The World Surf League has announced the creation of WSL PURE (Progressive Understanding and Respect for the Environment), its philanthropic initiative dedicated to supporting ocean health through the key areas of research, education and advocacy.
In its first initiative, WSL PURE is launching a unique partnership with Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, one of the leading Earth science centers, to fund critical research into ocean health. In addition, WSL PURE is helping to create the curriculum for programs in ocean studies to be offered for students at Columbia University’s School of Professional Studies.
This partnership illustrates the World Surf League’s commitment to join forces with world leaders in ocean research and create funding mechanisms for ocean health at a time when the marine environment is at a critical juncture, with rapidly growing issues of pollution, climate change, and overfishing, but diminished government funding for ocean research and little global representation for the oceans themselves.
“All of us at the World Surf League want to give back to the oceans, and it’s time to get serious,” said Paul Speaker, CEO of the World Surf League. “Today’s launch of WSL PURE and our very special partnership with Columbia University are the first steps in what we hope will become a global movement among our community and beyond, to protect the waters that are both our home and our playing field. By creating a generation of ‘surfer scientists,’ we aspire to create a voice for the oceans and to inspire and empower our global fan base and partners to become better informed about the issues plaguing the oceans, while providing educational opportunities so that we can become an important part of real-world solutions.”
WSL PURE has contributed an initial $1.5 million in funding that will support Lamont-Doherty scientists as they lead pioneering research in ocean health & ecosystems, ocean acidification, sea-level rise, and the role the oceans play in climate change. All of the scientific findings will be shared publicly and transparently, as is standard practice.
One of the scientists who will benefit from this funding is marine biologist Sonya Dyhrman. “The funding provided by WSL PURE provides unique flexibility and freedom,” said Dyhrman. “This will allow me to push my work into new directions and pursue the most pressing research in a bold and innovative way.”
“We are proud to be the launch partner of WSL PURE,” said Jason Wingard, dean of the School of Professional Studies. “Investing in programming in the field of ocean science will prepare future generations of scientists, citizens and expert practitioners who will have a broad and positive impact on our environment’s future.”
“Our oceans and climate are changing faster than our ability to keep pace,” said Peter de Menocal, oceanographer, professor and director of the Columbia Center for Climate and Life at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. “WSL PURE allows us to accelerate the urgent science we need to understand how these changes will impact things people care about most – our access to food, water, shelter and energy. Just last week, Australian scientists reported that 95% of the northern half of the Great Barrier Reef was bleached by warming waters. We’re basically playing catch-up to understand what these changes mean for us and the planet.”
WSL PURE will be making announcements in the coming months regarding the next phases of the program, including opportunities for individuals around the world to become a part of a global movement designed to empower people locally, regionally and internationally.
“The WSL PURE and Columbia partnership is a unique way to marry research, education, and advocacy in a way that can bring powerful studies to the global community,” said Greg Muth, director of WSL PURE and a member of the graduate school faculty at Columbia University’s School of Professional Studies. “This collaboration incorporates traditional philanthropy as well as a hybrid reinvestment model into research and education. Over time, we expect this will create self-sustaining funding for research.”
“Surfing is unique in that its playing field is a living ecosystem,” said Jessi Miley-Dyer, former pro surfer and women’s commissioner of the World Surf League. “As surfers, it is incumbent upon us to do what we can to protect the oceans. Partnering with Lamont-Doherty and Columbia University is a great way to support thorough research into ocean health and I’m excited to see where it leads.”
“Surfing has become a truly global sport with fans and athletes in every corner of the world,” concluded Speaker. “With WSL PURE, we hope to inspire everyone connected with the sport to become engaged in making the oceans healthier for generations to come.”