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Burleigh! Pic: Tony Harrington

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Sophie Taylor-Price. Pic supplied

Gold Coast to host Global Wave Conference 2020

14 November 19

Bob Hawke's granddaughter and climate change champion Sophie Taylor-Price will discuss growing threats to waves and ocean conservation when she addresses the 2020 6th Biennial Global Wave Conference to be held 10th - 14th February 2020 on the Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia.

A key international ocean conservation event hosted by local organisation Gold Coast World Surfing Reserve Inc on behalf of International partners, Save the Waves Coalition, Surfrider Foundation, Surfers against Sewage, and Wild Coast.

The Conference will make its Australian debut at the Gold Coast Campus of Southern Cross University during a landmark year which coincides with surfing's inclusion into the Olympic Games in Japan.

A Landcare Ambassador and Senior Manager at  Ernst & Young’s Climate Change & Sustainability Services, Ms Taylor-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.

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 which was secured by Gold Coast World Surfing Reserve Inc. (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 Griffith University, is expected to attract up to 400 people, including 200 international delegates.

Part of a new generation of climate leaders, Ms Taylor-Price made headlines last year 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 competitive sailor with a great love for the ocean, will be the opening key speaker at the Global Wave Conference hosted in Australia for the first time.

She 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 – Landcare’s coastal dune replanting/restoration initiative at Curl Curl, on the northern beaches of Sydney, when the conference opens on Tuesday, 11th February 2020.

"I grew up having almost all family holidays down the NSW south coast, and while I did my fair share of boogie boarding, 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, who represented Australia at the recent Parley Ocean Youth Uprise Summit in Hawaii, and joined by multiple World Adaptive Surf Champion Mark 'Mono' Stewart, from Byron Bay.

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 to surfing at the 2020 Olympic Games in Japan. 

Peruvian big-wave champion and Surf Till 100 program co-founder Felipe Pomar, wooden 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, also feature among the conference's diverse range of speakers.  

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

( *STOKE is 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 GWC 2020 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, 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. 

GCWSR chairman Andrew McKinnon said he was stoked with the calibre of speakers locked in to explore 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.

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.

The southern Gold Coast will also host World  Surfing Reserve workshops, surf tours and wildlife tours,a Save the Waves surf movie festival, surf conservation photo exhibition, fitness sessions, live music and a paddle out as part of the conference program.

Surfrider Foundation USA CEO Chad Nelsen and Surfrider Foundation Australia chair Susie Crick will also address the conference and attend an international foundation meeting on the Coast.

The International Association For Surfing Researchers will also hold its third annual meeting on the Gold Coast to coincide with the conference.

"This conference will be a significant International ocean conservation event offering sustainable solutions for the issues and concerns facing our future," Mr McKinnon said.

The Global Wave Conference 2020 runs from February 10th -14th, 2020 at the Southern Cross University Gold Coast Campus. 
Visit to register.

Gold Coast Surfing Legend and skipper Tony "Doris" Eltherington has donated a 12 nights boat trip to the Mentawais worth $4,500.00 for a lucky registered ticket holder to be drawn at a finale party at The Collective Palm Beach with live music from local rock and roll act Mason Rack Band that includes a fundraiser for like minded ocean conservation groups.

 - REPORT:  GWC - more info contact

Professional Conference Organiser: Craig Hassell


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