Portugal and California strengthen ties through surfing and conservation

Written By Manuel Poças

The Portuguese Consulate in San Francisco is working to strengthen the relationship between Portugal and California through surfing and conservation.

Consul Pedro Pinto is trying to leverage surfing as a way to further solidify the connection between the two places. His plan, which was presented at the “Surf Industry Sustainability Initiatives” conference organized by the Consulate and TMA Blue Tech in San Diego, aims to elevate Portugal’s profile in California in order to create mutually beneficial synergies at both, political and economic levels.

Apart from the shared passion for surfing, both territories tackle common challenges. This includes coastal protection and the existence of offshore renewable energy fields. According to the Consul, the important connection between the two territories that comes from the similarities between them can be fostered through surfing.

During the last decade, surfing in Portugal has been evolving from being seen as a leisure activity, to a thriving industry. The evolution of ‘surfonomics’ in the country is noticeable.

The term refers to the quality and economic impact of natural resources and surfing. Apart from the numerous surf schools, surfing is positively impacting local businesses, and benefiting the rental market.

California’s surfing paradigm has been thriving for decades. Hence, the Consulate is trying to establish a platform for exchanging experiences and drawing possible comparisons between California’s well-established sector, and Portugal’s fast-evolving one. This is intended to provide the basis for a maximization of Portugal’s ‘surfonomics’.

However, the Consul’s plans go beyond that. He believes the shared passion for surfing and the commitment to sustainability can give birth to a connection that can lead the way in addressing some of the deepest global challenges.

From effective coastal protection to a sustainable harness, and use of renewable energy, the collaboration between the two regions can set a precedent for all coastal areas worldwide.

These initiatives represent a peculiar approach to international relations. Portugal was not the first country to leverage a sport as a way to strengthen diplomatic relations and create value, but it may be the first to connect that to nature and sustainability.

As the world grapples with more urgent issues related to the environment, this partnership between Portugal and California may serve as a model for the future. 

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