Legal, Plastic Pollution, Updates, Climate Change, Water Quality
August 27 2019

Ocean Call to the G7 a Success in Biarritz!

by Angela Howe

The Surfrider Foundation U.S. was asked to join our international affiliate, Surfrider Foundation Europe, in Biarritz this past week for the Ocean Pavilion summit in advance of the G7 summit, where the leaders of the free world were gathering to talk about top global issues. Surfrider was there to advance ocean protection as a top global priority.

Surfrider Foundation Europe mobilized over 50 organizations and several top level decision-makers to discuss the importance of ocean conservation over the 4-day Ocean Pavilion event, held at Surfrider Europe’s amazing offices in Biarritz, France.  

The Ocean Call, a collective declaration advocating for commitments to ocean protection, was presented to the G7 at the culmination of the event. Antidia Citores, director of environmental advocacy at Surfrider Europe, presented French President Emmanuel Macron with the Ocean Call on Saturday morning of the G7 Summit. The Surfrider Foundation U.S. was represented by CEO Dr. Chad Nelsen, who also spoke with President Macron.

The Ocean Pavilion took place from August 20-23rd with four distinct topics for discussion amongst NGO leaders and top elected officials:

Day 1 – Ocean, Sports and Sustainable Tourism included discussions by leading surf industry representatives to discuss sustainable sport development and how to address the biggest challenges with sustainable tourism.

Day 2 – Ocean & Biodiversity included a discussion of the Surfrider U.S.’s Ocean Friendly Restaurants program and marine protection in general. The day resolved with a clear call to fully protect at least 30% of marine waters by 2030. This can be done by ending over-fishing and expanding the number and size of marine protected areas.

Day 3 – Ocean & Plastic Pollution involved an in-depth discussion by plastic pollution experts and leaders in the field, including the Surfrider U.S. Legal Director, Angela Howe. French Minister of the Environment, Elisabeth Borne, joined the meeting to discuss ocean conservation in depth with participants. In response to our question about how to mobilize global leadership on plastics, she emphasized the importance of local pressure and on-the-ground change to show leaders what is wanted. Leaders from BreakFreeFromPlastic, including Delphine Levi Alvares, were present to talk about how cross-cutting the plastic pollution issue has become not only an environmental issue, but also a social issue and a women’s equality issue.

Day 4 – Ocean & Climate – This day involved a discussion of ocean shipping and “greening the blue economy,” with a panel including Surfrider's CEO, Dr. Chad Nelsen.

Surfrider EU’s Global Shipping expert, Antidia Citores, who led the efforts to organize the Ocean Pavilion and the Ocean Call, stated “The Ocean Call has been heard! 50 coalition organizations have been involved in the first G7 working on reduction emission from ships and textile impact on the ocean. We will keep watching for the next step, COP25, and consider a blue COP and other UN negotiations.”

"The battle for climate can only be won by building collective intelligence dynamics," said Florent Marcoux, Executive Director of Surfrider Foundation Europe. "We believe the way to drive sustainable change is through collaboration and understanding, instead of contestation. It is the entire civil society that is mobilizing to challenge the international community to go beyond declarations of intent, and to act."

This large Ocean Pavilion event included a great paddleout for ocean awareness that brought together more than 350 people. To see more, check out the social media feeds under #OceanCallForG7.

With the success of the Ocean Pavilion and the new beach cleanup tool collaboration, Surfrider Foundation Europe and the Surfrider Foundation U.S. are now working with more respect and collaboration than ever! We are excited to support ocean conservation on a global scale in the future.

"Thanks to Surfrider Foundation Europe for making the Ocean Pavilion and Ocean Call truly an international event by including Surfrider U.S., Surfrider Japan and other international organizations," said CEO, Dr. Chad Nelsen. "It proved that when Surfrider Foundation international affiliates work together, we can influence ocean and coastal conservation at the global level."