Global Wave Conference 2020Gold Coast, Australia
UNITING & PROGRESSING THE INTERNATIONAL SURF & MARINE CONSERVATION COMMUNITY
The 6th Biennial Global Wave Conference (GWC) from February 10 – 14, 2020 was hosted by the Gold Coast World Surfing Reserve on behalf of the International Partners: Save the Waves Coalition, Surfrider Foundation International, Wild Coast, and Surfers Against Sewage.
With over 400 delegates from 19 countries, this international gathering aims to advance the recognition of the value of waves and their protection around the world. It brings together the best international minds from the surfing, conservation, and innovation communities to tackle the world’s most challenging ocean issues.
Hosted in one of surfing’s most iconic destinations in front of the Gold Coast World Surfing Reserve, attendees engaged in forward-thinking presentations, workshops, and the Save The Waves Film Festival while surfing gems all over the Gold Coast before each day’s events.
For access to the archived speaker presentations and more details on GWC 2020, visit http://www.globalwaveconference2020.com.au/. To see the GWC 2018’s STOKE Certified profile, click here: https://www.stokecertified.com/members/global-wave-conference/.
Sustainability ManagementSection Performance - 75%
The Gold Coast World Surfing Reserve (GCWSR) team utilized the STOKE Communications Strategy toolkit to craft their impact story in an authentic and transparent manner across all of their platforms. Whether on social media, emails to vendors, volunteer briefings, or keynote presentations, the GWC team kept attendees and suppliers stoked on sustainability without greenwashing. This is their go-to document for each Global Wave Conference and your guarantee for an epic event that enables you to #STOKEresponsibly.View Criteria
Reducing the marine plastic problem was a prevalent theme in both the presentations and the design of the event. Renewable, recycled, reclaimed, and/or upcycled materials were utilized within the decor and gift bags including the legendary surfer, Nev Hyman, and his company, NevHouse, who demoed flat-packed shelters constructed out of recycled plastic. The swallow-tail-shaped name tags made out of bamboo were a nice touch as well!View Criteria
- 1.7 Communications Strategy
- 1.6.2 Sustainable Design & Construction - Reclaimed Materials
Social and Economic Impacts ManagementSection Performance - 81%
With the event being hosted at the Southern Cross University Gold Coast Campus across from Kirra Beach, it was a natural fit for the GWC to incorporate local education and recreation initiatives with the community. Australian author, Nicole Godwin, launched her award-winning conservation-themed children’s book about a jellyfish who falls in love with a plastic bag, Jelly Boy, at the nearby Currumbin State School on the first day of the conference. Larissa Rose from Glowing Green Australia, who was on the GWC’s sustainability team, organized a 'High School Youth Leadership Program' that saw 120 university, primary, and high school students attend the free sustainability mentorship event. The City of Gold Coast hosted yoga and pilates sessions every morning which were supported by the Queensland State Government Department of Sport.View Criteria
In addition to sourcing local ingredients from the local catering company, The Green Room, as well as BASSK and the Palm Beach Surf Club, the GWC featured local entrepreneurs in the stallholder area (free of charge) including Surf Mud sunscreen and Indijnarts local handicrafts and artwork. The Ocean Conservation Photographic Exhibition showcased beautiful work from local photographers daily and was sponsored by Queensland State Government Department of Environment. Local indigenous musician, Budjerah, and a local artist, Kai Mana, were invited to perform throughout the duration of the conference. Budjerah played during lunch breaks and Kai Mana was set up next to the main stage painting an ocean-conservation themed piece. To top it off, Thursday night’s finale for the event at The Collective featured live music from a local musician, Mason Rack.View Criteria
Inclusive by nature, the GWC sought to make the event as accessible as possible. With ADA venue access, discounted student rates, free mentorship programs for local students, and complimentary registration for international nonprofit organizations, the GWC is clearly focused on uniting the global marine conservation community as much as possible. The ethos of the event also promoted equal access to the surf assets that inspire this community to protect it. The Save The Waves Film Festival included a screening of Juul Hesselberth’s film about female surfers, sponsorship issues, and objectification called, “Just Go F****** Surfing”.View Criteria
- 2.1.1 Community Development: Education & Recreation
- 2.2 Support Local Entrepreneurs & Artists
- 2.7 Equal Access
Cultural Heritage Impacts ManagementSection Performance - 92%
Not only do the organizers of the conference fight to protect sacred coastlines and surf breaks around the world on a daily basis, but the entire ethos of the Global Wave Conference was based on empowering activists, brands, governments, and others to do the same. With the Gold Coast World Surfing Reserve (GCWSR) serving as the conference backdrop, panelists and keynote speakers from different backgrounds in science, surfing, technology, conservation, and governance from around the world shared inspiring and educational solutions and challenges to ocean conservation and climate change. To celebrate the end of the conference, Noosa became the next World Surfing Reserve and the GCWSR earned legal protection from the Premier of Queensland for the 16-kilometer stretch of coast from Burleigh Beach to Snapper Rocks.View Criteria
