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The Role of Oceans In Climate Change and Sea Level Rise

UN Side Event

Join us on Thursday, October 8th for our UN Side Event from 9:30-11:30 EST.

We will hear from an accomplished group of panelists on topics such as carbon absorption, ocean acidification, sea-level rise, marine and plastic pollution, among others.


  1. Roma Stibravy

  2. Craig Irwin

  3. Susan Mwangi 

  4. H.E. Duarte Lopes

  5. Satya Rodrigo

  6. Peter Thomson

Learn more about the panelists below:


  1. Valentina Germani

  2. Markus Pohlmann

  3. Nilufer Oral

  4. Paul Holthus

  5. Drew Stephens

  6. Rob Campbell

  7. William Burns

  8. Bruce Monger



Roma Stibravy

 President of NGO Sustainability 

NGO Sustainability President, Roma Stibravy, created the nonprofit organization in 2007 to continue her dedication to the promotion of sustainable development/renewable energy for awareness-raising and advocacy. Roma Stibravy has been working on economic development since her graduate school days, while also working at the Permanent Indonesian Mission to the United Nations. While living in Vienna, Austria, in the 70s, she created the International Committee for Social Welfare, Austria. Among the many socially-oriented activities were fundraising events with the leading musical, theatrical, and fashion institutions to raise funds for both local activities and for economic development programs in Africa. She was then employed by the international headquarters of Save the Children in Geneva, Switzerland, doing tree planting projects in Africa. In the early 90s, Roma started in Sustainable Development as the next step in her career as a UN representative for Solar Cooker International, trying to divert wood and charcoal-burning to solar for cooking in the developing world. Ms. Stibravy worked in many parts of the United Nations in research, writing, and creating programs. Roma also helped represent the International Chamber of Commerce. 

Roma earned a bachelor’s degree in Political Science at Syracuse University and a master’s degree in United Nations Affairs at New York University. She presently resides in Norwalk, Connecticut. Roma represents Norwalk, CT on “Sustainable Fairfield County.”


Craig Irwin

 Managing Director, Senior Research Analyst, ROTH

Craig Irwin is a Managing Director, Senior Research Analyst leading ROTH’s Cleantech coverage in biofuels, advanced lighting, and the companies providing products and services that enable the Utility of The Future, including batteries and electric vehicles. Prior to joining ROTH Capital Partners, Mr. Irwin covered Cleantech companies at Wedbush, Merriman Curhan Ford, and First Albany, where his equity research experience in the sector reaches back to 2001. Mr. Irwin has also served as a Director of corporate strategy for a public energy storage company, where he completed the acquisition of leading energy storage and technology companies.


Mr. Irwin has a BS from the University of Rochester.


Susan Mwangi

Charge d'Affaires, Kenya

Susan Mwangi is a Minister Counselor and the Acting Deputy Permanent Representative of the Mission of Kenya to the United Nations. She has
been in Public Service-since 2010 having served as an adviser to the Committee of Experts on the review of the Constitution of Kenya in 2010.

She was later appointed as a Member of the Standards Tribunal a quasi-judicial body that arbitrates disputes that arise between businesses and The Kenya Bureau of Standards.

She joined the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 2013 as an adviser and Personal Assistant to the Cabinet Secretary for Foreign Affairs and International Relations.

She holds a Bachelor of Laws (LLB) from the University of Nairobi and a Master of Laws (LLM) in Public International Law from the London School of Economics. Ms. Mwangi is also a Member of the Chartered Institute of Arbitration (MCIArb).



Duarte Lopes

H.E., Portugal

Since 2017, Francisco Antonio Duarte Lopes has been the Permanent Representative of Portugal to the United Nations. 

 Prior to this post, Mr. Duarte Lopes served at Portugal’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Lisbon, where he was promoted to the rank of Ambassador in December 2015. He had previously assumed the rank of Political Director in July 2014. He was Director-General for European Affairs from January 2012 and Chief of Staff to the Secretary of State for European Affairs from June 2011 to January 2012. From October 2009 until June 2011, he was the diplomatic advisor to the Prime Minister. 

 From August 2005 to September 2009, Mr. Duarte Lopes was the coordinator at Portugal’s Permanent Representation to the European Union, where he was previously Counsellor in charge of Institutional Affairs. From 2003 to 2004, he was Director for Institutional Affairs at the Foreign Ministry. Prior to that, he served as an adviser to the Secretary of State for European Union Affairs from 2002 to 2003. 

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Satya Rodrigo

Charge d'Affaires, Sri Lanka

Satya Rodrigo is the Deputy Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka to the United Nations in New York. He is a member of the Sri Lanka Foreign Service with a career of 22 years.

He has previously served at the Sri Lanka Permanent Mission in Vienna, Austria, and at the Sri Lanka High Commission in Pretoria, South Africa.  At the Foreign Ministry, he has worked at the United Nations & Multilateral Affairs, Public Communications & Overseas Sri Lankans, and South Asia Divisions.


