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Building a Blue Future: Harnessing the Hope of the Ocean

Session Replay



For island communities, the ocean’s resources and opportunities are crucial in battling hunger, unemployment and promoting economic success. Harnessing the Blue Economy offers a unique opportunity for islands to promote economic development while preserving and supporting the health and integrity of the ocean and human well-being.


Senior Manager for Sustainability, Climate Change and Natural Resources, Economist Impact

Martin Koehring

Martin Koehring is senior manager for sustainability, climate change and natural resources at Economist Impact (part of The Economist Group). He leads Economist Impact’s sustainability-related policy and thought leadership projects in the EMEA region. He is also the head of the World Ocean Initiative, inspiring bold thinking, new partnerships and the most effective action to build a sustainable ocean economy. He has led major projects in areas such as food sustainability, sustainable infrastructure and ocean sustainability. Moreover, he is a member of the Advisory Committee for the UN Environment Programme’s Global Environment Outlook for Business and a faculty member in the Food & Sustainability Certificate Program provided by the European Institute for Innovation and Sustainability.

His previous roles at The Economist Group, where he has been since 2011, include managing editor, global health lead and Europe editor at The Economist Intelligence Unit.

He earned a bachelor of economic and social studies in international relations from Aberystwyth University and a master’s degree in international relations from the College of Europe.

In addition to English and his native German, he also speaks Dutch, French and Italian.

Martin has been a Latin dancer since 2014, specialising in salsa and cha cha cha. He has performed with various dance teams (Caramelo, OtraDanz, Pexava) mainly in London and other parts of the UK but also globally (Amsterdam, Antalya, Marrakech, Berlin).

President of the Republic of Palau

His Excellency Surangel S. Whipps Jr.

Surangel S. Whipps Jr. (born 9 August 1968)[2] is a Palauan businessman and politician, who has served as the president of Palau since 2021.[3] He served as senator from 2008 to 2016.[3] He is from Ngatpang state, Republic of Palau.[1] Whipps assumed office as the President of Palau on 21 January 2021.
Director UN Economic Commission for Africa

Jean-Paul Adam

Jean-Paul Adam is the Director for Technology, Climate Change and Natural Resources Management in the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa. Prior to taking on this role, he served in the Government of the Republic of Seychelles in several Cabinet positions. He was Minister of Health from 2016 to 2019. He served as Minister of Finance, Trade and the Blue Economy from 2015 to 2016 where he negotiated a debt for climate change adaptation swap and launched the process for Seychelles to become the first issuer of a Blue Bond. Between 2010 and 2014, he was Seychelles’ Minister of Foreign Affairs, where he advocated for countries to embrace the concept of the Blue Economy, to improve sustainability for island and coastal countries. Before entering the Cabinet, between 2005 and 2009, he occupied several senior roles in the Office of the President of the Republic of Seychelles including Director General for presidential affairs, Principal Secretary for the Office of the President and Secretary of state in the presidency. He started his career as a career diplomat in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs between 2001 and 2004. He is a holder of a Masters in International Political Economy form the University of Manchester (UK) and a BA in English Literature and French from the University of Sheffield (UK).

Program Manager, Ocean Finance Initiative at Asian Development Bank (ADB)

Melissa Walsh

Melissa is an independent consultant working on blue finance with the Asian Development Bank, Micronesia Conservation Trust, and other clients. She co-leads the Ocean Finance Paper for the High-Level Panel on the Sustainable Ocean Economy and leads the Conservation Finance Alliance working group on Coastal and Marine Conservation Finance. She holds a BS in Chemistry and Marine Science (University of Miami), MS in Oceanography (University of Hawaii), and PhD in Marine Conservation Finance (James Cook University).

Professor and Director of Institute of Ocean, Islands and Sustainable Development (IOISD)

Dr. Transform Aqorau

Dr. Transform Aqorau is the former Chief Executive Officer of the Parties to the Nauru Agreement in Majuro, Marshall Islands. He is a board member of the International Seafood Sustainability Foundation (ISSF). Dr. Aqorau previously worked for the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency as Legal Counsel and Deputy Director. He was also Legal Advisor to the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat and Legal Adviser and Deputy Secretary in the Solomon Islands Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Dr. Aqorau has authored various journal, magazine and newspaper articles on regional fisheries and delivered papers and addresses at international seminars and conferences spanning more than 20 years. He holds a Bachelor of Laws from the University of Papua New Guinea, a Masters of Law from the University of British Columbia in Canada and received his Doctor of Philosophy in Law from the University of Wollongong in Australia.

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