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Biennial Global Wave Conference & the Australian Bushfire & Wildlife Appeal

14 January 20

A key international ocean conservation event hosted by the Gold Coast World Surfing Reserve on behalf of international partners, Save the Waves Coalition, Surfrider Foundation, Surfers against Sewage, and Wild Coast, concerning growing threats to waves, ocean and coastal conservation, and seeking sustainable solutions for a happy, healthier environment. 

Running from 10-14 February, and making its Australian debut at the GC Southern Cross University.

Sophie Taylor-Price, the granddaughter to Australia’s most popular Prime Minister Bob Hawke, will open the conference as the first key speaker on Tuesday 11.

Ms Taylor Price is a Landcare Ambassador and Senior Manager at E&Y Climate Change & Sustainability Services, will touch on the recent National bushfire tragedy and the effect of climate change. Ms Price will join environmental and social scientists, world surfing greats, conservationists, surfing industry stakeholders, and the sustainability and eco-surfing conscientious at the 2020 conference to investigate ways of making our oceans safer, healthier, and cleaner for future generations.

Representing a new generation of climate leaders, Ms. Taylor-Price made headlines in 2018 when she urged Australians to take a greater stance on climate change during her speech at a memorial for her late grandfather, former Prime Minister Bob Hawke, at the Sydney Opera House.

Ms. Taylor-Price, a sailor with a great love for the ocean, will be  discussing issues and trends around the role of oceans in relation to climate change and how individuals can become involved via projects such as CoastCare – local Landcare organisations that work together to protect and enhance local coastal and marine environments. 

My favourite part of the world is the South Coast of NSW. I grew up having almost all family holidays down there, and while I did my fair share of boogie boarding as a kid, the waves lost out when I convinced my parents to buy me a horse. While it was only holidays, my happy place of my childhood was riding on the beach and in the bush, and even today I am happy in, on, or near water”. 

The conference will also hear from 13-year-old ocean warrior Shalise Leesfield of Port Macquarie, who represented Australia at the Parley Ocean Youth Uprise Summit in Hawaii and joined by Two-time world champion surfer Tom Carroll and his author brother Nick Carroll will discuss issues around crowding, while former World Tour professional surfer turned Olympic surf coach Bede Durbidge will share insights into Australia's preparation for surfing at the 2020 Olympic Games in Japan.

 Multiple World Adaptive Surf Champion Mark 'Mono' Stewart, from Byron Bay will discuss the growth of disabled surfing

Other surfing legends to speak include Peruvian big-wave champion and Surf Till 100 program co-founder Felipe Pomar, master craftsman surfboard shaper and artist Richard Harvey, and fellow local shaper Nev Hyman who is better known these days for his NevHouse Housing Humanity initiative, which turns waste into low-cost housing.

Other well-known surfing identities former World Longboard Champion & Bond Uni student Rachel Tilly, a former World Longboard Champion Beau Young, and Gold Coast Big Wave hero Ryan Hipwood.

World women Professional surfer from the Gold Coast, Ellie J Brooks and Pacha Light both Ambassadors for GWC2020 are listed in the speaker line-up. 

Larissa Rose, director of local environmental consultancy business Glowing Green Australia (GGA), an adjunct lecturer on Climate Change & Environmental Management at Bond University, will discuss renewable energy. Larissa is also part of the team including Nichelle Lyster working to ensure the conference meets its STOKE certification requirements.

STOKE is the Sustainable Tourism and Outdoors Kit for Evaluation. It’s the world’s first sustainability certification body with standards built specifically for surf and ski tourism operators, destinations, and affiliated events.

The program will see a wide range of hot topics up for discussion, including artificial reefs, wave pools, shark management, ecofeminism and the ethics of surfing, sewage and water quality, sustainable surfboards, the fight against plastics, surfing as therapy, bodysurfing, health concerns regarding sunscreen, surf tourism, relationships between surfers and fishermen, measuring human/environmental interactions in surf ecosystems, the importance of 'surfability' and legal protections for surf breaks.

The patron of Gold Coast World Surfing Reserve & 1978 World Champion Wayne “Rabbit” Bartholomew AM will help open and close the Global Wave Conference.

