January 6, 2020
Oceana Board Member Nicholas Davis is in the business of conservation
BY: Emily Petsko
Nicholas Davis, Oceana’s newest member of the Board of Directors, had just founded the 12-room Hotel Alaia in Punta de Lobos – a surfing town in central Chile with a world-famous wave – when he met Ramón Navarro. Davis is a highly successful Santiago-born financier, and Navarro is a famed surfer and environmentalist who grew up in Punta de Lobos.
The two men quickly realized, despite their different backgrounds, that they were passionate about protecting Punta de Lobos and its unique environment from a host of threats, including pulp mills, dams and unfettered development.
So, they joined forces and created the Fundación Punta de Lobos (Punta de Lobos Foundation). They began to win easements from private landholders and convert them into public spaces along Chile’s coastline, which helped prevent overdevelopment while also boosting local tourism, artisanal fishing, surfing and conservation. They began to make a real difference in Punta de Lobos, and the model worked so well that Davis and Navarro are now bringing it to other parts of Chile and to the sea.
Their success led Davis to attend the “Our Ocean Conference” in Chile, where he was introduced to Oceana Board Member Herbert Bedolfe. It’s also where he first heard about Oceana’s victory of protecting more than 300,000 square kilometers around the Desventuradas Islands – the largest marine park in the Americas. This win was followed by several others which have resulted in protection for about a quarter of Chile’s seas.
Davis was impressed. He was particularly taken by Oceana’s ability to take large, complex problems and address them with measurable and winnable campaigns.
“Oceana’s record of success and strategy of delivering meaningful and measurable progress for our oceans is unique,” he noted. “It’s something I wanted to be a part of.”
After deepening his relationship with Oceana and receiving an invitation to join Oceana’s Board of Directors, Davis formally became a board member in May 2019.
In Chile, Davis believes it’s important to empower artisanal fishers who aren’t adequately compensated for their catch. Oceana can help, he believes, by continuing Captiom to improve the traceability and transparency of seafood. This will help buyers and consumers understand the true value of different seafood products, while also ensuring that fishers receive fair wages for their products.
Davis is also passionate about addressing plastic pollution. It’s a problem he takes personally, as he, until recently, wore a bracelet made of recycled plastic to symbolize his concern. However, Davis has now taken off his bracelet to signify his belief that recycling isn’t the answer to an industry-created problem, especially as some forecasts call for plastic production to quadruple by the year 2050.
Globally, Oceana is campaigning for companies to offer plastic-free alternatives and for governments to pass common-sense bans on single-use plastics. In Chile, for instance, Oceana is trying to pass a law to reduce throwaway plastics. “If we can do this and be successful, it can be a model for other, larger countries to follow,” Davis said.
In addition to lending his expertise to Oceana’s Board and the Punta de Lobos Foundation, Davis also serves as the president of EuroAmerica, a Chilean insurance and financial services group. He lives in Santiago with his wife Paulina and his five children.
This story appears in the current issue of Oceana Magazine. Read it online here.