The Youth Policy Advisory Council (YPAC) is an international group of Young Ocean Leaders recognized for their policy acumen and dedication to furthering environmental regulation.




YPAC is a group of Young Ocean Leaders who work together on a mandate to ensure global ocean policy initiatives reflect youth perspectives from around the world. 

YPAC's mandate includes three pillars of action:


Offer key input on SOA’s policy initiatives to ensure young leaders’ priorities are represented and integrated. 


Amplify SOA’s policy initiatives within global and regional networks, and with other exceptional young leaders. 

3. ACT

Translate SOA’s policy initiatives and recommendations into real-world action, including by representing SOA and the youth voice within policy forums.

Since its founding in 2020, the Youth Policy Advisory Council has activated a robust policy agenda. Currently, YPAC is working on their Global Blue New Deal campaign, and a Moratorium on Deep-Sea Mining. 
Quick Action Opportunity: Review the Global Blue New Deal draft here, and sign the GBND open letter.


The 2022 Youth Policy Advisory Council includes member representation from six global regions.

  • elle wibisono

    Elle Wibisono

    (YPAC Chair) Indonesia

    Elle Wibisono grew up in Indonesia and received her Ph.D. in sustainable fisheries management from the University of Rhode Island.

    Recently, she was a Knauss Marine Policy Fellow at the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation. In addition to being a fishery and marine policy scientist, she is also a science communicator and creates fish comics to promote fishery science and demystify marine science.

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  • rayne sullivan

    Rayne Sullivan

    (Co-Chair) USA

     Rayne’s work focuses on climate change, tech and environmental law, Indigenous innovation, as well as nature-based solutions and social entrepreneurship in island communities.

    At PreCOP26, Rayne represented the United States at the UN’s inaugural Youth4Climate Summit, specifically advocating for Hawai'i and Oceans.

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  • selene alvarez pena

    Selene Alvarez Peña

    (Secretary) Spain

    Selene Alvarez Peña holds an MSc in marine and lacustrine sciences and management from Vrije Universiteit Brussel. Since 2014, Selene has worked with various NGOs to help articulate their vision and stories.

    In December 2018, she joined the International Fisheries program of The Pew Charitable Trusts in Brussels. She produces persuasive policy analysis, fully supported with science-based information. In the past, Selene worked with the European Commission and United Nations Environment Programme. 

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  • jay marisca gietzelt

    Jay Marisca Gietzelt

    (Network and Community Manager) The Netherlands

    Jay is half-Dutch, half-Colombian, but grew up surrounded by the sea in Thailand, where she quickly developed an obsession for coral reefs and octopuses.

    Jay is currently finishing her Master of Science thesis on collaborative governance and adaptation in Marine Protected Areas. She will be doing her end-of-study internship on ocean and climate policy. 

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  • Gideon Sarpong pic

    Gideon Sarpong


    Gideon Sarpong is a policy analyst and media practitioner with a decade of experience in policy, data and investigative journalism.

    He is a co-founder of iWatch Africa and the Ghana Hub Lead of Sustainable Ocean Alliance. Gideon is currently a Reuters Fellow at University of Oxford, UK and previously a Policy Leader Fellow at the European University Institute with interests in ocean conservation and climate

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  • pauline owiti

    Pauline Owiti


    Pauline Owiti is a professional agronomist and a community development agent. She is the Founder of The Polly Foundation, a community-based initiative training the community on best practices of sustainable organic farming and afforestation. 

    She has a strong background in ocean conservation and climate advocacy, She worked as an  event coordinator at Mock COP26 and served as the National Coordinator of Kenya at the United Nations Conference of Youth. With much interest in Ocean Conservation, Pauline has worked as a Project Lead for Kenya at Parvati Foundation, an initiative aiming to declare Arctic Ocean a Marine Protected Area and most importantly served as an inaugural member of Sustainable Ocean Alliance Youth Policy Advisory Council as African Representative. She has received training on climate matters from different institutions including Climate Reality  Corps, Oxford Climate Society, AGNES (ICIPE Campus) and Care About Climate.  Her major goal is to create a sustainable healthy planet and a space where youth voices are  considered into decision making practices as part of participation and democracy. 

