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Government of Canada partners with Ocean Wise to amplify the voice of young professionals at IMPAC5 

VANCOUVER, BC, Jan. 16, 2023 /CNW/ – Young people from all nations and backgrounds play important leadership roles in marine protected areas and ocean conservation. From the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) World Conservation Congress in Marseilles to the more recent United Nations Biodiversity Conference (COP15) in Montreal, young professionals are leaning into the conversation and taking action to protect the world ocean.

At the Fifth International Marine Protected Areas Congress (IMPAC5), young people will make up approximately one third of all participants. Their perspectives will help shape the thematic discussions that will take place at the Congress in Vancouver from 3-9 February 2023.

Today, the Honourable Joyce Murray, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard has announced a new partnership with Ocean Wise and over $430,000 in funding to help amplify the voices of young professionals at IMPAC5.

Through this partnership, Ocean Wise is working closely with the IMPAC5 Young Professional Committee to deliver the Coastal Connections Program—a series of virtual and in-person knowledge sharing, mentoring and networking opportunities before and during IMPAC5 for Indigenous, non-Indigenous Canadian, and international young people preparing for, or in the early stages of, careers as ocean professionals.

A major cross-cutting thematic stream of IMPAC5 is the Voice of Young Professionals. Thanks to this partnership with Ocean Wise, youth voices will be connected and empowered at IMPAC5. Participants 18 – 35 will participate and contribute to discussions and outcomes at the Congress in Vancouver. They will join ocean conservation professionals, leaders and decision-makers to learn, share and chart a course towards protecting 30% of the global ocean by 2030.

IMPAC5 will be jointly hosted by the Host First Nations—xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam Indian Band), Sḵwxwú7mesh (Squamish Nation), and s ̱ əlilwətaɬ (Tsleil-waututh Nation)—together with the Government of Canada, the Province of British Columbia, the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS) and the IUCN.


“From Marseilles to Mexico City, Suva to St. John’s, young ocean professionals are calling for increased funding for biodiversity, pushing for innovation in the blue economy and advocating for community involvement in all aspects of managing Marine Protected Areas. In the last year alone, we’ve witnessed the power of youth voices at international environmental conferences in Lisbon, Marseilles and Montreal. Thanks to this partnership with Ocean Wise, youth from around the world will gather at IMPAC5 to share knowledge and advise leaders on how to create a sustainable, blue future.”

The Honourable Joyce Murray, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard

“We know that youth are not only the leaders of tomorrow but are leading the charge today to save our ocean and our planet. The Coastal Connections program led by Ocean Wise will bring 100 young professionals together from Canada and around the world to amplify youth voices at IMPAC5 to inform, inspire and act on marine protected areas. We are thrilled that the Honourable Minister Joyce Murray, Minister for Fisheries and Oceans Canada, has joined us in announcing this exciting partnership that will place young ocean changemakers at the centre of this global congress to protect blue nature.”

Lasse Gustavsson, CEO and President of Ocean Wise

“Our livelihoods and well-being – our oceans are under threat. We are all dependent on healthy oceans to survive and thrive. As global citizens, we must come together, nation-to-nation and generation-to-generation, to protect the ocean at gatherings such as IMPAC5. A part of this is building relations and sharing knowledge between and within generations. As older generations move on and their wisdom with them, younger generations are losing out on valuable knowledge whilst inheriting a world of unprecedented environmental, social, and economical challenges. Intergenerational solidarity is a necessity.”

Magena Warrior, member, IMPAC5 Young Professionals Committee

Back row, left to right: Will Crolla, Minister Joyce Murray, Sabine Jessen, Magena Warrior, Lasse Gustavsson, Sebastian Velasquez , Sarah Gutzmann, Bodhi Patil. Front row, left to right: Yoko Lu, Jeanine Sinclair, Sofio Fotskherashvili, Kara Guloein

Quick Facts

  • International Marine Protected Area Congresses (IMPACs) are a collaborative effort between the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and the chosen host country. Canada was awarded the honour of hosting IMPAC5 during the closing ceremonies of IMPAC4 in La Serena-Coquimbo, Chile, in 2017.
  • IMPAC5 will be a hybrid event offering in-person and virtual programming. The Congress will span seven days, culminating in a Leadership Forum on February 9, 2023.
  • IMPAC5 will be informed by five themes and three cross-cutting streams: Indigenous Peoples Leadership, The Voice of Young Professionals, and Innovation and Transformational Change.
  • As of January 6, 2023, more than 600 people aged 18-35 from 83 countries have registered to attend IMPAC5.
  • The IMPAC5 program will feature 236 presentations related to the IMPAC5 cross-cutting stream “The Voices of Young Professionals”.
  • Funding for the integration of Young Professionals at IMPAC5 was provided by Fisheries and Oceans Canada through the Oceans Management Contribution Program.
  • The IMPAC5 Young Professionals Committee is comprised of 15 exceptional young professionals from around the world. This group is joining the leadership of IMPAC5 to:
    • Ensure that all aspects of IMPAC5 incorporate youth perspectives;
    • Help shape and participate in the Congress program; and,
    • Build the legacy of the Congress by engaging young people beyond IMPAC5.

Associated Links

IMPAC5 Young Professionals Committee

The IMPAC5 Young Professionals Committee is comprised of 15 exceptional young professionals from around the world. This dynamic  group was chosen through a worldwide competitive selection process. They bring leadership experience, passion for ocean conservation, expertise in marine protection and a desire to help  change the world for the better.

Since August 2021, the Young Professionals Committee has met regularly to advise IMPAC5 leadership to:

  • Ensure that all aspects of IMPAC5 incorporate youth perspectives
  • Help shape and participate in the Congress program
  • Build the legacy of the Congress by engaging young people beyond IMPAC5

Seven of the 15 Young Professionals Committee members are from Canada, including five Indigenous members from across the country. The remaining eight members come from Africa, Asia-Pacific, Europe, and North and South America. Between committee members, they speak eight languages.

In November 2022, Ocean Wise and IMPAC5 opened a call for applications to form a cohort of  global youth, including Indigenous young people, to participate in the Coastal Connections program. The Coastal Connections youth enrichment program features three connections for 100 youth around the world focused on congress networking and intergenerational knowledge exchange including:

  • Connection #1: A series of three virtual sessions leading up to IMPAC5 that will introduce participants to their peers and provide an overview of IMPAC5’s history, goals and agenda.
  • Connection #2: A two-day, in-person, team-building and networking event to be held 31 January – 1 February at Camp Elphinstone near Gibsons, B.C.
  • Connection #3: An intergenerational knowledge exchange/mentoring program during IMPAC5 that includes a networking breakfast and an evening event.

Ocean Wise received $430,000 in funding from Fisheries and Oceans Canada to coordinate the important Coastal Connections youth enrichment program. These activities will ensure the Voices of Young Professionals are included and amplified through the global seven day event.

Posted January 16, 2023 by Nic Schulz

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