Youth Advisory Council
The World Ocean Day Youth Advisory Council helps develop World Ocean Day into a unique opportunity to connect and unite youth and others around our blue planet, with the focus on action for a healthier ocean and more sustainable society.
Adam Zhou is the founder of Earth Savers, an organization that has been recognized as the ranked #1 UNESCO high school organization in the Philippines, and as president, he has also been ranked #1 UNESCO youth leader in the country. The organization's flagship project, Project SWAP, has been featured in a National Geographic documentary for its upcycling awareness and educational programs and is the recent recipient of the Young Explorer Grant. He has conducted environmental research and created a climate change vulnerability framework that has been recognized in multiple international conferences and published in the IOPScience Journal. He is also one of 20 international scholars to work in the fully funded Samsung Engineering Environmental Engineering Academy. He has interned at the Asian Development Bank and delegated in the Asia Clean Energy Forum, conducting proposals on optimizing a sustainable transportation system in the Philippines.
Apart from his environmental interests, he is also heavily involved in the creative writing sphere. He is the author of In Taking Apart a Kaleidoscope from Indolent Books, published in December 2019, with over 30 other publications available online and in print. He is a winner of the Norman Maclean Non-Fiction Award, the Kathy Carlson and Emily Stauffer Award, and was one of ten high school writers included in Hyphen magazine’s Youth Poetry Folio for National Poetry Month in 2019. His writing heavily revolves around the themes of Chinese culture and Filipino politics.
He is currently taking a gap year before heading to Harvard University.
Arya Yurdacan is a 19-year-old young entrepreneur from Istanbul, Turkey. She believes that the World is a global country and being a global citizen is the overall nationality for all people. Everyone, everything is linked to each other and one movement affects the others. This is why she thinks and acts globally. One of Arya’s biggest aims is to improve lives through innovative solutions and empowering, inspiring people to dream big. She stated that ‘balancing one’s innovation, knowledge, and hard work with values, passion, and dedication creates leaders best equipped to change the world.’ She has realized that she can touch others’ lives by using her skills and developing global projects.
For her, real success is being able to touch people’s lives and making a positive impact on them.
She plans her projects to add positive outcomes not only for herself and for her environment but also the World. Living in a country with three sides covered with sea and spending her summertime on an island since her childhood, brings her closer to the sea. Her passion for the ocean started at the age of six when her parents had a sailing boat and joined rallies. After visiting different continents surrounding different parts of the ocean, she started to make visits to the north. She analyzed the arctic life, read the research, watched documentaries that derived attention to the ending of ocean life. She is the CEO and Co-founder of the Entella company. With her team she invented the machine, Mareen, to combat sea pollution by collecting solid waste and creating awareness.
The short introductory film about the ocean and her project was on the prime time news and daily newspapers. She gave live interviews and was invited to TV programs. Her company was chosen as the Company of the Year in the JA (Junior Achievement) Europe among 30,000 enterprises from 40 countries and also received the FedEx Access Award for connectivity and sustainability. She also gives mentorship to startups from different countries.
Arya is aware that it is very important to have the power and network to raise the awareness of others and motivate them to act. She thinks it is not enough to know the subject or have an idea for a project; it’s also very important to know how to turn it into action. Her desire, hard work, focus on her goal, and sustainable projects brought her an invaluable title. In August 2020, she was elected as one of ’20 the most talented entrepreneurs under the age of 20’ in Europe’s ‘20 under 20’.
She will implement her learnings to add to and empower the impact of World Ocean Day. She is excited to share her ideas, develop projects with the other Council members. Arya will also add different points of view and vision. Joining the other members coming from different backgrounds, Arya is honored to work with the World Ocean Day Youth Advisory Council and contribute to promoting World Ocean Day.
Belinda Tian-Wing Ng
Belinda Tian-Wing Ng
Born and raised in Hong Kong, Belinda is a passionate 20-year old sustainability advocate and leader. As an avid windsurfer, her passion for ocean conservation began upon discovering all the waste across Hong Kong’s beaches and coastal shorelines at the age of fourteen. Since then, Belinda has spearheaded various environmental initiatives focused on education, advocacy, and empowerment of young people for issues concerning marine plastic pollution in alliance with local and international NGOs. Some of these projects include high school campaigns about recycling, beach clean-ups, and most recently, a podcast about sustainability in Asia featuring prominent professionals across numerous sectors.
She is currently in her final year of university pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Geography at the University of Cambridge. Her interests lie in the intersectional nature of ocean conservation, technology, data science, and sustainability. She is the co-founder of an app at university which provides ways in which students can reduce their carbon emissions and waste production from food consumption, which won Grand Prize at Cambridge University’s ‘Gamifying Decarbonization’ competition. As a keen writer, she has also published numerous articles focused on various facets of environmental conservation for the Cambridge University Geographical Society’s ‘COMPASS’ magazine and Varsity student newspaper. Belinda seeks to continue contributing towards innovative solutions addressing the most pressing issues facing ocean health and biodiversity today, with aspirations to become a social and environmental entrepreneur. With her particular passion for education and youth empowerment, she hopes to empower fellow young people by fostering a culture of empathy and mutual support in the joint effort to advocate and make a difference for a more sustainable future.