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  • esther maina

    Esther Maina


    Esther is a nature, climate and ocean advocate. She has a background in Environmental Science and is an environmental consultant by profession. 

    She is the Marine Action Coordinator for Kenyan Youth Biodiversity Network, ocean advocate with Ocean Conservation Trust and is honored to work in cooperation with the Ocean Literacy Community through National Marine Educators Association. She has been involved in developing policy recommendations for ocean protection including through COY 16, curation of educational content and development of actionable strategies through systems and design thinking aimed at increasing environment and ocean literacy with various stakeholders. Esther’s goal in life is to inspire land-to-sea conservation and galvanize action for coordinated protection of these ecosystems.

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  • sheena-talma

    Sheena Talma


    Sheena Talma is marine biology consultant from the Seychelles. She consults for Nekton, a UK-based NGO, as their science and knowledge exchange program manager, and for Save Our Seas Foundation as their D'Arros children marine camp coordinator.

    She is also a part-time lecturer at the University of Seychelles. Sheena has a passion for generating science within Seychelles and the Indian Ocean.  She is especially interested in education and awareness-raising programs that will garner a new generation of marine scientists and enthusiasts.

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  • eva ndamono shitaatala

    Eva Ndamono Shitaatala


     Eva Shitaatala is a trained environmental scientist from Namibia with a Masters in Environmental Engineering. 

    Ms. Shitaatala is passionate about delivering environmental, youth engagement, and blue economy. Her desires are to lobby in identifying gaps in oceanic policy and addressing them; addressing environmental challenges and co-creating sustainable solutions inspired by youth.

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  • Dana Ahmed-2

    Dana Ahmed


    Dana is an 18-year-old Egyptian, though born and raised in Abu Dhabi. She has studied environmental systems and global politics whilst researching the correlation between waste production, gender, and the role of youth in promoting climate action and its impact on achieving the SDGs.

    She's a member of IRENA’s Youth Forum and was a youth delegate and council member in the ninth and tenth IRENA assembly session in 2020, which stressed the global energy transition, green hydrogen and youth participation in decision and policy making. She's Egypt’s current contact point in SDG7 constituency group and an active member of YOUNGO Ocean’s Voice working group. She works closely with Egypt’s NREA and is writing a research paper about Egypt’s road to achieving zero net targets by 2030.

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  • Yoko Lu

    Yoko Lu


    Yoko is a "multipotentialite" and a recent graduate M.Sc. Environmental Biology. She is a globetrotter who has lived in China, Japan, Finland, United Kingdom, and Belize to pursue her interests. 

    She is Co-Founder of the CYBN and has been involved with the International Union Conservation of Nature (IUCN) World Commission on Protected Areas (WCPA) as a youth representative. Her passions include outdoor exploration, music making, and volunteerism.

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  • luciana verastegui

    Luciana Verastegui Mondaca


    Luciana Verástegui is a 19 year old Mexican and ocean advocate. She is the leader and coordinator of the Ocean’s Voice working group which belongs to the Youth Constituency of the UNFCCC.

    Luciana has worked in national and international consultancies. She has been a Project Manager for a Danish consultancy where she advised Ecuadorian entrepreneurs on sustainability and regenerative economy. She’s also worked with a Mexican consultancy, where she was in charge of the creation of blue carbon conference focused on governance, in Baja California, Mexico. As a young leader, her goal is to raise the sense of urgency to address ocean problems, create alliances, push local initiatives, and to have a seat as youth in the negotiations within the Paris Agreement.

