Everything started with one lobbying action


It all starts with one step. In 1990, a first thought, followed by a decision to act, a first approach, brought Surfrider Europe to where it is today. The fight for Ocean protection took root in one action and sparked the foundation for 30 years of commitment. This is the fourth part of a series dedicated to celebrating three decades of Surfrider Foundation Europe. Let’s take a look back to 1996 when the organization first began its lobbying efforts: 

24 years ago, Surfrider Europe’s lobbying as we know it today, was born from one first action. Everything started with: 

A year : 1996. 

"15 individuals according to the Belgian police, a band of surfers according to the organizers"

One action: Speak out for clean water  

Several members of Surfrider Europe went to Brussels and Strasbourg to demonstrate and lobby. The organization joined forces with Surfers Against Sewage to make their claims heard by Parliament representatives. They took advantage of the EEC (European Economic Community) environmental commission meeting about bathing water quality to organize a gathering.  

One fight: The revision of the European directive on bathing water quality

Legislative texts on bathing water quality were pretty outdated in 1998, based on the 1976 European directive, and only required bacteriological analysis. Surfrider Europe urged policy makers to revise the parameters, broaden the spectrum of analysis, and improve communication to the public. 

A first victory: Surfrider Europe is welcomed in Brussels 

On April 24th-25th , 2001, during Green Week, the organization was welcomed in Brussels to take part in the development of the new bathing water quality directive. Lobbying actions did not truly take a European dimension until 2010, when a permanent office was set up in Brussels’ parliament.  

Further Victories: lobbying at Surfrider Europe summed up in 5 key successes 

2009 : Surfrider Europe participated for the first time in the European Maritime Day in Rome. These consultations and brainstorming sessions aim to find solutions to better preserve marine environment, and lessen the impact of human activities on ocean life. Surfrider Europe organized a workshop and delivered a petition to Joe Borg, Maritime Affairs European Commissioner, to have waste acknowledged as a pollution.  

2014 : During a campaign for European elections, Surfrider Europe called out the candidates and asked them, through a questionnaire about the organization’s work programs, whether or not they would be ready to commit to protecting the Ocean. 81 MP across 4 countries (France, Germany, Netherlands and Spain) answered among the 238 that were questioned.

2015 : On the occasion of the COP21, Surfrider Europe, as a member of the Ocean and Climate platform (coalition between NGOs and scientific research institutes supported by the UNESCO intergovernmental Ocean Commission) contributed to integrating the Ocean in the preamble of the Paris Agreement. This is the first time a link between the Ocean and climate change was formalized at the international law level. 

2016 : As a result of several years of fight from Surfrider Europe working as a member of the Break Free From Plastic coalition, the single-use plastic bag ban finally came into effect in France and the ban on plastic cotton swabs was scheduled to follow in 2020. 

2018 : Through Voice for the Ocean project, Surfrider Europe carried the voice of 7000 citizens to European election candidates. All together, they called out for the adoption of concrete measures to prioritize Ocean health. 

24 years after its first victory in Brussels, Surfrider Europe’s lobbying power is stronger than ever, charging forward into another three decades of policy wins for the Ocean. Discover all on-going Surfrider Europe lobbying actions. 

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our values


The passion for the oceans, the coastline and the pleasures animate everyone who supports Surfrider and guides the organization's action.


Surfrider is rooted in the value of sharing and participation through inclusion and diversity.


Surfrider seeks a harmonious relationship between humans and nature.