Ee Jenn Lee
Ee Jenn Lee
Ee Jenn is a 16-year-old student living in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. While she lives in the city, some of her best memories have been made by the ocean – not a surprise, as Malaysia has almost 900 islands! However, she has noticed the number of pristine beaches dwindling and that what few biodiverse habitats are left are becoming overrun by irresponsible tourism. She hopes that the awareness raised by World Ocean Day can help reverse these trends.
Although she harbors a special love for oceans and other bodies of water, she is also passionate about protecting the environment as a whole. After years of volunteering in sporadic conservation efforts, Ee Jenn decided to become more involved in environmental activism this year as the COVID-19 pandemic helped her become even more aware of the impacts of climate change, such as its role in the transmission of pathogens. She also sees the wake of the pandemic as an opportunity for countries to rebuild in a more sustainable manner.
Ee Jenn joined her school’s Green student leadership team, volunteered and fundraised for a food rescue NGO that she felt tackled both hunger and the environmental impacts of food waste, and joined the Malaysian Youth Delegation (MYD), a youth-led climate organization. Although she has only recently joined MYD, she has worked on, among other projects, pitch decks for a program to increase public engagement with climate issues. She is also the Media and Communications Lead for Malaysia’s Local Conference of Youth (LCOY), a platform for youth to connect, learn more about climate action, and interact with experts and policymakers.
Aside from her environmental work, Ee Jenn is also a national debater and is interested in politics and economics, specifically exploring how these fields can help ensure ocean protection. She hopes to bring some of these perspectives to the table and is incredibly excited about this opportunity to inspire change. Above all, she looks forward to the next time she can visit the ocean.
Estefanía Aphang is a 16-year-old aspiring ocean and climate activist, who lives in Lima, Perú, and has a strong and deep connection with the ocean. She attends San Silvestre School and is currently apart of the ESD (Education for Sustainable Development) Council, Operation Smile Club, MUN (Model United Nations) club, Debate club, Ocean club. She is also the Sustainability and Environmental Tribe leader and part of other extracurricular activities.
Her burning passion for living a sustainable lifestyle, taking care of the environment, and protecting our oceans has highly motivated her to take part in different projects from empowerment and awareness conferences to service programs, where she was able to inspire the other young people to be change-makers and that every small action can make a difference.
Her active involvement in Round Square conferences about environmentalism and other activities related to the dreadful environmental issues (including single-use plastic, deforestation, pollution, natural disaster, and the fast fashion industry), lead to being a part of the ESD Council, where she demonstrated her keen interest and enthusiasm for learning more and sharing her knowledge about these severe threats, as well as sharing her passion for protecting our world. She got to express her fascination with plants and growing lots of plants, trees, flowers, fruits, and vegetables, as well as sharing her extreme passion for the conservation of the ocean. She also has expressed her concern for environmental issues through art to transmit a powerful message.
She had a lot of contact with the ocean since Lima is in the coastal part of Peru and she often went to the beach, igniting her love for the magnificent ocean. Every time she went, she was appalled by the massive amount of pollution and garbage found, highly motivating her to be eager to take part in the beach cleanings. She is aware that there are 8 million metric tons of plastic dumped each year into our ocean, and that by 2050 the ocean plastic will outweigh the ocean fish. She is also determined to protect the ocean because of all the water pollution that exacerbates climate change.
Estefanía loves marine species and the fact that they are at high risk, because of the 5.25 trillion macro and microplastic pieces floating in the open ocean, truly concerns her. That’s why through competitions and campaigns, she encourages the making of ecobricks at her school, which is a way to safely secure plastic out of the biosphere to make reusable building blocks for various projects that create green spaces.
By being part of the World Ocean Day Youth Advisory Council, Estefania hopes to inspire change for marine conservation and for young people to be encouraged and inspired to acknowledge the importance of being sustainable and taking care of our ocean and environment, as well as taking action, since there is no planet B and the Sustainable Development Goals need to be achieved. Estefanía strongly believes in the phrase by Wangari Maathai: “It’s the little things citizens do. That’s what will make the difference.”
Jose Marie Eslopor
Jose Marie Eslopor
Born and raised in one of the World Mega Biodiversity countries, Jose Marie was able to witness the marvel and essence of the Philippine seas. At a very young age, he loved the seas as if it were a part of him, making sea creatures as his imaginary friends – the whales, dolphins, and turtles. This deep connection with the ocean gave all the reason for this 23-year-old seatizen to move out from the small coastal city of Ormoc to the Wester Visayas region to seek his passion and purpose in life.
Jose Marie Eslopor is taking up a Master of Marine Affairs at the University of the Philippines Visayas in Miagao, Iloilo. His bond with the seas led him to volunteer in a coastal clean-up in 2016, which eventually drew him towards advocating for marine conservation and combatting plastic pollution. In this journey he was able to radiate his advocacy towards his community and conveyed the essence of marine conservation through recalibrating his own actions and adapting a sustainable lifestyle.
