DURHAM, N.C. – Guillermo Ortuño Crespo, a 2020 doctoral graduate of the Nicholas School of the Environment, has been selected to serve as one of four co-leads for the United Nations’ new Early Career Ocean Professional (ECOP) initiative.

ECOP aims to foster increased engagement with, and leadership opportunities for, young scholars who represent the next generation of marine science and conservation professionals.

It’s being launched as part of the UN’s Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development – a global effort, starting in 2021, to produce the science we need for the oceans we want

“Our initiative, which is still in its early days, is placing particular emphasis on the importance of achieving demographic, gender, racial, professional and generational representativity in all Ocean Decade group activities to ensure that everyone is engaged and has equal opportunities to generate, assimilate and share knowledge,” said Ortuño Crespo, who earned his PhD in Marine Science and Conservation and is now a postdoctoral researcher at the Nicholas School’s Marine Geospatial Ecology Lab.

Asymmetries in access to capacity development opportunities stand in the way of a successful Ocean Decade and will have to be addressed decisively, he said. Strategic institutional partnerships will be fundamental for overcoming these inequities and building ocean capacity.

Duke can play a central role in achieving these goals.

“With our commitment to environmental equity, our global network of influence, and our deep expertise in fields critical to sustainable ocean development, we are well positioned to forge partnerships that support global efforts to surmount these barriers and achieve meaningful progress toward the UN Sustainable Development Goals agenda,” he said.

Ortuño Crespo has been actively involved in developing the ECOP initiative since IOC-UNESCO – the UN agency responsible for implementing the Ocean Decade – held its first Global Planning Meeting 18 months ago in Copenhagen.