Representing Surf Breaks at the UN Ocean Conference in Lisbon, Portugal

Last month, Save The Waves Coalition attended the United Nations Ocean Conference in Lisbon, Portugal which brought together governments, NGO’s, and political leaders to discuss the current state of the oceans and work on solutions to the multiple crises we face.

Save The Waves participated in high level discussions surrounding coastal protected areas, the importance of surfing in the blue economy, plastic pollution, and other topics critical to the success of our mission: protecting surf ecosystems across the globe.

Our team was selected to give an intervention during the plenary dialogue where we highlighted the importance of protecting surf spots around the world and how the work of our Coalition will contribute significantly to the global goals of protecting 30% of the ocean by 2030. Surf Protected Areas Network Manager Mara Arroyo officially addressed the United Nations where our call for protecting surf breaks was heard by the international community and heads of ocean conservation for various governments around the world.

Conservation Programs Manager Trent Hodges was also invited to present and serve as a panelist for an official side event organized by Surfers Against Sewage “Accessible Ocean Action: Ocean Communities Driving Citizen Science & Conservation in the Ocean Decade”  During this event, we spoke to the importance of building strong coalitions to protect the coast and how the World Surfing Reserves model has led to significant grassroots success.

Finally, Save The Waves organized and led an official UN Side Event entitled “Surf Protected Area Networks: An Innovative Approach to Harnessing the Power of Surfing in the Blue Economy.”  

The event was well attended and received with over 50 people representing various conservation organizations and institutions. Presentations included Dr. Jess Ponting from the Center for Surf Research, Mara Arroyo from Save The Waves, Ana Gloria Guzman from Conservation International Costa Rica, big wave surfer Joao de Macedo, and Andreia Nobre representing Blue Azores and the Oceano Azul Foundation. After the presentations, an engaging panel discussion was held with experts on ocean conservation and the blue economy including Dr. Chad Nelsen CEO of the Surfrider Foundation and Angus Friday Director of the Blue Economy for the Waitt Institute.

Through our participation in this conference, the topic of surf conservation and the importance of protecting surf breaks was significantly elevated and this will have the effect of ensuring that high level processes that aim to protect coastal areas will consider surfing resources as a critical factor and benefit for conservation.

Save The Waves will continue our engagement at the international level with our participation at the International Marine Debris Conference in South Korea in September where we will present on how the Save The Waves App and associated stewardship projects are tackling the global plastic pollution crisis.

Surf Protected Area Networks

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