Peter Thomson

Fijian diplomat to the United Nations Secretary-Generals Special Envoy for the Ocean

Peter Thomson is a Fijian diplomat and the United Nations Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for the Ocean, in which he led UN advocacy and outreach efforts to galvanize political momentum, mobilize action, and raise ambition for the implementation of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal 14. 

In January 2014, Mr. Thomson was elected to the Presidency of the Executive Board of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDO), United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), and the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS). In his capacity as Fiji’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations from February 2010 to August 2017, he undertook the UNDP Presidency role, with Executive Board oversight responsibilities for over USD $7 billion of UN annual funding. 

On 13 June 2016, Mr. Thomson was elected as the 71st President of the United Nations General Assembly. He thereby became the first person from the Pacific Islands region to fill the top post of the United Nations, serving in that capacity from September 2016 to September 2017. In support of the implementation of SDG 14, President Thomson organized the first UN Ocean Conference. Held at the UN campus in June 2017, it was co-hosted by Fiji and Sweden and is widely regarded as the turning point in global action to reverse the decline in the Ocean’s health. 


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Valentina Germani

Senior Legal Officer, Division for Ocean Affairs

Valentina Germani is a Senior Legal Officer (Programme Advisor) in the Division for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea, Office of Legal Affairs of the United Nations, in New York. Her current work in oceans and the law of the sea focuses mostly on capacity-building, in particular as Programme Advisor of the United Nations – Nippon Foundation Programmes, ocean and climate change, as well as providing support to the Intergovernmental Conference on marine biodiversity beyond national jurisdiction. From 2010 to 2012, Valentina was a Legal Officer at the Secretariat of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, in Bonn, Germany, where she worked on the compliance mechanisms under the Kyoto Protocol and the multilateral negotiations eventually leading  to the adoption of the Paris Agreement.  Prior to joining the United Nations in 2001, she was assistant lecturer in International Law of the Sea and International Environmental Law at Queen Mary University of London and University College of London.

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Markus Pohlmann

Senior Counsel at LEGEN, World Bank

Markus Pohlmann, Senior Counsel (Climate Finance) in the Environmental & International Law (LEGEN) unit of the World Bank’s Legal Vice Presidency, has been working on sustainable development and climate change policy, finance and legal issues for more than 20 years academically and professionally. He has a phD in carbon finance and a master degree in International Environmental and Business Law from the Washington College of Law (American University) in DC. Before working at the World Bank, Markus worked at an international law firm (Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer) in Berlin (Real Estate, Infrastructure Finance & PPPs) and at the German Development Bank (KfW) in Frankfurt. In his current work, he focuses on climate change policy, carbon markets and global partnerships to address climate change in terms of mitigation and adaptation, in particular on results-based payment mechanisms to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD+) as well as other climate-smart landscape approaches.

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Nilüfer Oral

Director of the Centre of International Law at NUS

Nilüfer Oral is Director of the Centre of International Law (CIL) at the National University of Singapore and is a member of the law faculty at Istanbul Bilgi University, Turkey. She is a member of the UN International Law Commission and co-chair of the study group on sea-level rise in relation to international law. She was a legal advisor to the Turkish Foreign Ministry on matters related to the law of the sea and served as a climate change negotiator for the Ministry (2009 – 2016).  She has also appeared before the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea.  Nilufer Oral is a Distinguished Fellow of the Law of the Sea Institute at Berkeley Law (University of California Law Berkeley); Senior Fellow of the National University of Singapore Law School; and Honorary Research Fellow at the University of Dundee. Dr. Oral was elected to the Council of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) (2012-2016) and was elected as Chair of the IUCN Academy of Environmental Law (2014-2017). She is a member of the Group of Experts for the Global Pact for the Environment. She is also a member of the American Society of International Law, European Society of International Law, International Law Association (Singapore), and the Asian International Law Society.

 Dr. Oral is the series editor for the International Straits of the World publications (Brill); member of the Board of Editors of the European Society of International Law Series;  Board of Editors of the International Journal of Marine and Coastal Law; Associate Editor of the Research Perspectives in the Law of the Sea (Brill); and International Advisory Board, Chinese Journal of Environmental Law (Brill) She has published numerous articles edited several books and has spoken at many international conferences.

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Paul Holthus

Founder of the World Ocean Council

Paul Holthus founded the World Ocean Council (WOC) – the Global Blue Economy Business and Investment Organization – the international business leadership alliance on ocean sustainable development, science and stewardship. The WOC brings together investment, shipping, fisheries, aquaculture, tourism, oil/gas, offshore renewables, mining, submarine cables, ports, and other sectors for global business community leadership, collaboration, and action.

The WOC Ocean Investment Platform is the global structure/process linking investors, ocean industries, and innovators. The annual WOC Sustainable Ocean Summit is the premier high-level global ocean business and investment event on “Corporate Ocean Responsibility”.