His participation in environmental camps gave leeway for him to implement conservation activities in his community and teach marine conservation to Indigenous youth, youth in coastal communities, and youth in tourism and government sector.
He seeks to continue his dedication to marine conservation through coastal clean-up whenever he goes out for a quick dive and in spite of the pandemic, he realizes that he could continue his advocacy by using social media to promote marine conservation online and embody the KnowMADic identity as it radiates “Knowing that you are Making A Difference” while sailing the seas.
Lela DeVine is a senior at Waiakea High School from Hilo, Hawaii. A lab member at the Daniel K.Inouye College of Pharmacy at the University of Hawaii at Hilo and a NAUI advanced open water SCUBA diver, Lela has first-handedly experienced the changing marine environment and the issues that come with it. She has conducted research for six years through a combination of marine biology and environmental sciences and has recently shifted her course of research to marine pharmacology, where she studies potential marine anticancer-based pharmaceutical compounds.
Her most recent publication, titled “Utilizing HLPC to Analyze the Presence of Anti-cancerous Compounds Residing from the Isolate FM1005 (Xylariasp.) Derived from Sinulariadensa”, places focus on marine sources that specifically have prominent antiproliferative effects against prostate and ovarian cancer cell lines. This research advanced Lela to become a Regeneron ISEF (International Science and Engineering Fair) Finalist. With her newly published research, she is attacking pressing medical issues through conservation, targeting, utilizing, prioritizing, and addressing environmental dangers and stressors within the reef. Her goals to increase youth activism, environmental education, and outreach has stemmed from her time as an EarthEcho Youth Leadership Council Member.
She has received over 30 awards for her research in her time competing in science fairs at the district and state levels from organizations such as NOAA, The Society for In-Vitro Biology, the US Tripler Army Medical Center, the Office for Naval Research, and The Society for the Science and the Public. Lela has extensive experience in public speaking through being a semifinalist and competitor in the Pacific Symposium for Science and Sustainability for the past 3 years, and is part of HOSA Future Health Professionals, ranking top 10 for public speaking in the state where she has brought light upon marine-based environmental issues and the medical field.
Her work in environmental outreach has allowed her to focus on providing a safe space for youth to remain innovative and driven with aspirations in policy, action, and changemaking to reach their collective goals.
Mhairi is a 21 year old from Scotland and is the Founder & CEO of Youth STEM 2030, where her focus is on empowering youth by creating the opportunities, support and platforms needed to use STEM to change the world. Mhairi strongly believes in the power of science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) to solve the big challenges in our world, including those that our oceans currently face.
In 2016, Mhairi completed a Nuffield Research Placement at the University of the West of Scotland, investigating ‘The Impact of Novel Agrochemicals on the Activity of the Marine Intertidal Amphipod Echinogammarus marinus’. The project was awarded the Zoological Society of London’s Prince Philip Award and Marsh Prize and the Senior Science Runner Up Prize at the Big Bang Competition, and was what sparked Mhairi’s continued fascination in marine life, and her particular interest in the ecology of rocky shores.
Since the start of 2020, Mhairi has been participating in the #SOSSaturdays campaign, and has taken over 25,000 (and counting!) pieces of plastic out of the river Clyde in over 40 weekly beach cleans. She is active in promoting youth participation in decision making through her current role as an #iwill Ambassador, where she is Co-chair of the Environment Steering Group, and has previously increased youth involvement in the environmental sector in Scotland as a member of ReRoute: Scotland’s Youth Biodiversity Panel.
Mhairi has an overarching interest in the UN Sustainable Development Goals and in particular the systems thinking approach that is necessary to realise them. She enjoys ‘learning by doing’, and a key personal priority across her work lies in proactively ensuring equity and inclusion.
Our oceans are fundamental to life on Earth, and Mhairi believes that the shared responsibility to protect them has the potential to connect us. As part of the World Ocean Day Youth Advisory Council, she is looking forward to working as part of a global team of youth - who each bring varied skillsets and experiences, but are equally committed and passionate about the marine environment - to be able to effect the systemic change that is needed to protect our oceans.
Muskan Lamba is a 20-year-old final year undergraduate student of Economics and Political Science at Miranda House, University of Delhi. Belonging to humanities and social sciences backgrounds academically, it is only after consistently educating herself on the environment the last two years that she realized that combating climate change and environmental challenges is not a responsibility limited to the sciences, but rather requires a multi-disciplinary approach now more than ever–an understanding she intently imbibes in her work and study.
At college, she has been actively involved with the social entrepreneurship society ‘Enactus’ and served as its Head of Research and Development. The society works towards designing and implementing unique and sustainable business models using innovation and tech, which are aimed at creating opportunities for strengthening and uplifting communities. This experience has taught her that one can’t separate compassion for the environment from compassion for our families and societies.
Along with this, she is the college representative for Project Echo To Voice, an environment sustainability campaign initiated in association with WWF-India. It is centered around SDG 12: Responsible Consumption and Production and has been recognized by various other national and regional youth-led social initiatives. It is while researching for this campaign that she was introduced to the study of sustainable blue economy, an emerging concept that aims to improve human wellbeing while preserving ocean health and significantly reducing environmental risks and ecological scarcities.
