Nuno Dias competes in the final bout at the 2015 European Shukokai Championships in Switzerland (Photo credit: European Sukokai Association)

Nuno Dias is working hard for achieve two big firsts.

The world class martial arts athlete and coach is hopeful of competing in his first Olympics — he will be 43 by the time the Olympic flame is lit in Tokyo in July 2021 — for Cape Verde in the first ever Olympic karate event.

Nuno Dias poses for GQ Magazine Portugal (Photo credit: GQ Magazine Portugal)

But it was as a lifeguard at Oerias Tower Beach in Lisbon where his concern about the environment, well, first exploded.

“For me the beach is a wonderful place and we need to take care of it,” recalled Dias. “I used to clean the sand and take off all the garbage that people would leave there at the end of the day. The amount of garbage, especially cigarettes, was unbelievable. The effects on the seagulls, on other the aquatic species, and to biodiversity is devastating. So I started to promote some awareness about this problem at that beach.”

As Dias nears the end of his competitive martial arts career, he has decided to devote at least part of his next chapter to publicizing environmental stewardship, including climate change.

“I still travel around the world, not so much to compete but to teach,” Dias acknowledged. “This means I’m in constant contact with people from a variety of countries and religions. This is one of the good things of sports – it allows me to talk about the climate change issue not only to a vast audience but also to different kinds of audiences, meaning people who normally don’t consider the issue.”

Simplicity is a core value in most martial arts disciplines. Dias, a renowned Karate, Jujitsu and Judo teacher, became the latest EcoAthletes Supporter in part because of the simplicity of its mission: To inspire and educate athletes to speak out confidently on climate change.

“Climate change is a reality and we all need to do something to turn things around,” stated Dias. “I want to be a voice that helps to promote the change. I want my action to generate action, that’s why it’s important for me to use my visibility as an athlete to build awareness about this issue and to inspire other athletes to join our cause. EcoAthletes is for me the right platform for me to do so.”

Dias went big when asked what success would like from his involvement with EcoAthletes.

“Success will be on both micro- and macro-levels,” Dias noted. “On the micro, success means athletes will inspire fans to make real climate-friendly changes to their daily routines. EcoAthletes’ #ClimateActionAtHome campaign is a great start in that direction. Here’s what macro success looks like: EcoAthletes and our partner organizations will have helped Portugal, Cape Verde and other countries around the world accelerate the use of renewable energy and enact policies with positive climate impacts. “

You can follow Nuno Dias on Instagram at @nuno.dias.treinador