Safiya Sawney is currently the Caribbean Policy Lead for Ocean Unite. Most recently she was the Ocean and Climate Policy Advisor to the Mission of the Republic of Palau to the United Nations representing the President of Palau at the High-Level Panel for the Sustainable Ocean Economy and leading Palau’s engagement at the UN Secretary General’s 2019 Climate Action Summit. Safiya was also the project coordinator for the UN Office of Project Services providing strategic support towards the 2020 Our Oceans Conference.
Formerly, Safiya was the lead policy advisor on a Blue Economy partnership platform between the Governments of the Netherlands and Grenada with support from the UN Food and Agriculture Organization. Safiya has fostered many innovative partnerships to spur action on ocean plastics and environmental awareness for small islands states including partnerships with Parley for the Ocean and Adidas, PangeaSeed, UN Environment, United Nations Development Programme, the World Bank, and others.
Safiya has provided policy support to Climate Analytics Inc. on Caribbean climate strategies, was the deputy coordinator for the Caribbean team that executed the 2013 Caribbean Challenge Initiative (CCI) Summit in collaboration with Sir Richard Branson, Virgin Unite and The Nature Conservancy and served as technical advisor to Alliance of Small Island Developing States at the UN.
Jon Bassford, CAE, JD, MBA is an association and nonprofit operations professional. Jon has worked for c3 to c7 organizations across many different roles and responsibilities but has carved out an expertise as an efficient and effective operations professional. Through his consulting firm Lateral Solutions, Jon leads several organizations as a part-time operations director as well as client work in college student/campus outreach, organizational development, innovation, and strategy. Jon has truly carved out an expertise helping organizations launch and run internal operations in an efficient and effective manner using digital tools.
Across his membership and operational roles, Jon has 15 years of experience leading organizations.
Renee brings nearly a decade of internal operations experience to the Ocean Unite team. Prior to joining the team, Renee worked for eight years at The Pew Charitable Trusts where she began as an administrative assistant supporting their Shark, Tuna, and Whale conservation campaigns as well as the Senior Director of International Ocean Conservation. Particularly adept at identifying operational issues and developing methods to solve them, Renee moved into an operations role working across Pew’s international Ocean conservation projects, then all their environment conservation projects, and later the breadth of Pew’s programmatic work. She has degrees from California State University, San Bernardino, and Temple University in Philadelphia, and recently relocated from Washington, DC, to the California coast. As hard as this team works to protect our magnificent Ocean, Renee is the only person on the team who lives at the beach and relishes in enjoying the beauty of the Ocean every day.
One of the principals of Communications Inc., Sophie has nearly 20 years of experience in strategic communications. Comms Inc., is an agency which works with the not for profit sector, with a particular specialism in the ocean and wider environment. They are well known within the international ocean community and enjoy the trust of, and a working relationship with, most of the large international environmental NGOs and coalitions. Recognised for their ability to deliver fast, cost-effective and productive communications and campaigning, they are particularly valued for their strategic contribution based on a sound understanding of the issues, the political landscape within which the issues exist and a creative approach to bringing about change (www.communicationsinc.co.uk).
Nathalie has almost two decades of experience working in environmental advocacy. She worked for over 15 years for Greenpeace International, focusing mainly on biodiversity issues. For many years she worked as Senior Oceans Political Advisor focusing on international ocean governance and marine conservation. More recently she was the deputy director of the Political and Business Unit. She has wide experience of attending and leading delegations at international environmental meetings, including the Convention on Biological Diversity, Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species, and ocean-related negotiations at the UN General Assembly. When asked why she feels strongly about protecting the ocean, she says that not only is it home to the weirdest and most wonderful creatures on the planet, tomorrow’s life-saving drugs could be found at the bottom of the sea, not to mention the discovery of an anti-wrinkle cream that actually works!
Karen has over 25 years of experience working for international non-governmental organisations on environmental issues around the world with a particular focus on protecting marine biodiversity and building resilience to climate change. In 2015, Sack established Ocean Unite, co-founded by Sir Richard Branson and former Costa Rican President José María Figueres, to engage leadership voices and the business community to accelerate ocean health and resilience. Ocean Unite is committed to helping secure the strong protection of 30 per cent of the ocean by 2030. It has also developed a groundbreaking partnership with the insurance sector to address ocean risk.
She was senior director for international oceans at The Pew Charitable Trusts, where she developed their international oceans program including their ending illegal fishing strategy and initiated and was the managing partner of the Global Ocean Commission. Before that she was head of Greenpeace International’s political and business unit and head of their international oceans programme. In 2004, she was the first person from a non-governmental organization to speak at a regular session of the United Nations General Assembly, where she represented the concerns of over 60 environmental organizations from around the world over the plight of our oceans. Karen is a member of the World Economic Forum’s Expert Network. She has master’s degrees in international environmental law and in international political economy.