of the ocean literacy lessons, we propose a global contest to the participating schools in which every class / group of kids has to design an awareness campaign to spread the message of protecting the ocean.
  • The “Kindergarten of the Lagoon” in Venice, a cycle of open-air lessons dedicated to pre-school kids, which is about to start.
  • A training programme for more than 13,000 employees of the Prada Group, run on a global scale.

I don’t think there is a specific outlined profile of ideal candidates who can come on board. My desire for the future of the project is to increasingly become a platform that can welcome new members to further foster its ultimate goal: promote the culture of sustainability and ocean literacy as much as possible.

4. What’s the importance of initiatives such as the Blue Friday event taking place in Venice to engage more companies in producing more sustainably and reducing the impact on the marine environment?

I think initiatives like the Blue Friday are important as they stir the consciences and sensitivities of citizens, institutions and companies to a call to action. We need people to reflect on the impact that every choice we make can have on the environment and in this case in particular, on the ocean.

We as a company, always have to listen to our primary stakeholders, who are our customers. Luckily, consumer attention is also becoming increasingly oriented towards a more responsible attitude. So as businesses, we have to make sustainable decisions not only because of our corporate ethics and vision, but also to meet the expectations of our audiences.

5. What kind of legacy do you think Prada Group can leave by the end of the UN Ocean Decade to the environment and to the youth?

We are very focused on culture and education as these elements are at the core of our Group DNA. Culture is one of the pillars of our ESG strategy. My family, in particular my mother, strongly believes that culture is crucial to understand society and interpret its evolutions. We are convinced that we need to contribute to the social dialogue in every possible field. Then, if we think how our life on this planet is strictly connected to the health of the ocean, it’s easy to understand our choice.

I am optimistic that with our commitment and that of all the partners which I hope will come on board in the future, we will really make a true difference. Especially because we are already seeing that the interest and passion shown mainly from the youths is very high. Moreover, we continue to receive messages from the schools and the teachers, who are extremely grateful for participating in the programme so far and now are asking to join again! This is an honor for us and for UNESCO too!

6. Do you have a favorite ocean artist/ocean photographer to recommend?

During each of the two editions of SEA BEYOND, I had the privilege of connecting with incredible creative minds who have dedicated their art to the planet. I am thinking about Anne de Carbuccia and Enzo Barracco who, in a different way, use photography to remind us of the beauty of the sea and the marine environment.

Their work is full of passion, and this is the reason why we called them, among others, to be part of the SEA BEYONDERS family, to amplify the positive messages connected to the project and help us select every year the students’ works.

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Photo Credit: Courtesy of Prada

Important links:

Prada Group
Blue Friday Event
Ocean Literacy with All (OLWA) Ocean Decade Programme