New World Wide Fund for Nature’s (WWF) Ocean Ambassador and two-time Olympic champion Dorian van Rijsselberghe will compete in next weeks RS:X European Championship in Mallorca. The WWF’s famous panda will be proudly emblazoned on his sail, as well as the WWF slogan; "Be one with nature". As a global Ocean Ambassador, Van Rijsselberghe and WWF are committed to protecting marine life. The surfer and the international nature organization announced this just ahead of the European Championship.
Dorian van Rijsselberghe: “As a society, we have to think about how we will leave the world behind for the next generations. As a top athlete, I go to the most beautiful locations around the world to train and compete. I want my children to be able to enjoy this wonderful world, and it’s fantastic that I can use my reputation for this purpose. "
Stephanie Verbeek, head of WWF's Oceans Program : “The effects of plastic pollution are visible all over the world, and marine life is becoming increasingly threatened. Awareness and public pressure are crucial to turn the tide. With Dorian as an Ocean Ambassador, we can achieve even more worldwide.”
Van Rijsselberghe continues: “When I’m on my surfboard, I have to be more one with nature than anywhere else to be able to perform. Since 2014, I have been fighting single-use plastic, but just talking about what we should not do is not enough for me. I want to also draw attention to other initiatives, such as nature recovery in the North Sea, more protected ocean areas and attention for endangered marine species.”
Plastic also a big problem in Palma
Van Rijsselberghe: “We deliberately chose to compete in Palma de Mallorca for the first time with WWF on the sail. Plastic is a big problem here, but people don’t know about it. About 66,000 full garbage trucks of plastic ends up in the Mediterranean Sea here, which is largely enclosed here. This leads to a huge accumulation of plastic. It is not just the local people but also the tourists who visit the area. I was shocked when I heard that litter is increasing by 40 percent due to tourism. That’s just not right; we are guests. "
In the coming year, the windsurfer and the nature organization will jointly call attention to clean seas at different occasions, such as at the very first water sports and music festival WAVES on the Dutch island of Texel in June. This is an initiative by Van Rijsselberghe.
Picture: Nick Dempsey Photography