Growing up in Delhi, India, a city geographically disconnected from the sea, she has only had rare encounters with the ocean while travelling but has always felt a fond love for it despite. In fact, as a teenager, when she was exploring a new passion for writing, the first ever poem she wrote was about the ocean and it has continued to be a source of creative inspiration for her. She is a firm believer in art as a powerful catalyst for social transformation and loves to pursue filmmaking, music, and fine arts as cocurricular activities.
While being in a rigorous learning and unlearning phase currently, Muskan’s eventual goal is to research about the intersections between environment sustainability and socio-economic justice and involve these in her future work. She derives strong inspiration from Margaret Mead’s words: "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” As a member of the World Ocean Day Youth Advisory Council, she looks forward to connecting with fellow like-minded youth from around the world and learn from their diverse experiences as they create meaningful impact together.
Paul Eweola Ayomide
Paul Eweola Ayomide
Paul Ayomide is a change agent, an Ocean enthusiast and an advocate for a clean ocean and healthy environment. He is currently a final year student at The Federal University of Technology, Akure, Nigeria studying Fisheries and Aquaculture.
Paul Ayomide’s drive to further promote a sustainable planet earth and oceans has led him to founding Aquaworld, an organization devoted to enlightening people on the aesthetic values of the oceans.
Paul Ayomide believes working together yields faster and more productive results and this has propelled him to volunteering with other initiatives and organizations; he is currently serving as a Team Lead and a Regional Supervisor at Future Savers Sustainable Development Initiative, an initiative with the aim to make clear to people climate change impacts and building climate actors, where he supervises events, projects and trains future climate actors.
Paul Ayomide is also currently serving as the Volunteer Manager of U-Recycle Initiative, an initiative on a mission to emphasize a sustainable recycling culture and advance environmental sustainability across Sub-Saharan Africa, where he leads campaigns and coordinates other volunteers during events and projects. He is also one of the Global Youth ambassadors of the Earth-Day Network from Nigeria as a plastic champion.
Paul Ayomide’s involvement in different initiatives/organizations has led him to be involved in events and projects that address environmental problems. He believes the ocean and planet at large can be restored through our concerted effort and unity.
Ruth Edma Mwizeere
Ruth Edma Mwizeere
Ruth Edma Mwizeere is an Environmental Scientist and Activist. She is from Uganda, a landlocked country; however, she is aware of the direct impact of the ocean on her local environment. She is therefore creating awareness on how landlocked countries can contribute to the restoration and protection of the oceans.
She is currently the Programs Officer at InfoNile, a cross-boundary geojournalism project of Water Journalists Africa that promotes investigative science-based environmental journalism in the Nile Basin.
She is a Youth In Landscapes(YiL) Alumnus and in 2018 was recognized as one of the top ten landscape leaders and was part of the Global Landscapes Forum Bonn 2018
She is also a member of Youth Go Green, a Ugandan organization that focuses on environment conservation through tree planting, and climate change mitigation, adaptation by providing critical information, supplying agricultural inputs, lobbying, advocacy & bringing local, national, and global stakeholders together, with the goal of igniting climate action.
Siobhan has been fascinated by the ocean world’s many intricacies for as long as she can remember. Since her days watching Free Willy on repeat, she has been on a journey to inspire and activate change for our oceans – through science, communications, and education.
While studying toward her Bachelor of Science in Marine Biology and Environmental Studies at Victoria University of Wellington, Siobhan fell in love with advocacy and communications for the marine environment. During this time, she studied coral reefs in French Polynesia and was awarded an Ambassadorship with BLAKE and New Zealand’s National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA). This allowed her to board one of the most active research vessels, Tangaroa, and voyage into the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Joining the microbial team, she appropriately sat her final university exams while on the boat and was one of 40 people who didn’t see land for four weeks.
Upon return, she took her sea-legs into New Zealand’s Ministry for the Environment where she went to work in the Chief Executive’s Office and Environmental Reporting team. Here, she helped produce the country’s four-yearly state of the environment marine report which reignited her passion for educating the public on environmental issues and solutions. Supporting crucial communications between the scientists and the public about the state of the environment, Siobhan was confronted with uncomfortable truths that had to be addressed. But how?
Education! Siobhan decided to put her passion to use at an innovative digital education start-up, Squawk Squad. Here, she has co-hosted and managed an education programme taking thousands of school students on a virtual expedition to Antarctica to learn about climate change.
Siobhan credits her hope and optimism for our oceans to the people around her. She is just one of 25 ocean-loving young New Zealanders that make-up ‘Project Blue’. Together, they are making an action-inspiring documentary while working with companies to transition away from single-use plastic. This project has connected ocean leaders throughout New Zealand, and she can’t wait to bring this inspiring team on the World Ocean Day Youth Advisory Council on the journey with her.
Andrea Quintero Pérez
Andrea Quintero Pérez
Ever since she can remember, Andrea has wanted to become a marine biologist. Since she has learned about the anthropogenic threats to the ocean and the environment, she has made it her life's mission to do her best to protect them. At the age of 16 she was chosen as a speaker for a TEDx event in the State of Mexico where she talked about the environmental issues regarding food waste. During this event, she also discussed ways people and governments could tackle food waste in their communities.
