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Global Wave Conference

Photo credit: Shayne Nienaber

Global Wave Conference Comes to Gold Coast

Tim Baker | January 2019

The Gold Coast has won the rights to host the sixth Biennial Global Wave Conference in February 2020, to be held at the Gold Coast Campus of Southern Cross University.

The conference is an international gathering of the brightest minds from the surfing, conservation and innovation communities to tackle the world’s most challenging ocean issues and promote the value of waves and their protection.

The conference has previously been held in France, Mexico, the UK (twice) and the US and reinforces the Gold Coast’s status as a global surf city and hub of surf culture.

“We’re really proud and pumped to host such a prestigious international event. There are a lot of impressive people speaking on a number of topics, seeking solutions for a sustainable future,” says conference co-host and chairman of Gold Coast World Surfing Reserves, Andrew McKinnon.

Among the stellar line-up of ocean academics, writers, professional surfers and coaches and environmentalists is 18-year-old Gold Coast local Pacha Light who is passionate about representing the voices of the younger generation.

Pacha is fast making a name for herself as a rising star of the Australian pro junior circuit and World Qualifying Series, as well as a devoted environmentalist who has a long track record of standing up for our oceans. She is also an ambassador for Gold Coast World Surfing Reserves.

Pacha has a large and growing social media platform, blogging and vlogging as she travels the world, with over 100,000 Instagram followers. She highlights environmental issues, introduces the inspiring folks she meets on the road, and hopes to empower more young women to speak out on issues they feel strongly about.

She is planning on using the opportunity to speak about the Women of the Sea, elderly female free divers she met in Japan and Korea who have a long history of providing for their communities while practising sustainable aquaculture.

“I’m going to tell that Women of the Sea story, and the way youth can reclaim our control and our beliefs,” she says.  “I’ve had amazing opportunities and to bring that spark and enthusiasm from all these women from all around the world, it’s been really, really inspiring to tell these stories.”

Pacha’s mother Anja is a long-time environmentalist who has campaigned to protect rainforests in Ecuador and Japan, and Pacha had an unconventional upbringing from day one. “I was born in the offices of this rainforest action centre in Ecuador. There were 100 volunteers from around the world and I grew up in this family of people all caring about the earth,” says Pacha.

When she was 15, Pacha organised a paddle from Snapper Rocks to Currumbin to support the proposed Word Surfing Reserve status for the Gold Coast’s legendary southern pointbreaks.

“It was Pacha’s idea to support the GCWSR with a symbolic paddle and surf waves along the way,” says Andrew McKinnon. “This protest paddle highlighted the youth support for such a designation and helped turn the tide about what WSR was all about.”

Pacha will join a star-studded line-up over four days from February 10 to 14, centred at Southern Cross University’s Gold Coast campus, and with a range of satellite events across the coast.

Speakers include two-time world surfing champion Tom Carroll and his brother, esteemed surfing journalist Nick Carroll; Sophie Taylor-Price, Landcare Ambassador and Senior Manager at EY’s Climate Change & Sustainability Services (and granddaughter of Former PM Bob Hawke); Surfing Australia’s national coach for the 2020 Olympics Bede Durbidge; Mary and Joel Slabb from Indigenous surfing group Juraki Surf and Culture, and 13-year-old marine conservationist Shalise Leesfield, who has been dubbed the “Greta Thunberg” of ocean activism.

With tours of Gold Coast surf breaks and Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary, the Save the Waves film festival, a photographic exhibition, book launch, morning yoga and pilates classes, a finale party on the Thursday with live music from Mason Rack Band at The Collective Palm Beach, and an 8am paddle-out at Greenmount followed by workshop forums at GC Campus SCU for WSRs (World Surfing Reserves), International Association of Surfing Researchers and Surfrider Foundation, the conference offers something for everyone.

The Global Wave Conference is supported by Tourism and Events Queensland, Destination Gold Coast, Southern Cross University, City of Gold Coast and the Queensland government, as well as a wide range of local businesses, conservation groups and media partners.

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