Youth Policy Advisory Council

SOA’s Youth Policy Advisory Council (YPAC) is comprised of an international group of 16 young Ocean Leaders from 16 countries recognized for their policy acumen and passion for ocean health.
The YPAC is an opportunity for youth to demonstrate their capacity to bring about massive ocean action. With expert voices from hemisphere to hemisphere the skill and enthusiasm of our Ocean Leaders exemplifies how necessary we are in policy creation.
In 2020, the YPAC will focus their efforts on building momentum behind SOA's call for a 10-year, global moratorium on seabed mining and on assessing young people's priorities for the blue economy that can help inform national Blue Deal plans.
 
In Honor of UN International Youth Day 2020, YPAC members came together on Instagram to discuss their passion for the ocean and the reason they’re teaming up in 2020 to bring awareness to Deep-Seabed Mining and creating a Blue New Deal. Watch the recording below.

North American and the Caribbean

Mark Haver
YPAC Chair, USA

Mark has been an involved SOA young ocean leader for three years and has been instrumental in our work to develop a global framework for Blue New Deal policies. He recently finished his undergraduate degree and is working full-time with the Florida Democratic Party to elect Joe Biden for president. He hopes to be pulled into the White House to advise climate and ocean policy.

Nicolas P Florestal
HAITI

Nicolas has worked as an ecodiver in the main MPAs of Haiti since 2011 at different levels. He and his team were able to convince the Haitian government to declare the first MPAs network in the country.

Latin America

Marina Porto
YPAC Vice-Chair, BRAZIl

Marina is from from Brazil, currently living in Denmark for her masters degree in Environmental and Natural Resource Economics. She has engaged in several projects related to sustainable production and consumption, climate change and marine litter, and she is currently writing her thesis on the economics of circular economy. 

Diwigdi Valiente
PANAMA

Diwi is a member of the indigenous Guna people of Central America. In his lifetime, the Guna islands will disappear under the rising sea, that is why he developed and leads different initiatives to raise awareness and inspire political action against climate change and plastic pollution in Panama.

Europe

Leonie Meier
YPAC Secretary, GERMANY

Leonie works as consultant at the Forestry and Timber Section of the UN Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) and the Food and Agricuolture Organization (FAO) in Geneva, Switzerland, where she focuses on sustainable textiles and the management of boreal forests. She wrote her Master's thesis on private environmental governance of microbeads in the cosmetics industry, which led her to attend the Ocean Youth Summit in Malta in 2017. Since then, she is a regular contributor to the Little Blue Letter, a newsletter dedicated to positive ocean-related news.

Lucie Guirkinger
BELGIUM

Lucie is half-French half-Colombian and lived in several countries while growing up, all with access to the oceans! She is a passionate marine conservationist who recently graduated from the University of Cambridge where she investigated fishers' non-compliance and how this can be fostered. I managed several projects on various species, going from corals to sharks, rays and turtles.

Africa

Oghenekevwe Christopher Oghenechovwen
NIGERIA

Oghenekevwe lives in Warri, Nigeria, and currently works as a freelance research analyst and writer. Kevwe’s first degree was in Meteorology from the Federal University of Technology Akure, and he is working his way to grad school in Earth and Ocean Sciences. In the past, he has contributed to projects, stories, and strategies at The EIU, World Oceans Day Youth Advisory Council, Ocean Knowledge Action Network, UN MGCY, Wellbeing for Women, YourCommonwealth, Impakter, Care About Climate, and The Green Institute. 

Pauline Owiti
KENYA
Pauline is a Kenyan citizen who is currently leading volunteering as a Program Lead for Marine Arctic Peace sanctuary(MAPS) - Kenya which is aimed at declaring the Arctic ocean an International Peace Park free from exploitation.

Oceania and Small-Island Developing States

Jeremy Raguain
SEYCHELLES
Jeremy is from the Seychelles and lives on the main island of Mahe. For him island living entails being close and dependent on our ocean, for food, livelihood, health, recreation and so much more. His studies in environmental sciences and international relations as well as experience working for the Seychelles Islands Foundation which manages Seychelles UNESCO World Heritage Sites, Aldabra Atoll in particular, has shown him that that experiences, good and bad, need to be shared for meaningful collective progress. 
Alanna Smith
COOK ISLANDS

Alanna recently completed a Masters of Conservation. She is currently based in the Cook Islands working for an Environmental NGO 'Te Ipukarea Society'. Her experience includes working on small Marine Spatial Planning
projects, biodiversity surveys from corals to invertebrates and seabirds, and raising awareness in plastic pollution. 

Southern Asia

Naghmana Bhatti
PAKISTAN

Naghmana is a senior maritime researcher at National Institute of Maritime Affairs, Karachi and an IOI Ocean Ambassador to Pakistan, as designated by International Ocean Institute, Dalhousie University. Apart from occasional writing in English and Urdu newspapers, she also participates as guest speaker in a number of seminars, conferences and workshops at national and International level. Her research and teaching interest includes; Blue economy, maritime security in the Indian Ocean, ocean governance and maritime environment challenges.

Surangika Jayarathne
SRI LANKA

Surangika Jayarathne is from Colombo, Sri Lanka. She works as a Researcher in the areas of sustainable blue economy, climate change and maritime security in South Asia.

Eastern Asia

Lu Fang
CHINA

Lu Fang leads the seafood sustainability assessment effort of NGO Qingdao Marine Conservation Society in China. She also provides scientific and analytical support to several sustainable fisheries and aquaculture projects. 

Southeastern Asia

Lucy (Zi Ni) Wong
MALAYSIA

Lucy is from Malaysia and works as a communication officer in WWF Malaysia, focusing on community behavioural change. She co-started a marine debris mapping project from ground clean-up data called Map-O-Debris. She attended the Our Ocean Youth Leadership Summit 2018 and Accelerator At Sea program to Alaska with SOA last year. In the first 5 months of 2019, she also worked as a dive assistant in Taiwan where she developed my passion for underwater photography.

Roger Joseph (Rocky) Guzman
PHILIPPINES
Rocky is an environmental lawyer and ocean policy specialist from the Philippines. He has held positions as policy campaigner and fellow for various environmental non-profits, where he handled campaigns from fisheries management and ending illegal fishing, to marine conservation and strengthening the rule of law.

Western Asia

Fidan Karimova
AZERBAIJAN

Fidan works in the water industry to bridge the gap between water and wastewater utility subscriber needs and available technologies in the market. She has an extensive knowledge of the innovation industry, having previously worked on helping entrepreneurs from around the world transition from idea to implementation. She graduated from the University of Maryland with a Bachelor’s degree in International Business and a Master’s degree in Environmental Management. Fidan is an avid ocean supporter and artist. She enjoys creating artwork to support organizations working keeping our oceans clean for future generations.