Dr Neil Lazarow

Dr Neil Lazarow

Senior Research Scientist

Beaches are arguably the most valuable of coastal tourism assets. Around beaches, communities develop and tourism markets expand, often resulting in intimate human interaction with diverse environments.

Increasingly, surfing communities and their supporters are becoming aware of the fragility of waves and the spectre of inappropriate development to significantly and mostly negatively impact wave quality, which is the defining feature of Surfing Capital. Surfonomics is growing rapidly in response, driven by a desire to demonstrate to key decision-makers the important economic value that surfing has for many coastal cities, towns and villages. In some cases these arguments have helped to win the day, e.g. Kirra and Trestles; and in other cases they’ve arrive too late or been dismissed, e.g. Bastion Point.

But what are the risks of pricing what many view as intangible assets? Can surfbreaks simply be destroyed if there is a better economic argument for a cruise ship terminal or simply traded away for a wavepool that generates waves on demand? Surfers’ have a higher carbon footprint on balance compared to the average Joe so what credible moral resource might we have in mounting arguments based around sustainability?

Perhaps we need to look more closely at surfing and surf-culture itself to learn more about how to protect what we love and value? Rapid growth and participation in surfing demands that surfing is heard alongside other sports like basketball and football and resourced appropriately, even perhaps augmenting waves in some places. Surfing’s’ strength is in its highly desirable, hedonistic sometimes communal, active and often healthy lifestyle. This is a powerful force that must be focused on the protection and celebration of Surfing Capital.

Dr Neil Lazarow is a Senior Research Scientist with Australia’s national science agency; the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO). Neil currently works on a range of projects in Australia, SE Asia and Latin America that focus on complex societal trade-offs around the water-food-energy nexus.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Neil has a PhD in Environmental Science and Natural Resource Management and degrees in Political Science and Coastal Planning and Management; complemented by 15 years experience in across academia, government, industry and the not-for-profit sector.

Neil is a coastal sector specialist and his work in this domain has focused primarily on policy and institutional dimensions, climate adaptation, urban development, tourism, social research and economics for decision-making.

Neil was a global pioneer in the field of surfonomics, surfbreak protection and management strategies. He has actively researched and published in this field for over a decade. His PhD research and Global Wave Survey established leading practice approaches for the incorporation of ‘Surfing Capital’ into planning and management decisions; and his work continues to contribute to public policy decisions that affect the use and management of highly valued coastal resources.

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