Biography

Dan Laffoley

Dan is a well respected leading global expert on ocean conservation. At IUCN he is Principal Advisor, Marine Science and Conservation for the Global Marine and Polar Programme, and has the global honorary role as Marine Vice Chair for the World Commission on Protected Areas. Through his work Dan provides knowledge, innovation and leadership on consolidating action for the ocean and devising new ways for delivering marine conservation which lever greater action and attention for our seas.

His proven track record involves working with leading scientists to create initiatives that bring new knowledge into policy on issues such as coastal carbon sinks, climate change and ocean acidification. He has a broad knowledge of marine science matters across multiple disciplines and a track record of working with industry, especially with the energy sector. He has a place on the Boards and Councils of many UK leading marine science organisations. Between 2009 and 2014 Dan was an independent advisors to the UK’s top-level Marine Science Coordination Committee, where he led on improving communication of marine sciences and how UK marine science is showcased on the international stage. He has a keen interest in how information technology can help protect the ocean and recently helped deliver Google Ocean, showing the public for the first time how the ocean is protected, benefitting in excess of 1 billion people a with a new perspective on the seas. He recently spearheaded the development of Smartphone Apps for MPAs including the 2012 launch of the first Marine World Heritage App with UNESCO, and the 2013 launch of the Sargasso Sea App. He undertakes extensive international conservation, education and outreach work and currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Sylvia Earle Alliance/Mission Blue, and in 2014 was appointed as Co-Chair of the Executive Board. In 2013 Dan was appointed to the Council of Advisors to the Ocean Elders who include Her Majesty Queen Noor, HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco, Sir Richard Branson, Ted Turner, Sylvia Earle, James Cameron and other ocean world leaders. He is also credited with formative discussions which have led to partnerships by IUCN with Google, Americas Cup, and Underwater Earth.  In 2014 Dan was appointed to the Scientific Board of the Wendy Schmidt Ocean Health X PRIZE – a $2 Million competition to inspire innovation of accurate, durable, and affordable pH sensors that will profoundly improve our understanding of ocean acidification. In 2014 Dan was also appointed to the Board of Directors of the Sargasso Sea Project, Inc. In 2015 Dan was elected an Fellow International of The Explorer’s Club – the world renown USA-based organisation which over the past 111 years has been dedicated to the advancement of field research, scientific exploration, resource conservation, and the idea that it is vital to preserve the instinct to explore.

For over 25 years Dan has been responsible for the creation of many key national, European and global partnerships and alliances that underpin modern-day marine conservation. He served as chief scientific advisor for the marine environment in Natural England, for over a decade headed-up the marine conservation programme for English Nature, and has also worked in a variety of other roles including special marine environmental advisor for the Prime Minister Tony Blair’s Strategy Unit, and for the European Commission. He currently chairs the International Ocean Acidification reference User Group spearheading efforts to address this major global problem, and in 2011 he convened leading experts to form the High Seas Alliance and developed new perspectives on synergistic effects of impacts we are having on the global ocean, to world-wide press coverage. He is Patron of the HMS Beagle Trust, dedicated to building a modern ocean-going version of the ship that Darwin travelled on, through a UK/Chilean partnership to inspire a new generation to explore, discover and safeguard the ocean.

In the World Commission Dan was elected as a Vice Chair in 2006. WCPA is one of the six voluntary IUCN Commissions and with over 1,200 members in 140 countries it is administered by the Protected Areas Programme at the IUCN Headquarters in Gland, Switzerland. He is currently taking WCPA through a major strategic review to radically develop the role and focus of the marine work through the development and implementation of the WCPA – Marine Global Plan of Action. The WCPA mission is to promote the establishment and effective management of a worldwide system of network of terrestrial and marine protected areas, as an integral contribution to the IUCN mission.

He is an Honorary Visiting Professor of the Marine Institute at the University of Plymouth, UK (2007 – present), and has a BSc Hons (1st) Ecology (Biological Sciences) (Exeter) and a PhD Marine Ecology (Exeter). He is a Fellow of the Society of Biology, a Chartered Biologist, a Fellow of the Linnaean Society, a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, and a Winston Churchill Fellow. He travels extensively, has published widely and undertakes frequent talks, seminars and interviews with the press.