Volcom Fiji Pro 2013 – Report
A Deep Blue Surfing Event™ is a more “Ocean Friendly” event, that sets a clear path for reducing environmental impacts of a professional surfing contest, while also providing social benefits for the local community. The program was developed through a partnership with the Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) – North America that produced the first ever set of “Green Guidelines” for surfing contests in 2012.
Deep Blue Surfing Events address impacts directly related to the local contest area, including waste reduction, protection of natural resources, and the building of stronger communities. Deep Blue Surfing Events also reduce global threats to the sport of surfing itself from the effects of climate change, such as reductions in global wave heights, sea level rise, ocean acidification and the loss of the world’s living coral reefs, by reducing and offsetting carbon emissions from the event.
Summary of Impact Reductions:
* The 2013 Volcom Fiji Pro (VFP) has been evaluated to have met or exceeded the minimum requirements, and has been designated as a Deep Blue Surfing Event™ by Sustainable Surf.
1. Waste Diversion: At least 40% of waste diverted from landfill
2. Climate Change: 100% of CO2 footprint mitigated (a “carbon neutral” event)
3. Community Support: Three community-focused non-profit organization partners
Sustainable Surf’s post-event evaluation of Volcom’s efforts indicates that the Volcom Fiji Pro has exceeded the minimum requirements of three categories: Waste, Climate Change and Community Outreach. To receive a Deep Blue Surfing Event designation, an event is required to develop a data collection plan for measuring performance regarding the reduction of environmental impacts, and it must meet the minimum goals for at least two of the five major categories of environmental impacts. As with Volcom’s efforts last year, the remaining two categories (Energy and Transportation) remain a significant challenge (or are not as applicable) for this particular event, given the constraints of the remote contest site in Fiji. On the plus side, Tavarua’s remoteness does not allow for a large group of on-site spectators, which has an overall effect of helping to further reduce environmental impacts related to the majority of the categories measured.
The sustainability efforts of the 2013 Volcom Fiji Pro contest were aided in large part again, by the choice to site the majority of the event’s operational footprint at the world famous Tavarua Island Resort (TIR), which is instituting a robust sustainability strategy aimed at obtaining the first Sustainable Surf Tourism Certification – a program of the Center For Surf Research at San Diego State University.
See the detailed summery below of the data, results and suggested improvements per category
ASP Green Guidelines Recommendation: Implement a comprehensive management and diversion strategy to limit waste produced from the production of the event.
Minimum Goal: 25% of total event waste diverted from landfill.
Result: The 2013 VFP has exceeded the minimum goal for Waste Diversion – 40% or more by weight*
- All drinking water on island (~2 million liters) comes from rain water, which is double filtered and UV sterilized for use in the resort restaurant, and TIR encourages guests to refill their water bottles with this water free of charge. Tavarua branded ‘Kleen Kanteen’ water bottles are featured prominently in the gift shop, and guests are actively encouraged to consider this option in the interest of eliminating the use of plastic all together.
- Contest banners are saved and re-purposed into new bags, and the judging tower infrastructure is taken down and reused again the following year.
- Beer bottles from the resort are collected and delivered back to the Carlton brewery for reuse and recycling.
- TIR restaurant buys as much locally grown produce as possible and buys as much fish from the local community as they can, in addition to catching their own supply.
- 95% of all food waste is taken every other day to the main island of Fiji and used by local Fijians to feed livestock (pigs, chickens, etc.). This helps to create local jobs and supports the local pig farms at the same time.
- All other waste is shipped off of Tavarua Island every 2 months and is taken to the Lautoka landfill on Fiji. The Lautoka landfill is seen as one of the best operating landfills in the Pacific Islands for its innovative waste diversion programs, which includes permitted “resource pickers” who remove any remaining recyclables by hand.
- An Aerobic Sand Filter (ASF) wastewater treatment system filters all water from individual accommodations, and recycles that water on the resort grounds and gardens.
- Cleaning products at resort are biodegradable and gray-water safe, and all toilets use brackish water from the island, which fed into the ASF wastewater treatment system.
- All solid waste is pumped off the island to a barge and disposed of properly, by a Fijian Department of Environment permitted waste removal company.
