Satellite Event at UN Ocean Decade Conference, Barcelona

Satellite Event at UN Ocean Decade Conference, Barcelona

10 April 2024, 1:15pm to 2:45pm CEST

Meeting room: 124-125 – Caribbean Ocean – P1 floor

How will Ocean Decade biological observation programmes address the Vision 2030 recommendations for Challenge 2 “Protect and restore ecosystems and biodiversity”?

This workshop will bring together the communities contributing to UN Ocean Decade Challenge 2 “Protect and restore marine ecosystems and biodiversity”. It aims to foster a dialogue between representatives of policy, industry, academia, and conservation, to explore recommendations of the Challenge 2 White paper, supporting common solutions for collective impact. The event will consist of two Panels: the first one will focus on policy and partnerships, with representatives from industry, academia, and the UN, discussing solutions for ecosystem and biodiversity conservation/restoration; the second one will enable a dialogue among representatives of Ocean Decade programmes and projects on the science and observations that will deliver on Challenge 2. The event is a collaboration between the Ocean Biomolecular Observing Network (OBON) and Marine Life 2030 (ML2030), led by the Partnership for Observation of the Global Ocean (POGO).

Conference satellite events page:


13:15 Welcome and Introduction 

13:20 Presentation of Challenge 2 White Paper:

Frank  Muller-Karger/Aileen Tan Shau Hwai

13:30 Panel 1: Science-Policy-Industry partnerships to protect and restore ecosystems and biodiversity


  • Vidar Helgesen (IOC-UNESCO)
  • Pooja Mahapatra (Fugro)
  • Vanessa Yepes (INVEMAR)
  • Rachel Golden-Kroner (WWF)

14:05 Panel 2: Ocean Decade Programmes providing observations in support of Challenge 2


  • Isa Elegbede (Deep Ocean Observing Strategy/Challenger 150)
  • Margaret Leinen (Ocean Biomolecular Observing Network)
  • Frank Muller-Karger (Marine Life 2030)
  • Raymundo Santisteban (Ocean World of Sound: Mesoamerican Reef)

14:35: Wrap-up and closing remarks

Panellist Biographies

Vidar Helgesen (IOC/UNESCO)

Vidar Helgesen is Executive Secretary of the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC/UNESCO) and Assistant Director-General of UNESCO. He initiated and led the work of the High-Level Panel for a Sustainable Ocean Economy 2017-2020 as Norway’s Special Representative for the Ocean, and was Co-Chair of the Advisory Board of the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development. An international lawyer by training, Mr Helgesen has served as Norway’s Minister for Climate and the Environment, Minister for European Affairs, Chief of Staff to the Prime Minister and Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs. He also served as Secretary-General of the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA). Prior to taking up the role at IOC/UNESCO, he was Executive Director of the Nobel Foundation in Sweden.

Pooja Mahapatra (Fugro)

Dr. Pooja Mahapatra is an experienced geospatial expert with a passion for using technology to address climate and biodiversity challenges. She is Fugro’s Principal Advisor for Climate and Nature, currently focusing on coastal resilience, nature-based solutions and blue carbon. She holds a PhD in satellite earth observation, and has worked within diverse organisations – research institute, space agency, start-up and large multinational companies – prior to joining Fugro. She is board member of the World Geospatial Industry Council and the graduate geospatial educational programme at the University of Twente, and a member of various advisory groups in the climate & nature domain

Vanessa Yepes (INVEMAR)

Vanessa Yepes Narvaez, PhD. Leader of biomolecular projects at INVEMAR and Coordinator of the eDNA Monitoring network in LatinAmerica and the Caribbean, sponsored by POGO and the Colombian Government.

Vanessa has over 13 years of experience working for INVEMAR mainly coordinating marine baseline studies in both Caribbean and Pacific of Colombia in partnership with the environmental ministry and local NGOs. She has experience in taxonomy and systematics of marine invertebrates and is currently the coordinator of the first Mobile eDNA laboratory of Colombia and the cryopreserved tissue collections curator of the Marine Natural History Museum of Colombia at INVEMAR in Santa Marta.

Rachel Golden-Kroner (WWF)

Dr. Rachel Golden Kroner is an interdisciplinary conservation scientist with science, policy, and practice experience in marine, terrestrial, and freshwater ecosystems and across natural and social science disciplines. In her role at WWF-US, Rachel provides thought leadership to inform the emerging concept of Nature Positive, especially in its application to the ocean. This includes efforts to develop evidence-based frameworks for businesses and engage with seascapes – integrated place-based approaches for durable, equitable, and effective ocean conservation. Rachel has published in leading scientific journals including Science and PNAS, and is an avid communicator, with earned media coverage in outlets including The New York Times, The Guardian, and Rolling Stone.

