Ocean elders tap WCPA and IUCN for new advisors

12 September 2013 | Article

Ocean Elders have recently appointed a group of four world experts on oceans to advise them. The names will be familiar to many, with two drawn from IUCN and the WCPA. Dan Laffoley is Marine Vice-Chair for WCPA and Principal Advisor on Marine Science and Conservation for IUCN's Global Marine and Polar Programme. Kirstina Gjerde is a high seas policy advisor for IUCN’s Global Marine and Polar Program. Since late 2008, she has also been working with Census scientists and others to establish the Global Ocean Biodiversity Initiative.

“I am delighted and honoured to be appointed,” said Dan. “This is a major opportunity working with the Ocean Elders and my fellow advisors to pick up the pace of conservation efforts, to increase the effectiveness of our work, and foster greater innovation and outreach in what we all do.”

The appointment comes as WCPA Marine prepares for IMPAC 3, the 3rd International Marine Protected Areas Congress, which will be held in Marseille and Corsica, France, from 21 – 27 October.  WCPA Marine will be involved in the Congress through workshops and side events, and will debut two new task forces – one a collaboration with IUCN’s Species Survival Commission on marine mammal protected areas, and another focused on community-based and local marine area management.

The two other recently appointed advisors are Lisa Speer and Greg Stone. Lisa is Director of National Resource Development Council's (NRDC) international oceans program in New York. Her expertise is in the area of management and conservation of biodiversity, fisheries, and ecosystems of the high seas and the Arctic marine environment. Greg is Executive Vice President of Conservation International. A lifelong scientific explorer and prolific diver, with more than 8,000 dives to date in every sea on Earth, Greg has lived underwater for 30 days in a habitat and has dived to 18,000 feet in submersibles.

Ocean Elders is an independent group of global leaders who have joined together to serve as a catalyst in the conservation and protection of the ocean and its wildlife. Its leaders use their collective influence, supported by science and data, to promote ocean conservation, pursue the protection of the ocean’s habitat and wildlife, and preserve its ecosystems and species biodiversity.

Formed in 2010 in support of IUCN Patron of Nature Dr. Sylia Earle in her wish to draw public attention to the urgent need for ocean protection, Ocean Elders welcomed Dr. Earle, as its first member in June of that year.  Those that have joined since include Sir Richard Branson, Jackson Browne, Dr. Rita Colwell, Jean-Michel Cousteau, Graeme Kelleher, Sven Lindblad, Her Majesty Queen Noor, Nainoa Thompson, Ted Turner, Captain Don Walsh, Neil Young, and most recently H.S.H. Prince Albert II of Monaco.  Over time, more Ocean Elders will be added, with an effort to include individuals from Africa, China, India, Japan, and Central and South America.