IMPAC5: Meet SOA's Youth Delegation


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Sustainable Ocean Alliance is accelerating ocean solutions around the world. Here are their stories.

Sustainable Ocean Alliance is proud to introduce our official Youth Delegation for the Fifth International Marine Protected Areas Congress (IMPAC5) — a global forum that brings together ocean conservation professionals and international officials to inform, inspire, and act on marine protected areas (MPAs). 

From February 3-9, 2023, these four incredible delegates will be offering each of their unique perspectives (and urgent concerns) when it comes to ocean protection — such as deep-seabed mining, plastic pollution, habitat restoration, and more. Learn more about the delegates below. 


Alexander dungate

Musqueam Territory, Tsleil-Waututh, and Squamish Territory - Canada

Alexander welds together the worlds of fisheries and software innovation. As the Co-Founder of OnDeck Fisheries AI (SOA Grantee), Alexander is making fisheries monitoring scalable with artificial intelligence. Born and raised on the West Coast of British Columbia, Alexander grew up living, fishing, and playing in the beautiful Pacific Ocean. Alexander holds a B.Sc. (Computer Science + Biology) from the University of British Columbia and is always keen to talk about cool creatures in tide pools.

Emma Kirke

Territory of the Attawandaron (Neutral), Anishinaabeg, and Haudenosaunee Peoples - Canada

Emma is a young Canadian ocean professional and advocate for the integration of climate adaptation and biodiversity conservation, particularly in the marine space. In their final year of undergraduate studies majoring in Environment, Resource, and Sustainability Studies at the University of Waterloo, Emma is passionate about the adaptive governance of our oceans and marine spaces in the face of current and future threats. Emma’s experience includes working on the bi-national management plans for the Great Lakes for Environment and Climate Change Canada and working in public affairs for a coalition of Canadian eNGOs. As a volunteer, they have engaged with a number of organizations including Ocean Wise, Ontario Nature, Nature Canada, Plenty Canada, and David Suzuki Foundation. In participating in IMPAC5, Emma is looking forward to making invaluable connections with experts in that field, alongside connections with other young people passionate about the protection of coastal and marine spaces.

Laura hernandez

Territory of the Anishinaabe Algonquin Nation - Canada

Laura Hernandez Merlano is a Colombo-Canadian environmental justice advocate who lives in awe of the planet, particularly the ocean. Born in Medellin, Colombia and raised in Ontario, Laura studied Economics at the University of Ottawa and currently works as a Policy Analyst at Global Affairs Canada. Being an avid community volunteer, she recently co-chaired the Youth Advisory Council for the Jane Goodall Institute of Canada where she continued decolonizing her intersectional environmentalism. Laura’s dream is to live by the ocean where she can support coastal community resilience and conservation. In her spare time, Laura enjoys cooking new plant-based recipes, staying active outdoors, and playing her ukulele, especially by a campfire.

Copy of hackathon winning teams

Musqueam Territory, Tsleil-Waututh, and Squamish Territory - Canada
Bodhi Patil is a multiethnic, young ocean climate solutionist passionate about the interconnection between Ocean Health and Human Health (OHHH). He is a second-year student at the University of British Columbia majoring in Environment and Sustainability with a Masters in Business Management. As the founder of Inner Light, co-creator of Ocean Uprise, co-founder of Sea Dragon Studios - One World Breath, co-winner of the United Nations Ocean Conference Youth & Innovation Forum, and UN Esteemed Young Leader, Bodhi supports young people to create impact at scale. He is the Chief Impact Officer at OnDeck Fisheries AI, and a Youth Advisor at Symbrosia Seaweed, World Ocean Day, and Break Free from Plastic.

Follow along with their #IMPAC5 journeys on social media at @SOAlliance over the next week!


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