Since she started university, she has been involved in educational talks to university, primary, middle and high school students about climate change and the impact of dietary habits on the environment. In May 2019 she registered and organized the first Fridays For Future event in La Paz as part of the Global Climate Strike and has been an active member of the movement ever since.
She is a certified naturalist guide and is currently working for sustainable and minimal impact companies that focus on ecotourism in Baja California Sur. She is 20 years old and invests her time creating awareness about environmental issues, especially those affecting the ocean. Her goal is to create a project which helps fishermen transition to ecotourism. She hopes to make people aware of the current threats to the ocean and show how we can all be involved in supporting sustainable tourism!
Darcie Anderson is a 19 year old student at the Scottish Association for Marine Science, where she is in her second year of her undergraduate marine science degree. Darcie has been a youth leader with AYUDH Europe since 2016, where she organizes social and environmental impact projects with young Europeans. This has involved creating an Ocean Awareness social media campaign, distributing essentials to people experiencing homelessness and hosting regular beach cleans. Darcie has been a speaker at a UNESCO iTAGe (Talking across generations on education) panel, where she discussed education and global citizenship with senior policymakers and was part of a team which drafted a youth declaration on education.
In 2016, Darcie was selected to represent AYUDH Europe at the U.N. forum on human rights, democracy and rule of law, where there was discussion of youth empowerment to solve the worlds issues, an idea she strongly believes in. Growing up in Australia and New Zealand, Darcie always had a strong connection with the ocean and enjoys snorkeling and SCUBA diving. She now lives on the west coast of Scotland, where she has had the opportunity to volunteer with the Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust. On this trip, she was part of a team sailing around the Inner Hebrides to survey cetaceans, seals, seabirds and human activity, as part of an effort to collect data in order to protect Hebridean marine life. She has since been involved in public outreach with the trust, where she has discussed the importance of monitoring cetaceans with members of the public.
The World Ocean Day Youth Advisory Council will help Darcie spread the messages of ocean conservation and low impact living with more young people.
Eimear is a 21-year-old final year Marine Science student, and is starting a Masters in Biodiversity and Conservation September 2021. Through research, experience and her studies, Eimear has become increasingly aware of the harm that has come to our ocean. She is fascinated by the marine world but also devastated by the destruction it currently faces. Her goal in life is to help transform our world into a safe place for all – ethical, equitable and sustainable. As a result, Eimear decided to ensure she used her time as a youth constructively, by volunteering with as many organisations as possible. There are two main areas Eimear focuses her time on: science communication and wildlife conservation.
Eimear believes that if more people understand the issues our global wildlife face, they care more, and hence – want to help more! Prior to the pandemic, Eimear worked as a guide in her university’s zoological museum, educating children – and at times, adults – on wildlife. Eimear is also the Senior Science Communication Editor at a scientific journal called Youth STEM 2030, a platform for youth to share their scientific findings, opinions, and ideas, and based on the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Last autumn, she was part of a team that designed the seminar “Achieving Environmental Change: An AYUDH Panel.” This was an interactive talk between youth and scientific experts, climate change activists, politicians, and more. Eimear also participates in and co-hosts seminars in National Geographic’s #GenGeo Virtual Exchange, through which the interconnectedness of global issues are explored. Most recently, Eimear was invited by WWF-UK to speak in the first-ever youth session at the annual Coastal Futures conference, which was themed on ocean conservation and recovery.
Actual wildlife conservation is exceptionally important to Eimear - this is the area she hopes to specialise in in the future! Next year, she will be participating in a conservation programme in Africa, as part of her postgraduate studies. There, she will aid in the conservation of various animals – such as elephants, lions and more. Currently, Eimear works with Green Sod Ireland - a land trust dedicated to protecting Irish land and preventing biodiversity loss. She was granted funding for an ecological survey, to assess the fitness (or health) of grasslands and woodlands throughout Ireland.
Eimear truly believes that if people rise together, the world can change for the better. Her goals with the World Ocean Day Youth Advisory Council are to learn from others, educate as many people as possible on the wonders that the ocean has to offer, and to help seriously combat the climate and biodiversity crisis.
Nicola Tsiolis is a 17-year-old Cypriot-Australian student with a burning passion for the ocean. Since the age of seven, she has aspired to become a Marine Biologist and work within the ocean; learning, discovering, protecting and conserving the abundant, extraordinary life that lives within the ocean’s depths. After being exposed to and growing up around Australia’s beautiful beaches and surf culture, her holistic passion and love for the ocean runs through her veins. Nicola aims to continue this journey of learning about and understanding environmental conservation through studying marine science at university next year. Her passion and ambition for environmental activism and conservation is the driving force behind her active involvement in all things related to the ocean. She sees the World Ocean Day Youth Advisory Council as an opportunity to learn and grow deeper with a team of like-minded young people and one step into a future that excites her.