Suggested improvements: Tavarua Island Resort has a comprehensive waste diversion strategy, but the Volcom Fiji Pro event could not completely measure waste diversion ratios because some diversion happens off-site at the Lautoka landfill. *Based on our past experience measuring waste diversion at similar events, we have very high confidence that the overall waste diversion ratio exceeds 40% by weight. However, a more comprehensive on-island waste diversion measurement strategy would allow for more precise accounting, and most likely a higher diversion number.
Broken surfboards are also a fact of life at this premier surf destination, even without the world’s best surfers pushing the limits of what’s possible during the contest, so damaged surfboards left from the event can ultimately end up in the landfill on the main island of Fiji. We suggest better accounting of the number of surfboards damaged at the event. We also suggest a policy of taking all broken boards off the island after the event, or otherwise diverting them through repair or reuse. To borrow a bit from the classic outdoor adventure ethic: rip only waves – leave only wakes…
ASP Green Guidelines Recommendation: Support and showcase the efforts of local environmental and social organizations, and include them as stakeholders for possible event legacy efforts.
Minimum Goal: Support at least one NGO working on a local issue relevant to the event.
Result: The 2013 VFP has exceeded the minimum goal for Community Support by supporting three community-focused nonprofit organizations.
- Give Clean Water: Volcom partnered with Give Clean Water.Org, Tavarua Island Resort, and Island Restaurants to deliver and install clean drinking water filters for each of the residences in the local villages of Cuvu (Chief Druku’s home village) and Yako. Filters were also provided to the local schools there.
- Surf Credits: Buying a Surf Credit allows traveling surfers to support environmental and social projects operated by accredited local NGOs, in the local communities they visit while traveling. Volcom encouraged surfers to buy surf credits during the contest by giving away free t-shirts to buyers and through repeated announcements during the live web broadcast.
- Loloma Foundation: The Lolomoa Foundation distributes medicine, clothing, school supplies and other necessities to many agencies throughout the South Pacific, including Fiji, and the Solomon Islands. Each year, Loloma Foundation treats thousands of patients in remote areas of these countries. Volcom supported this organization by donating a portion of the sales of Fiji Pro merchandise, and by raising funds through surf credits.
Suggested improvements: The VFP event did an excellent job supporting the local communities around the event site, but since you can always strive to do better, options for consideration next year might include ways to have more two-way interaction opportunities. Experiential opportunities could involve event day visits for local village youths based on academic achievement, which would stoke kids on surfing and school!
ASP Green Guidelines Recommendation: Calculate and mitigate the total CO2 footprint of event by purchasing 3rd party certified carbon offset credits (or through direct actions taken at event).
Minimum Goal: 50% of CO2 footprint of event offset or mitigated.
Result: The 2013 VFP has exceeded the minimum goal for Climate Change – 100% of CO2 emissions resulting from producing the contest were offset by the use of 3rd party certified carbon offsets. This is considered to be a “carbon neutral” event. Estimated footprint is 353 metric tons CO2e
Carbon emission data includes:
- Air travel and airport transit for all invited WCT surfers and personal entourage, Media, ASP and Volcom staff.
- Petroleum fuel use for event boats/jet skis, and power generators for the contest tower and the Tavarua and Namotu resorts.
- Emissions related to food production and consumption for athletes and staff.
Mitigating the event’s CO2 footprint helps reduce direct threats to surfing from climate change/global warming such as: sea level rise, ocean acidification, reduced wave heights and loss of coral reefs globally.
The carbon (CO2) footprint from this year’s Volcom Fiji Pro event will be 100% offset through a partnership with Sustainable Surf (via Volcom’s 1% for the Planet pledge) that will source the highest quality, 3rd party certified carbon offsets. The chosen offsets produce both environmental and social benefits from the Kasigau Corridor REDD+ Project, and are developed by Wildlife Works — an award winning organization based in CA’s San Francisco bay area. A REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation) project is a climate change mitigation strategy introduced by the United Nations to help stop destruction of the world’s forests.
