A conservation initiative to champion sustainable tourism has been created by expeditions cruise company Ponant.

The French firm has founded the Ponant Foundation to support projects focused on research, raising awareness and conservation to help protect the oceans, polar regions and indigenous populations.

The foundation aims to encourage innovative solutions to better understand and protect the oceans and polar regions.

The Ponant Foundation will be allocated an unspecified “substantial” budget.

One of the first projects to receive support is the Aldabra CleanUp, project that aims to fight marine plastic pollution led by the Seychelles Islands Foundation and Oxford University.

It intends to preserve the Aldabra Atoll in the Seychelles.

The foundation is also supporting projects dedicated to the protection of the coral reef in New Caledonia and the conservation of humpback whales in the Antarctic.

Initiatives to recycle plastic waste led by the association Plastic Odyssey, and applied research projects ran by the Pure Ocean fund to protect the oceans are also being supported.

A visit by a young Greenlander to the company head office in Marseille is alos being funded to encourage cultural exchanges and offer her a foothold into the world of work.

The development builds on a preliminary endowment fund set up last year and comes on World Oceans Day.

A board of directors will steer the foundation and select projects to receive financial support. Almost half of these are examined as part of an annual call for proposals, the theme of which will be decided by the board

Ponant CEO Jean Emmanuel Sauvee said: “Well aware of the challenges and the scale of the task, we remain true to our belief as sailors eager to share our passion for the oceans.

“Thirty years after the company was created, that same philosophy still drives each and every one of us today: we protect best what we know best.”