The opening ceremony will have a welcome to Country opening by the Fingal Slabb surfing family on Tuesday 11th February at Gold Coast Campus Auditorium, SCU at Bilinga Southern Gold Coast. 

It will be attended by the Qld State Government Minister of Tourism Kate Jones and Minister of Sport & Housing Mick de Brenni (a keen surfer) with local Councillors all who have supported this inaugural event for Gold Coast, Australia

GCWSR chairman Andrew McKinnon is super excited and impressed with the calibre of speakers exploring future solutions to issues such as surf sustainability, recycling surfing products, the removal of plastics and advances in artificial reef and wave technology.  

"Some of the most qualified minds in surfing from all over the world will be speaking on ocean conservation, climate change impacts, protecting beach and surf amenity, the economic and environmental value of surfing, gender roles, adaptive surfing, artificial reefs, wave pools and what we can do to eradicate the plastic problem from polluting the ocean," he said. “This will be more than a talkfest with sustainable solutions tabled for now and the future.”

Mr. McKinnon said the conference program would highlight the growing threats to waves and surfing habitats worldwide, facilitate global coastal environmental and sustainability initiatives and increase leadership from the surfing community on the protection of waves, oceans, beaches, and marine ecosystems. 

"We are totally pumped to be hosting the 6th biennial Global Wave Conference at the Gold Coast Campus Southern Cross University, which just so happens to be in the World Surfing Reserve destination," he said. 

In another coup for GWC2020, the 12th World Surfing Reserve will be voted on and announced at the Gold Coast Conference by Save the Waves Vision Council who are the governing authority of World Surfing Reserves.

Other activities include a primary school book launch from Australian award author Nicole Godwin’s and her award-winning book, Jelly Boy about a jellyfish. 

Surf Movies from Juul Hesselberth, Save the Waves surf movie festival, ocean surf photo exhibition, early morning fitness sessions, live music fundraiser, a paddle out and a final workshop forum.

The Friday 14th final workshop forum will be a major get together at the Gold Coast Campus Southern Cross University from the like-minded conservation groups to discuss their various strategies and move forward approach to deal with the issues and concerns facing the future of the surfing environment and seeking a more sustainable future.

On that final Friday, City of Gold Coast will host their annual World Surfing Reserve local Stewardship Committee meeting in as an historic workshop with Save the Waves & WSRs outlying Councils Surf Management Plan, Ocean Beaches strategies, Artificial reefs, coastal infrastructure projects, and how Council manages the Gold Coast World Surfing Reserve.

The afternoon session will see the World Governing Body of World Surfing Reserves Save the Waves Coalition and the Vision Council announce the latest World Surfing Reserve number 12 at Southern Cross University.

Surfrider Foundation USA CEO Chad Nelsen and Surfrider Foundation Australia chair Susie Crick will convene a special international AGM Surfrider Foundation meeting while on the same day the International Association for Surfing Researchers (Surfing Academics) will also hold its third annual meeting.

"This will be a major meeting of significant International ocean conservation groups offering sustainable solutions for the issues and concerns facing our surfing future," Mr McKinnon said.

Gold Coast Surfing Legend and skipper Tony "Doris" Eltherington will be a special guest and has donated a 12 nights boat trip to the Mentawai’s worth $4,500.00 for a lucky registered ticket holder to be drawn at a finale party at The Collective Palm Beach on Thursday 13th February with live music from local rock and roll act Mason Rack Band that includes an auction/raffles fundraiser for the Australian bushfire and Wildlife appeal from the recent catastrophic fires.

Global Wave Conference was established in 2011 and has been hosted in France, Mexico, United Kingdom, and most recently in 2018 at Santa Cruz, California.

The 2020 event was secured by GCWSR with the support of Queensland Government Department of Tourism, Sport and Environment, Tourism Events Queensland, Destination Gold Coast, City of Gold Coast Council, Southern Cross University and other sponsors such as Griffith University and Surfboard Warehouse. It is expected to attract up to 400 people, including 200 international delegates.



Professional Conference Organiser: CRAIG HASSELL


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