As an Ocean Youth Ambassador (Sea Life Trust) 2019, Nicola has created an organization with the agenda to create positive environmental change called Sea Change Network. Her ambitions for Sea Change Network are to not only push for legislative change in Australia but also to provide students across Victoria with the tools and skills needed to create their own student-led social justice and environmental groups. Nicola is also involved with her local community's leadership council (Eltham Youth Leadership Council- Vicky Ward MP), in which herself and other young people aim to bring about positive solutions to eco-anxieties and challenges faced within their local community.
Joana Da Rosa
Joana Da Rosa
Born in Madeira Island and raised in Azores, Joana has a deep connection with the ocean, which led her to become a senior marine biology student at University of Algarve, Portugal, in order to learn and discover more about her biggest passion, ocean life. She started open-sea snorkeling as soon as she learned how to swim and is now a certified diver. Over recent years, Joana has been comparing the amount of fish and species that she comes across while snorkeling and has noticed the drastic loss of biodiversity in he region.
While many different factors may be causing this effect, most of this disappearance may be due to the use of illegal fishing nets. Another problem that concerns her is the amount of litter, mostly plastic, that is found in marine ecosystems. With a great willingness and dedication to make a positive difference and protect the ocean environment from the various problems that disturb its serenity, she’s a member of Straw Patrol, an environmental awareness organization aimed at bringing awareness to the problem of marine litter through beach clean-ups and lectures in primary, elementary and high schools. She hopes that these sessions inspire both children and teenagers to act for a sustainable future.
Maha Fier is a 17-year-old living along the west coast of New Zealand. While growing up near the ocean and coastal waterways, she developed an attachment to these natural wonders and was shocked when at 12 years old, she discovered the amount of threats our oceans are currently facing, including pollution, ocean acidification, exploitation of marine biodiversity through commercialized fishing and more.
A passion for wanting to preserve the environment and oceans led her to create the Societal, Environmental and Animal Rights Action Group (SEAR) within her local college. For four years, she has led this group which focuses on giving students the understanding that people, the environment and animals all intertwined. During her time leading SEAR, she has helped create events to preserve the remaining 63 Maui Dolphins and co-founded the Kāpiti Enviro Youth Summit, which focuses on New Zealand’s waterways and oceans and the threats they face. She is heavily interested in how technology is being developed to help our planet. This has led her to be the project manager for her college’s robotics club, which is currently creating a beach-cleaning robot that can travel along a polluted beach and pick up the rubbish.
As a four-year textile student, she discovered that the fast fashion industry is the second most polluting industry in the world and has detrimental impacts on our oceans. Synthetic fibers such as polyester, acrylic, nylon and more leak microfibers (a form of microplastics) when they are put through the washing machine. This has led to over 5 trillion microfibers ending up in our oceans and becoming the biggest source of microplastic. Maha wishes to see the fashion industry become more sustainable and has helped start a Stop Microfiber Pollution Campaign within SEAR, hoping that as it progresses further, huge fast fashion brands will start addressing the issue themselves.
Natalie Ashkar is a 16-year old ocean-lover from Lebanon, who lives in Broummana, an elevated village 20 minutes away from the Mediterranean Sea. She is currently in 11th grade at Broummana High School, and is on the soccer, basketball, and track teams, as well as the Student Council and the Model United Nations team as a delegate, trainer, and dais member. As a PADI Advanced Open Water SCUBA Diver, Natalie is dedicated to protecting our oceans. She has researched the Ideonella Sakaiensis bacteria and its potential to digest plastic, in addition to modeling how greenhouse gas emissions can be reduced by using electrochromic windows.
As head of the “I Serve” Club at school, she has organized over 6 beach cleanups at Ramlet Al Bayda – Beirut’s most polluted public beach. She notes that the most bizarre finds at these cleanups have been a cooking pot, a computer motherboard, and a toilet seat! Last year, she went on a National Geographic Student Expedition to Costa Rica where she volunteered at Equipo Tora Carey to tag sea turtles (her favorite animal) and log endangered parrots’ migration patterns. For the past 2 years, she has been participating in the Trust for Sustainable Living International Debates in Seychelles and British Columbia, where she has had the chance to debate plans to achieve SDGs 14 and 15 respectively, as well as meet passionate young delegates, leaders of climate strikes, environmental activists, and head of the Canadian Green Party Elizabeth May.
Like Dr. Jane Goodall, Natalie has hope for the future of our planet because of these 5 reasons: technology, the resilience of nature, the power of social media, human intellect, and finally, the youth.
Gabrielle is a 20-year-old aspiring marine scientist from Montreal, Canada. She was first introduced to the ocean through the Class Afloat program, during which she completed her last year of high school while sailing around the Atlantic Ocean onboard a 70-meter-long sailing vessel, accompanied by 54 strangers from the four corners of the globe. While crossing the Atlantic three times and learning how to sail, Gabrielle spent her free time onboard assisting with research on microplastics pollution in collaboration with the 5 Gyres Institute and taking part in dives, snorkels and sampling expeditions. She rapidly became fascinated by marine conservation and biodiversity and is currently a biology undergraduate student at Laval University in Quebec, Canada, where she is pursuing her dream of tackling marine climatic perturbations issues through graduate studies. Gabrielle is heavily involved in marine ecology research and spends her free time both in the lab and in the field, assisting professors and post-doctoral researchers in active climate change research. As part of a scientific diving team, she is happiest underwater.