A key part of the conference experience was being immersed in surfing and ocean conservation culture in an authentic and respectful way. First and foremost, the GWC honored the original inhabitants of the land during the “Welcome to Country” opening ceremony which was led by Jon Fomosa from Fingal acknowledging the Juraki People and Joal of the Slaab Family of the Bundjalung people. Event organizer, Andrew McKinnon, gave a presentation on the rich history of surfing on the Gold Coast and its impact on the local geography, environment, and community. The GWC held a paddle out to close out the event with a ceremony that is deeply entrenched in surfing's heritage.View Criteria
- 3.3. Protection of Sacred and Significant Sites
- 3.4 Interpretation | 3.5 Incorporation of Culture
Environmental Impacts ManagementSection Performance - 79%
With the Gold Coast World Surfing Reserve, Save The Waves, Surfrider Foundation, and Surfers Against Sewage leading GWC, biodiversity conservation is a core ethos of the event. Conference participants were exposed to multiple sessions related to local and non-local protected areas and the flora and fauna found within them. A cocktail event at the first single use plastic free Surf Club in Australia had proceeds going to the ROLE Foundation which runs zero waste and ocean conservation education programs in Bali. On Thursday night’s finale, the auction fundraiser benefiting the Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary featured raffle prizes from the STOKE Certified Matanivusi Surf Resort, Mediterranean Motel Crescent Heads, and 20 framed photos from iconic surfing photographers. The Gold Coast World Surfing Reserve earning legal protections and Noosa’s new designation as a World Surfing Reserve on the final day of the conference were monumental conservation achievements to celebrate the closing of the event.View Criteria
Thanks to Nichelle Lyster, Larissa Rose, and Greg Howell on the waste management team, the GWC’s zero waste efforts led to a 98% diversion ratio thus avoiding 207 kg of trash to the landfill. This was a 10% improvement in diversion over the 2018 GWC! The event had six separate waste streams/bins with each one having a unique co-benefit. Nearly 93 kg of organic compost went to Southern Cross University’s 'Fly to Feed' program whereby Black Soldier Flies breakdown the organic matter. The NevHouse bin had 365 pieces of plastic at 7 kg that will be used to make new recycled plastic housing materials. Tomra/Envirobank collection weighed in at 28 kg and the money gleaned from 183 bottles and cans were donated to the Landcare Australia bushfire relief campaign. In addition to Greg Howell and his team’s waste sorting and recording efforts, Nichelle Lyster prepared a zero-waste presentation that was shared with vendors and volunteers to strengthen collaborative diversion efforts.View Criteria
SeaTrees partnered with the GWC and presented at the event to educate attendees about their blue carbon mangrove reforestation projects. After calculating the event’s carbon footprint, the GWC elected to offset all speaker and attendee travel in addition to the event’s energy and waste emissions which came out to 53 SeaTrees Tokens. In addition to becoming a carbon-neutral event, proceeds from Envirobank recycling collection went to Landcare Australia to help with the bushfire relief and revegetation projects!View Criteria
Nichelle Lyster and Larissa Rose ran point on all of the GWC’s sustainability initiatives and did an amazing job—especially with vendors in their supply chain. The gift bags were sourced locally in Coffs Harbour and with the Ethical Trading Initiative stamp. Attendees were given a reusable take-out coffee cup inside the gift bags and the Australian Spring Waterman provided bulk refillable water. Meals were served with metal cutlery and plates while biodegradable take-out options (no straws) were available through the local catering partner, The Green Room. Interview with vendors confirmed that they were all impressed by how thorough the event was in considering the life cycle of all products and aligning with environmentally and socially responsible suppliers.View Criteria
- 4.4.7 Biodiversity Conservation
- 4.4.4 Waste Diversion
- 4.4.1 GHG Emissions Management
- 4.1.1-.7 Sustainable Supply Chain Management
Commitment to a Sustainable Future
On behalf of everyone involved in GWC2020 held on the Gold Coast, please all take a collective bow, virtual hugs and thank you to the kindred spirits and acknowledge the traditional owners of the land that we met on! Thanks so much for all your support, we have made an incredible connection between our various groups to continue the work on ocean conservation on a global scale!
Building upon the sustainable event initiatives from the 5th GWC at Santa Cruz, we set out to use the STOKE toolkit and equip our amazing sustainability team with the resources they needed to make the 6th biennial GWC an event that walks the talk and more. We couldn’t be more pleased with the results!
Our goals for the next GWC include:
- Reduce our attendee and speaker travel emissions through teleconferencing capabilities where needed.
- Incorporate an adaptive surf therapy organization for a volunteer day at a local beach.
- Reduce the amount of outside waste brought in by attendees to the event and increase signage and volunteer engagement to ensure attendees properly sort their compostables and recyclables at all times. Strive for 99% or more waste diversion.
- Book a venue with on-site renewable energy.
We appreciate you wanting to learn more about our sustainable event practices and our community’s efforts to protect coastlines and oceans. We hope to see you in 2022!
Andrew McKinnon, event organizer of GWC2020, Chair of the Gold Coast World Surfing Reserve and member of Vision Council for Save the Waves