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  • joseph julca mendoza

    Joseph Anthony Julca Mendoza


    Joseph is a Peruvian marine biologist working towards a Master's degree in science communication in Spain. Joseph is an active participant in political projects and initiatives in Chile, among them advocacy work to introduce ocean health, conservation, and restoration measures into the new constitution.

  • maria ermida

    Maria Ermida


    After graduating in Law from Universidade Católica Portuguesa, Maria discovered her passion for Law of the Sea and decided to pursue an academic law career in this area. 

    She completed an interdisciplinary Postgraduate Program on Sea Science and Business Administration. With the knowledge she acquired, she then completed her master's degree in International and European Law at Universidade Nova in Lisbon, where she wrote her Master's Dissertation on the Precautionary Principle applied to Deep-Sea mining. She is currently working on her PhD focused on the governance of Global Commons with a focus on the Ocean, whilst also working as a researcher at Católica Research Centre for the Future of Law.

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  • kaja lonne fjaertoft

    Kaja Lønne Fjærtoft


    Kaja is a marine biologist specializing in environmental aspects of deep sea mining & petroleum activity, marine spatial planning, and science.

    She is currently working with deep seabed mining and sustainable oceans at World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF). Kaja is a free-diving instructor, and spends her free time volunteering with Passion for Ocean organizing ocean literacy programs in schools and ocean festivals for the public.

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  • Olga Mironenko

    Olga Mironenko


    Olga Mironenko is an environmental scientist from Russia with a research background in the plastic pollution of marine ecosystems.

    Olga has contributed to a number of online courses on ocean health and sustainability, authored a book and a board game on eco-friendly habits, and has solid experience in ESG managing sustainability projects. Olga is currently working on the deep-sea mining issue and is the co-author of the Deep Sea Mining Simulation. 

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  • john paul jose

    John Paul Jose


    John Paul Jose is an environmental and climate justice advocate hailing from the coastal state of Kerala in India.

    He is engaged in various engagements through individual action, collaborations and activism. He believes crosscutting and multiple actions inclusive of diverse youth as major drivers of change. 

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  • jin tanaka

    Jin Tanaka


    As a member of YOUNGO, Jin participates in the activities of NDC and LCOY, and as Branch Manager of UNISC International, a youth-led non-governmental organization with special consultative status to the United Nations Economic and Social Council.

    As a Branch Manager of UNISC International, a youth-led non-governmental organization with special advisory status to the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations, he advocates for environmental conservation activities, especially climate change, in Japan and abroad. He aims to present concrete and science-based proposals for youth-led climate change measures by linking them to ocean conservation and energy measures.

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  • Danian Singh

    Danian Singh


    Danian is an academic based at the University of Fiji, School of Science and Technology, where he conducts courses in ecology and conservation. 

    He is also an active volunteer at the SOA Pacific Hub based in Fiji Islands. Currently, he is pursuing his higher postgraduate studies and research with an emphasis on conservation in Pacific Islands.  Also, Danian is an avid advocate for conservation of marine species and preservation of ecological knowledge in the Pacific Islands. 

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  • ivory vogt

    Ivory Vogt


    A lover of oceans and mountains with a positive outlook on life, Ivory has a passion for preserving the environments and cultures of the iconic island destinations that we love. 

    Ivory currently manages Sustainable Travel International’s climate and resilience program, helping businesses and destinations measure, reduce, and offset their carbon footprint. While working remotely, she loves doing yoga, playing guitar, and traveling to go diving or skiing in her free time.

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  • Ela Gokcigdem

    Ela Gokcigdem


    Ela Gokcigdem is a passionate social entrepreneur and climate activist currently attending school in Boston, MA. After witnessing the impacts of urbanization on her family's home island in Avsa, Turkey, she became dedicated to youth empowerment in order to create change. 

    Serving on numerous leadership positions within the climate movement, she strives to use her positions to advocate for marginalized communities, like the residents of her home island, and other communities whose rich ecological intelligence goes overlooked.

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