She has spent a fair amount of time at the Centre de Recherches Insulaires et Observatoire de l’Environnement in Mo’orea, French Polynesia, as part of a team that collects data on coral reefs and the fish that depend on them. The main focus of this project was to use fish gut content metabarcoding to analyze trophic interactions and reconstruct coral reef food webs. Her passion and her dedication to protect our oceans has allowed her to spend a month onboard a research vessel with the Arctic Research Foundation in the Canadian Arctic, one of the regions of the globe that is highly affected by global warming. There, she took part in one of the first projects to study an underwater kelp forest in this region of the world, aiming to understand the global impacts of climate change on these important primary producers and their ecosystem. As a co-captain in the Schulich Leader Network, a network gathering the most promising and entrepreneurial-minded Canadian college students in the fields of STEM, Gabrielle believes that a big part of leadership lies in acting as an example for others. She reiterates that the conservation of our oceans is a subject that concerns every single human on this planet and is dedicated to raising awareness for this global issue!
Born in the city of San Francisco, David grew up surrounded by the natural beauty of the California Coast. He readily developed a love for the natural world by virtue of his childhood experiences, from digging for sand crabs with his brothers on Ocean Beach to witnessing northern elephant seal bulls fighting for mates in the Point Reyes rookery. Throughout middle and high school, David engaged with local scientific and environmental institutions: he eagerly visited the Marine Mammal Center and the Monterey Bay Aquarium and volunteered at the California Academy of Sciences to help re-articulate a juvenile orca skeleton.
Although he always held a fascination with nature, David’s specific passion for the ocean and ocean conservation was ignited his sophomore year of high school when he joined the National Ocean Sciences Bowl Team. Coached by his freshman year biology teacher, the Ocean Bowl Team was a group of students who competed against other high school teams in an annual buzzer-style competition. His team lost every single match the first year, but he loved it so much that he dedicated himself to studying oceanography and marine biology textbooks, leading the team to a second place finish his senior year. Now an undergraduate at Stanford University, David continues his involvement in Ocean Bowl by volunteering as a moderator at the regional competition, encouraging his same passion for ocean issues in the next generation of high school students.
David is majoring in Environmental Systems Engineering with a focus on Coastal Environments and complements these studies with his participation in the Notation in Science Communication program, which culminates in a portfolio of science writing and communication. Beyond scientific writing and research, David has recently begun to apply his skill in visual arts to create scientific illustrations. He’s done this most recently while studying abroad in Australia during the autumn quarter of 2019-2020. In Australia, he performed ecological fieldwork and learned about conservation, studying in sites like the mangrove forests of North Stradbroke Island and the coral reefs surrounding Heron Island in the Great Barrier Reef. As a PADI Open Water certified diver, David was able to observe firsthand the intricate and delicate balance between all the amazing animals living on the reef. Each new interaction with the wonders of our ocean strengthens David’s resolve to do everything possible to preserve these incredible ecosystems, and he is excited to collaborate with other young people from around the world in galvanizing their communities to fight to protect our oceans.
Toluwanimi Olubanke is a remarkable change maker with a unique perspective on solutions to environmental issues. She is currently a third-year student at the University of Ibadan in Nigeria, where she is studying for a bachelor's degree in Human Physiology. She is passionate about social entrepreneurship as a means to societal development. Toluwanimi has devoted her time and resources to various causes, from awareness campaigns to community empowerment programs. She is an active member of ENACTUS in the University of Ibadan, in which she serves as the General Secretary and lends her ideas and energy towards driving positive change in her campus and its neighboring communities. ENACTUS is a student organization aimed at taking entrepreneurial action on social problems and Toluwanimi acts as a catalyst in fulfilling this vision, having served on projects that helped reshape various facets of her community.
Her active involvement in the organization opened her eyes to several social and environmental issues, particularly single-use plastics. Over the past year, she has developed a deep passion for seeing a world free of single-use plastics. This passion led her to starting Thetic, which addresses the problem of plastic waste by recycling single-use plastic waste into low-cost and affordable prosthetic limbs for amputees and individuals with congenital conditions that affect their limbs. Thetic is presently in its research and development phase. Toluwanimi is a 2019 fellow of President Obama's Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) program. Through her involvement with the World Ocean Day Youth Advisory Council, she hopes to inspire the culture of land and marine conservation in more young people in her country and globally. Toluwanimi believes in the energy of change – a phrase that means that change is powered by the willingness to see change and act with bravery.
Lydia is a 19-year-old first-year student enrolled in the marine science undergraduate program at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden. Having grown up in Austria, a landlocked country, visiting the ocean was not an every-day opportunity; however, she found a passion in learning about the world beneath the waves early on, and moved to the west coast of Sweden at the age of 17 to pursue her future in marine science. She inhales any information about ocean creatures she can find and is fascinated by all water dwellers - both plain and extravagant.
