In this new edition of the Ocean Decade Conversations, Diego Sancho Gallegos, Early Career Ocean Professional, takes a deep dive with us into the Save the Waves App Project, showcasing its importance to a range of topics such as supporting coastal communities, promoting ocean accessibility, collecting data and helping beat marine pollution. You can also learn how to apply for the next World Surfing Reserves. Ride this wave with us and learn how to become a coastal steward!
- Could you please tell us what inspired you to get involved with this important movement?
I grew up in Costa Rica, surrounded by the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, so I was fortunate enough to spend a lot of time in or around water. This led me to want to study and protect the ocean for a living, so I moved to California to pursue this passion. I think that while the ocean provides people from all around the world with their livelihoods, it also provides a sense of freedom and wonder that is unparalleled and brings tremendous joy and wellbeing to those who live around it. My goal is to work towards a future where the ocean remains a source of economic activity while still being this awe-inspiring landscape that we can all enjoy.
- How do you think the Decade Project Save the Waves initiatives can contribute to the Ocean Decade?
The Save The Waves App, our UN Ocean Decade Action, empowers everyday surfers and beach-goers to protect their coast and beaches by reporting threats to these zones. I think that this is at the core of the Ocean Decade, as we need to engage as many people as possible to ensure the long-term sustainability of our ocean, and the App aims to do exactly that. We are constantly working to connect our users with organizations that can respond to the issues they report on the App, simultaneously educating and engaging new stakeholders with ocean conservation through very simple actions (taking a photo and posting it on the App), and working to find real-world solutions to these problems. I think that, at scale, this has multiple benefits to support resilient, conservation-focused coastal communities.
- How can we better address surfing biodiversity hotspots conservation issues? Could you explain how Save the Waves is working to protect 1,000 surf ecosystem sites by 2030?
At Save The Waves, our goal is to protect 1000 surf ecosystems by 2030. A surf ecosystem is the land-to-sea interface where amazing waves for surfing occur, plants and animals live, and communities make a living and recreate. These ecosystems contain some of the most unique living beings and provide a sustainable source of income through tourism, if managed in the correct way. To protect these resources, our strategy focuses on 3 key elements: protect, steward, and defend. We believe that legally protected areas (Protect), effective stewardship (Steward), and a mobilized constituency (Defend) result in successful long-term conservation of surf ecosystems. Examples of each include our World Surfing Reserves (WSR) and Surfing Protected Area Network (SPAN) programs to protect these places, the Save The Waves App, our endorsed Decade Action, to successfully steward them, and our Campaigns program to defend surf ecosystems under threat. So, every ocean user can become a part of this strategy by using the Save The Waves App to become an effective steward of their coast.