Paul has held senior positions with UN Environment and other international organizations. He has worked in 30+ countries, with companies, communities, industry associations, UN agencies, NGOs, and governments on practical ocean sustainability solutions.

Paul has advanced degrees in marine resources and international business, was a Fulbright scholar in Australia and is an East-West Center alum. 

Paul is a regular speaker at international business, investment, and intergovernmental events was invited to be on the UN Secretary General’s ocean advisory panel for Rio+20 and is the only global ocean industry organization representative invited to address the UN General Assembly.


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Drew Stephens

Geospatial Industry Specialist

Working in the Geospatial Industry since 1991, primarily in natural resource applications of Esri’s ArcGIS products. Over the last decade, focused on ocean conservation and maritime geospatial applications. Significant experience in start-up services and database design, as well as training and consulting services. Authored or co-authored many instructor-led GIS training courses.

Professional industry experience has progressed from software manufacturing companies (Intergraph, Huntsville, AL and Esri, Boulder, CO) to the creation of an independent consulting and training firm (AllPoints GIS, Denver, CO), and on to the founding of the conservation GIS non-profit, The GIS Institute (now Puente Institute), Asheville, NC. In various roles, Stephens has supported a wide range of GIS projects and programs in the natural resources sector, maintaining leadership in corporate structure, finance, personnel, and operations.

Stephens returned to Esri in 2012 to serve as Industry Manager for Ocean and Coastal Environments, expanding to Science and Research Manager on the Education Outreach team. There, he leveraged his experience and passion for ocean science and conservation to support the successful application and use of GIS in quantifying and planning for coastal community resilience, research and exploration, aquaculture and fisheries, and marine spatial planning.

Now with CPC, Inc., Stephens leads the integration and deployment of new geospatial technologies for ocean science, including drone data collection, with tools in the ArcGIS family of products to better understand and manage our ocean assets. Stephens’ thought leadership raises awareness of access to modeled and multi-dimensional ocean data, for which Esri has recently developed tools to visualize and unlock. With CPC, he brings together the data, tools, and people for lasting value in ocean GIS.

Specialties: Ocean, coastal, and maritime geospatial application support. Coastal community resilience technology, GIS training, and database design, remote and field data collection, maritime, and conservation applications of GIS. 

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Rob Campbell

Chief Commerical Officer at Ballard Power System

Rob Campbell was appointed Chief Commercial Officer at Ballard Power Systems in May 2017. Mr. Campbell’s responsibilities include global business development, sales, marketing, product line management, and after-sales service activities.

Rob has considerable experience in global business development for technology-based products in China, Japan, India, Europe, and the United States. He has deep knowledge of high-growth markets and engineering-based capital equipment sales to sophisticated customers.

Mr. Campbell was most recently President and CEO of SoloPower Systems Inc. Prior to SoloPower, his career included: SVP of Business Development at Energy Conversion Devices and Solar Integrated Technologies in the US., EVP of Sales and Marketing at Hydrogenics in Ontario, Canada, and senior leadership roles at several construction and power generation companies in Ontario, Canada.

Mr. Campbell earned a Bachelor of Science degree in engineering at Queen’s University and an MBA in Finance and Marketing at York University’s Schulich School of Business. He is a licensed Professional Engineer with the Professional Engineers Association of Ontario.

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Dr. Will Burns

Professor of Research and Founding American Univeristy

Dr. Will Burns is a Professor of Research and Founding Co-Executive Director of the Institue for Carbon Removal Law & Policy at American University in Washington, DC. Prior to this, he served as the Founding Co-Executive Director of the Forum for Climate Engineering Assessment at American University, Director of the Energy Policy & Climate program at Johns Hopkins University, and Assistant Secretary of State for Policy for the state of Wisconsin. 

He also serves as the Co-Chair of the International Environmental Law Section of the American Branch of the International Law Association. Previously, he served as President of the Association of Environmental Studies & Sciences and was the 2019 recipient of the organization’s Lifetime Achievement Award for Scholarship and Service in the field. His research agenda includes climate geoengineering, climate loss and damage, and the effectiveness of the European Union’s Emissions Trading System. He received his Ph.D. in International Law from the University of Wales-Cardiff School of Law and is the author of more than 80 publications.

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Dr. Bruce Monger

PhD in Oceanography

Dr. Bruce Monger received a PhD in Oceanography from the University of Hawaii in 1993. He served as a Postdoctoral Fellow at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center before joining the Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at Cornell University in 1997 as a Senior Researcher and Senior Lecturer.  Bruce’s research centers on the use of orbiting satellites to study how natural variability in ocean dynamics impacts marine ecosystems at the ocean basin and global scales.  He teaches an introductory oceanography course at Cornell that has grown to become the most popular course at Cornell with an enrollment of over 1,100 students.  A major theme of the oceanography class centers on climate change impacts and the need for bottom-up citizen activism to force leaders to enact policies that will decarbonize the global energy system by midcentury.  His popular course was featured as part of a New York Times article on 10 interesting college courses in the United States

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