Wildlife Works’ REDD+ projects protect threatened forests, wildlife, and directly support rural communities by protecting over 500,000 acres of highly threatened Kenyan forest, securing the entire wildlife migration corridor between Tsavo East and Tsavo West National Parks, and bringing the benefits of direct carbon financing to more than 100,000 people in the surrounding communities. This project has been validated and verified under both the Verified Carbon Standard (VCS) and the Climate, Community and Biodiversity Standard (CCB).
Suggested improvements: The Volcom Fiji Pro did an admirable job reducing the climate impact of this year’s event (13% lower than 2013) and mitigating the remainder of the CO2 footprint related to operations. However, there was limited public communication of how this effort directly supports the health of the world’s living coral reefs, including the reefs that create the world class waves at both Cloudbreak and Restaurants. We recommend increased visibility about this important issue via the event webcast and website — this would be a very positive improvement.
ASP Green Guidelines Recommendation: Enable shuttle services, source hybrid/alternative energy powered vehicles, and encourage the use of public and alternative transportation for event spectators. Minimum Goal: provide shuttle service to and from event for event staff, and/or encourage and facilitate the use of human powered modes of transport such as biking, skateboarding and walking by local spectators.
Result: Largely not applicable as recommended by the ASP green guidelines due to the unique nature of the contest location. However, some important efforts uniquely suited to this specific contest site have been made to reduce the impact of boat transportation on Tavarua’s coral reefs.
Unlike many other world tour surfing events, the Volcom Fiji Pro is not an event that can draw much of a live spectator crowd, due to the remote location of the contest site. As such, the Transportation category is not applicable as there are no large crowds that need transportation to the event site. Boats and jet skis are the main form of transport for athletes, event staff and media for this event.
To help protect the reef around Tavarua island from wear and tear related to boat transport to local surf spots, Tavarua Island Resort has installed and maintains 14 reef mooring systems that eliminate the need to anchor and thereby reduce damage to live coral due to anchors being dropped repeatedly in the same spot.
TIR is making progress towards reducing the pollution from their transport boats. They are in the R&D phase of determining how best to update their fleet of boats so that they can use four-stroke engines. These engines are more fuel efficient and have significantly reduced pollution when compared to two-stroke engines. Dylan Fish, Manager of Tavarua Island Resort, reports that they have just purchased a new longboat specifically designed for a four-stroke engine which should be up and running by August 2013.
Suggested improvements: Continue progress toward switching more of TIR’s boat fleet to four stroke engines. Also, collect data on the relatively small amount of spectator boats that do come over from neighboring islands, and measure the additional impact from these vessels.
ASP Green Guidelines Recommendation: Source significant portion of power from clean, renewable energy sources.
Minimum goal is 25% renewable energy utilization for event’s power needs.
Result: The electrical energy needs of the contest and the resorts were met by diesel power generators that used a total of 4500 liters of petroleum diesel fuel during the contest period. No renewable energy was generated or used.
Suggested improvements: Continue progress toward sourcing a significant volume of local biodiesel. Also look into possible options for solar technology to provide lighting and hot water. This switch could allow a larger reduction in the resort’s CO2 footprint and provide a pathway for future surfing contests to be powered by renewable energy.
The authors on this report are: Michael Stewart and Kevin Whilden of Sustainable Surf, with assistance from Dylan Fish, Manager of Tavarua Island Resort, as well as Dr. Jess Ponting of the Center for Surf Research at San Diego State University.
* Special thanks to legendary surfing photographer Tom Servais for the use of his engaging images in this report, and to Tavarua Island Resort for additional operations photos. Thanks also to Rachel O’Reilly from Wildlife Works for the photos from their amazing Kasigau Corridor REDD+ Project.
** Extra Special thanks to Derek Sabori, Sr. Director of Sustainability at Volcom, for his leadership and general stoke for wanting to highlight Volcom’s major surf contests as a platform for showcasing how the surf culture and the surfing industry are pushing sustainability forward in the most engaging way possible.
*** Super Extra Special thanks goes to both Volcom Executive Chairman Richard “Wooly” Woolcott and CEO Jason Steris for backing these sustainability efforts 100%, once again demonstrating that Volcom as a brand is interested in creating the trends in sustainability and not simply following them.