In the context of her high school graduation exam, Lydia wrote a paper about the removal of marine plastic debris which won the national sustainability award. After graduation, she began to educate herself more about the climate and biodiversity crisis as well as climate justice and quickly got involved in several climate movements. Today, she is a climate and environmental justice advocate and organizer with Fridays For Future, Friends of the Earth, and Extinction Rebellion Youth Sweden, the latter of which she co-founded. She aims to constantly keep learning and improving her approach to activism, and finds joy and motivation in being able to share her knowledge with others as a climate justice educator.
Lydia strongly believes that the most effective way to tackle the challenges we and our oceans face today is building communities and fostering collective action. That’s why she focuses a lot of her activism on movement building, reaching new people, and creating networks that allow for exchange and cooperation. Her ultimate goal is to ensure resilience and diversity in both ecosystems and communities, as well as connecting more people to the wonders of the ocean and our shared blue home.
Ngolle Kingsman is a student currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Geography at the University of Buea, Cameroon. He is passionate about environmental conservation and agricultural sustainability and aims to achieve these through regenerative, social, cultural and technologically innovative measures. Spending most of his time in the natural world, he observed how the beauty of nature was gradually destroyed by the numerous environmental hazards caused by fellow humans. This ignited a fiery passion in him to take personal action towards saving his environment.
Through networking and active collaboration, Kingsman has been able to educate many young people in his community through educational sessions, workshops, school visits, and other mediums. He has taken part in several projects, campaigns and events that were aimed at contributing to lasting solutions for the environmental challenges plaguing his community. He is currently involved in different community based organizations and international platforms where he is gaining the experience, skills and knowledge to become a better leader and eco-hero. Apart from his environmental work, Kingsman enjoys photography, music, visual arts and drawing and intends to use theses to amplify his efforts.
Ariana Wanvig Dot is an 18-year-old Swiss-Catalan-American student in her last year of the International Baccalaureate (IB) who strives to bring environmental awareness and action to her community.
In 2014, her family took a year-long sabbatical to travel the world during which she learnt from new cultures and celebrated the natural diversity of our planet. The trip fueled Ariana’s interest and enthusiasm for the environment and the oceans. Her experiences included sponsoring a baby orangutan, getting eye-to-eye with whales in Antarctica, guiding newly-born turtles to the sea in Malaysia, and diving through bleached coral reserves in Thailand.
In the summer of 2018, she created “4menorca”, a beach-clean campaign in the biosphere reserve island of Menorca, Spain. Her goal was to raise awareness about pollution and to rid a beach of waste by urging people to “pick up 4 pieces of garbage” (slogan). She coordinated the event with the government of Menorca and was also supported by international sponsors including Surfers Against Sewage and local businesses like Sa Gelateria. “4menorca" was quickly picked up by social media as well as Spanish newspapers and TV channels. Seeing the enthusiasm of the children who participated in her beach-clean cemented her passion for youth-driven activism to make every day world oceans day.
Ariana is the Student Leader of her school’s Environmental Committee and is also the Editor-in-Chief of the student newspaper. She uses these two platforms to motivate her peers to participate in demonstrations for environmental legislative action.
At university, Ariana will continue her environmental efforts by leveraging her academic major, Chemistry, to give back to the oceans that constantly give to us.
- Andrea Quintero Pérez, Mexico
- Darcie Anderson, Scotland
- Eimear Stephenson, Ireland
- Nicola Tsiolis, Australia
- Joana Da Rosa, Portugal
- Maha Fier, New Zealand
- Natalie Ashkar, Lebanon
- Gabrielle Martineau, Canada
- David Ludeke, United States
- Toluwanimi Olubanke, Nigeria
- Lydia Rysavy, Sweden
- Ngolle Kingsman, Cameroon
- Ariana Wanvig-Dot, Switzerland
2019 - 2020
- Aldrin Aujero, Philippines
- Isabelle Grace, Switzerland
- Laura Park, England
- Olivia Livingstone, Liberia
- Mae Paula Ross Clareza, Philippines
- Portsea Turton, Australia
- Rebecca Loy, Singapore
- Shantana Barbe, Seychelles
- Sophie Handford, New Zealand
- Summer Snell, England
- Unelker Maoga, Kenya
- Nicolas Chesta, Chile
- Yusuf Kavuma, Uganda
- Anna Zaske, Denmark
- Anushka Bhaskar, United States
- Cade Terada, United States
- Gabrielle Tan, Malaysia
- Ibrahi Rodriguez, Ecuador
- Kehkashan Basu, Canada
- Olivia Taylor, South Africa
- Patricia Zanella, Brazil
- Rufai Balogun, Nigeria
- Sofia El-Rass, Denmark
- Wenqin Zhang, China
2016 - 2018
- Baylee Ritter, USA
- Brandon Koots, Curacao
- Caitlin Philipps, Australia
- Eugenia Barroca, Portugal
- Gabriella Schauber, Canada
- La Tisha Parkinson, Trinidad & Tobago
- Melati Wijsen, Indonesia
- Mohammed Wahabi, Morocco
- Nehara Pandey, India
- Oghenechovwen Christopher Oghenekevwe, Nigeria
- Sang-Jin Kim, Germany