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Save the Waves CostaRica pic no 3, ©EstebanDelgado

Developing Insurance Products for Surf Ecosystems and Surf Breaks

Developing Insurance Products for Surf Ecosystems and Surf Breaks

Project Lead: Save The Waves
Support: Received mentoring, training and financial support from the second cycle of the Ocean Resilience Innovation Challenge (ORIC), which was financially supported by Swiss Re Foundation and the UK’s Blue Planet Fund
Location: Mexico, Peru and the Maldives
Financial Innovation: Parametric Insurance for surf ecosystems


Through the second cycle of ORIC, ORRAA is supporting Save The Waves to safeguard surf ecosystems from the impacts of erosion and extreme weather events due to climate change. This is being done through a combination of securing protected area status for a surf location plus stewardship, community activism, and by creating and rolling out parametric insurance for key areas.

Save The Waves is an international non-profit organisation dedicated to protecting surf ecosystems across the globe.


Climate change has led to sea level rise and more extreme weather events, including storm surges and coastal flooding. This in turn has led to the denigration of Ocean floor features and undulations, and bays and head lands, which help create suitable waves for surfing. A sea swell, colliding with a coral reef or sand bank can generate big, barrelling waves good for surfing. This, together with the tourism and teaching communities around these coastal areas is the complete surf ecosystem. If the physical features that create surf waves are damaged or significantly altered by storm surges and other extreme weather events, the whole surf ecosystem is harmed.


Save The Waves is working with local surfing communities – particularly in Mexico, Peru and the Maldives – to incentivise the protection and conservation of surf ecosystems. Using “Surfonomics”, which involves valuing the quality of the break, Save the Waves is developing a bespoke parametric insurance product to insure and protect surf breaks and their associated tourism value. This insurance model helps financially sustain communities for loss of revenue due to coastal development or climate disaster that affects the ecosystem and its ability to produce surf breaks.

Save The Waves’ vision is a world where surf ecosystems are valued and protected and where surfing provides a vehicle for long-term coastal conservation. The global surfing industry is worth USD$9.5 billion [Surfing – statistics & facts]. Save The Waves’ goal is to protect 1,000 surf ecosystems by 2030.

Scalability and Next Steps

Save The Waves currently monitors over 5,000 surf spots around the world – 24 per cent of which are in key biodiversity areas. This makes the surfing industry important on many more levels, than the surfing community itself.

Supported by ORRAA, Save the Waves’ goal is to help give coastal communities the tools they need to be effective in valuing, protecting and managing their own natural resources. ORRAA’s support through the second cycle of ORIC, will help Save The Waves partner with more coastal communities in key areas in Mexico, Peru and the Maldives.