Prior to joining WWF-US, Rachel completed a AAAS Science and Technology Policy Fellowship at the US Agency for International Development (USAID). Her research has included a focus on examining legal rollbacks to protected areas with Conservation International and seafood fraud and mislabeling with Oceana. Rachel also recently co-led a World Commission on Protected Areas Task Force examining the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on conservation efforts.

Dr. Golden Kroner holds a BA in Biology from Boston University, an MS in Sustainable Development and Conservation Biology from the University of Maryland College Park, and a PhD in Environmental Science and Policy from George Mason University, where she was advised by the late Tom Lovejoy. She is currently a Fellow with the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) Transformative Change Assessment, and an active member of the World Commission on Protected Areas and Society for Conservation Biology.

Isa Elegbede (Deep Ocean Observing Strategy/Challenger 150)

Dr. Isa Olalekan Elegbede specializes in the sustainability of ocean and coastal resources. He is an adjunct professor at the Department of Environmental Sciences, the National Open University of Nigeria, and a full-time academic at the fisheries department, Lagos State University, Lagos, Nigeria. Before now, He lectured on marine sustainability at the Brandenburg University of Technology (BTU), Germany. He is also a co-chair of the GEO BON Blue Planet fisheries working group, Deputy chair of the IUCN/CEESP/TGER, Switzerland, and a Future Earth Coast (FEC) Fellow. He is also a Central and South Atlantic Regional Scientific Research Working Group member, coordinating regional deep-sea research. Also, a member of the fisheries – DOSI – Deep Ocean Stewardship Initiative.

He was the head of research, innovations, and development at SaeioGlobal (SGL), where he managed and implemented various projects from NSF, USA, the European Union, and GIZ, Germany. He has a wealth of interdisciplinary background and experiences in data innovations and management, data inclusivity, citizen science, and open science. Several awards and grants have been awarded to his credit. He has several publications in high-impact journals and is a reviewer for journals in Scopus and Web of Science journals. Isa has participated, contributed, and volunteered in several international capacities and collaborative initiatives in many SDGs across the globe.

Margaret Leinen (Ocean Biomolecular Observing Network)

Prof. Margaret Leinen is the Director of Scripps Institution of Oceanography and Vice Chancellor for Marine Science of University of California at San Diego. She is an ocean biogeochemist and paleoceanographer whose research includes study of ocean carbon cycling and the role of the oceans in climate. She was a US Dept of State Science Envoy for the Ocean and served as the Co-chair of the Decade Advisory Board for the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development. She is the Chair of the Science Advisory Board of the Ocean Biomolecular Observing network, an endorsed programme of the UN Ocean Decade. She has served as the President of the American Geophysical Union and The Oceanography Society.

Frank Muller-Karger (Marine Life 2030)

Frank Muller-Karger is a Professor in the College of Marine Science, University of South Florida. He studies coastal and marine ecosystems including water quality, biological production, biodiversity, climate change, and human activities. He uses remote sensing and traditional fieldwork to measure how marine life is changing. Frank serves as co-lead of the Marine Biodiversity Observation Network (MBON), the Marine Life 2030 program endorsed by the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development, and the NOAA Climate Program Office/Sanctuaries Climate Indicator Task Force. He also is a member of the IOC-UNESCO GOOS Biology and Ecosystems Expert Panel and member of the Steering Committee of the GOOS/IODE Ocean Best Practices System. For fun, Frank likes to be out on the water on a boat and to paint landscapes using watercolors.

Raymundo Santisteban (Ocean World of Sound: Mesoamerican Reef)

Ray Santisteban is a Mexican visual storyteller and underwater researcher. In 2013, he founded The Stills, a content agency that enabled collaborations with national and international brands. Drawn to documenting art and creative processes, he began working with artists. This interest led to the co-founding of Proyecto Panorama, a social initiative resulting in over 130 murals in the Cancun area by more than 150 artists globally. A Certified Divemaster and Freediver, Ray has coordinated the Ocean World of Sound (WOS) since 2020—the first Passive Acoustic Monitoring Program in the Mesoamerican Reef. Through WOS, he seeks to deepen understanding of the reef and promote community-led conservation.

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