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World Surf League Pledges to Protect 30% of the Oceans By 2030


Surfers experience the perilous condition of the oceans, exacerbated by climate change, virtually every time they head into the water. That is why GreenSportsBlog has been heartened by the World Surf League’s consistent commitment over the years to publicize the need to improve ocean health and take on the climate crisis.

The WSL understands that governments, business and other institutions are still not moving quickly enough to restore ocean health — not by a long shot. So, the league is picking up the pace of its activism.

It launched the “We Are One Ocean” campaign last month that calls for protecting 30 percent of the oceans by 2030. It encourages surfing fans — and anyone who cares about the oceans for that matter — to sign the 30×30 pledge as a way to pressure the U.N. to act. 


What if I told you that the World Surf League is going to encourage one million surfing fans and ocean lovers the world over to sign the ’30×30′ pledge that will influence delegates at the U.N. Biodiversity Conference later this year to vote to protect 30 percent of the world’s oceans by 2030?

While that reads like a promotional tease script for an ESPN 30-for-30 sports documentary, it also happens to be the primary objective of the World Surf League’s We Are One Ocean campaign that kicked off two weeks ago. The challenge — building a grassroots effort through the 30×30 pledge that will successfully influence U.N. conferees to vote to protect a significant swath of the oceans by 2030 — is a big one.

That is a big reason why the WSL and WSL PURE, its nonprofit arm, have built a growing coalition of more than 60 Non Governmental Organizations (NGOs) and corporations in support of We Are One Ocean, including the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), Conservation International, Surfrider Foundation, Sea Legacy, Lonely Whale, the Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI) and World Sailing.

“We are working to inspire a Radical International Collaboration of organizations and individuals — from surfers, sailors, and divers to fans and ocean lovers — [to take advantage of] this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to protect critical ocean habitat and biodiversity for generations to come,” shared Reese Pacheco, the WSL’s senior vice president of Ocean Responsibility. “This isn’t just about the ocean. It’s about people. By protecting the ocean, and hitting 30×30, we guarantee a healthier future for all.”


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Reece Pacheco (Photo credit: WSL)


The WSL is moving quickly to galvanize the surfing community to sign the pledge in the large numbers needed to get the attention of the U.N. policy makers. On Tuesday, it released six short videos from top surfers, ocean scientists and environmentalists, sharing why they’ve signed the pledge. And the league has several engaging virtual events planned over the Valentine’s Day weekend that will encourage fans to show their love for the ocean by signing the pledge.



In the beautifully-shot short videos, world class surfers and ocean scientists share their motivations for signing the pledge.

Dr. Easkey Britton, a surfer and marine social scientist from the beautifully rugged coast of County Donnegal in Ireland, shares her love and gratitude for the ocean and the imperative of conserving it.

“Being immersed in the ocean can improve our mobility, our heart and lung functioning,” Britton rhapsodized in her video. “It regulates our nervous system, lowers our stress hormones; it soothes, calms and heals us…[Thus] to even try to imagine a future without the ocean is to go to the darkest place. Everything collapses.”


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Dr. Easkey Britton (Photo credit: WSL)


To Dr. Cliff Kapono, a professional surfer, chemist and journalist from Hawaii, signing the pledge comes from a place of love: “If you really love something, you’ll do everything you can to protect it.”


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Dr. Cliff Kapono (Photo credit: WSL)


For WSL Champion and Brazilian Olympic qualifier¹ Italo Ferreira, being raised beside the sea has shaped his entire world, giving him the chance to fall in love with the sport that changed his life. Now, he has decided to give back. “As a surfer, the ocean is my home and my place of work. It’s really important to me to do what I can to protect it,” Ferreira said. “I hope that by sharing my story and my love for the ocean it will inspire people to sign the petition.”


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Italo Ferreira (Photo credit: WSL)


Marine biologist Dr. Ayana Johnson shared that 30×30 can be a meaningful solution to the climate crisis, and that if that happens, “we will get to watch the ocean rebound in the most magical way.”




To raise awareness for the petition, the WSL is hosting a series of virtual experiences over the Valentine’s Day weekend to connect people with their love for the ocean and inspire them to take action (i.e. sign the pledge) to protect it. Events include:

  • Thursday February 11 @ 2:00PM EST: “Green Over Your Make-up Bag”: Learn how to keep your makeup routine ocean-friendly by watching pro make-up artist and green beauty expert Katey Denno give WSL pro surfer Caroline Marks learn an ocean-inspired beauty look. Tune in on Instagram live with @kateydenno and @caroline_markss.
  • Friday February 12 @ 2:30PM EST: “Intersectional Environmentalism”: A conversation between writer and film producer Siraad Dirshe and Leah Thomas, founder of Intersectional Environmentalist, explores the dire environmental crisis happening to the ocean and why we should all become environmentalists, in both small and big ways. Tune in on Instagram live with @intersectionalenvironmentalist and @sdirshe.
  • Sunday February 14 @ 6:00PM EST: “Breathwork”: Celebrate Valentine’s Day, not by bingeing on chocolates² but by learning about the power of breath and our connection to the ocean with freediver and PADI ambassador Adam Sellars as he takes pro surfer Brisa Hennessy through his breathwork class. Tune in on Instagram live with @wsl and @paditv


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Leah Thomas, founder of Intersectional Environmentalist (Photo credit: Kayu Design)



GSB’s Take: I am generally no longer a fan of environmental and/or climate-related pledges because they are easy to make. The hard part — fulfilling the pledge is not always easy to document.

The 30×30 pledge, a key part of the WSL’s “We Are One Ocean” campaign, is an exception.

I like it.

That is because the pledge has a specific purpose: To influence the delegates at the U.N.’s 2021 Biodiversity Conference to enact policies that will protect 30 percent of the oceans by 2030.

Will the WSL and its partners be able to generate the number of signatures to the pledge to move the U.N.? It won’t be easy but it is doable.

Watch this space.


Click here to sign the 30×30 pledge.


¹ Surfing will be an Olympic sport for the first time in Tokyo this summer.
² OK, it’s not a bad thing to binge on chocolates on Valentine’s Day.



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Laura Stargel, Sustainability Coordinator, Super Bowl LV

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