New Keynote Speakers Tapped for IMPAC5

Three more leading voices in marine protection announced for Vancouver 2023

IMPAC5 is proud to announce Michael Vegh, Sylvia Earle and Cristina Mittermeier as the latest keynote speakers for the Fifth International Marine Protected Areas Congress (IMPAC5) taking place in Vancouver, Canada in February 2023.

L-R: Michael Vegh, Sylvia Earle, Cristina Goettsch Mittermeier

These speakers are representative of the diverse global community of leaders who offer unique perspectives on issues related to marine protection.  All three are innovators in their fields and have contributed to the international movement to create marine protected areas informed by science, Indigenous knowledge and youth engagement.

Keynote Speakers

IMPAC5 has invited fifteen keynote speakers from around the globe who will lead lively discussions based on the Congress themes and streams, and inspire delegates to take action to protect the world ocean.

Michael Vegh

Michael Vegh – Q̓án̓ístisḷa – is from Heiltsuk Nation, a remote Indigenous community on the central coast of what is now called British Columbia. Michael is the Háɫcístut Implementation Manager for Heiltsuk Tribal Council, overseeing 55 projects related to economic development, Heiltsuk language revitalization, housing, marine and fisheries operations, and self-governance. Michael is also the Energy Implementation Advisor for the Heiltsuk Climate Action Team and the lead author for the Heiltsuk Community Energy Plan.  Michael is a recipient of Corporate Knight’s Top 30 Under 30 Award and the Future of Good’s 21 Young Impact Leaders Award. He is currently on the Board of Directors at Nature United, and has been appointed to the Commission for Environmental Cooperation’s Traditional Ecological Knowledge Expert Group. Michael puts his passion towards the empowerment of Indigenous governance and worldviews, which is essential to create a just and sustainable world.

Sylvia Earle – Photo: © Todd Brown

Sylvia Earle is a National Geographic Society Explorer at Large, founder and co-chair of Mission Blue, founder of Deep Ocean Exploration and Research (DOER), a founding member of Ocean Elders, an IUCN Patron of Nature, founding director for the Deep Hope Foundation, chair of the Advisory Council for the Harte Research Institute, advisor for the Earth Observatory of Singapore at NTU, former Chief Scientist of NOAA, and a Rolex Testimonee since 1982. She has authored more than 230 publications, led more than 100 expeditions and has spent years at sea and thousands of hours under the ocean. A Living Legend of the United States Library of Congress, Sylvia is the recipient of more than 150 honors and awards including Time Magazine’s first Hero for the Planet, the Tallberg-Eliasson Global Leadership Prize, the TED Prize, the Harris World Ecology Medal, the National Wildlife Federation Robin Winks Medal, the Royal Geographic Society Patrons Medal, and the National Geographic Society Hubbard Medal. Sylvia’s contributions and research on science-based conservation of species and ecosystems, the ecology and conservation of natural ocean systems, and development of technology for access to the deep sea have greatly influenced the global movement towards ocean protection.

Cristina Goettsch Mittermeier

Cristina Goettsch Mittermeier graduated from the ITESM University in Mexico with a degree in Biochemical Engineering in Marine Sciences before attending the Fine Art Photography program at the Corcoran College for the Arts in Washington, D.C. In 2005 Mittermeier founded the prestigious International League of Conservation Photographers (ILCP) to provide a platform for photographers working on environmental issues—a discipline that she coined as “conservation photography”. In 2014 she co-founded SeaLegacy, a non-profit organization that uses strategic communications at the intersection of art, science, and conservation to protect and rewild the ocean for the benefit of biodiversity, humanity and climate within our lifetimes. Mittermeier’s work has been published in hundreds of prominent magazines including National Geographic, TIME and Maclean’s Magazine. Along with her partner, Paul Nicklen, Cristina was named one of National Geographic’s Adventurers of the Year in 2018 and has recently joined the Rolex Perpetual Planet Initiative. Cristina has been honoured with many notable awards including the Seattle Aquarium’s Sylvia Earle Medal and Travel + Leisure’s Global Vision Award. She was named one of the 100 Latinos Most Committed to Climate Action. 

Stay tuned as IMPAC5 announces more exciting Keynote Speakers in the lead up to the Congress. In addition to sessions with these fascinating marine protection leaders, IMPAC5 will feature more than 450 presentations over the course of the Congress.

Find out more about our Keynote Speakers and the IMPAC5’s extensive program at www.impac5.ca/congress-details.

Register today and don’t miss your chance to engage with emerging experts and ocean professionals as we chart a course to protect 30% of the World Ocean by 2030.

Quick Facts:

IMPAC events attract a global community of marine conservation managers and practitioners who exchange knowledge, experience and best practices to strengthen the conservation of marine biodiversity and to protect the natural and cultural heritage of the ocean.  

IMPAC Congresses are a collaborative effort between the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and the chosen host country. Since 2005, four IMPAC events have taken place in the following locations:

  • IMPAC1 – Geelong, Australia (2005)
  • IMPAC2 – Washington, D.C., United States of America (2009)
  • IMPAC3 – Marseille, France (2013)
  • IMPAC4 – La Serena-Coquimbo, Chile (2017).

During the closing ceremony of IMPAC4, Canada was awarded the honour of hosting IMPAC5.

To guide discussions and further dialogue, all aspects of IMPAC5 will be informed by five themes and three cross-cutting streams.


  • Building a global marine protected area network
  • Advancing conservation in the blue economy
  • Actively managing marine protected areas and human activity
  • Conserving biodiversity and addressing the climate crisis
  • Connecting ocean, culture and human well-being


  • Indigenous Peoples Leadership
  • The Voice of Young Professionals
  • Innovation and Transformational Change

Associated links:



Ben Stanford
Communications Manager
Fifth International Marine Protected Areas Congress (IMPAC5)
+1 604-347-8754

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For more information on IMPAC5, please visit www.IMPAC5.ca and follow @IMPAC5Canada on social media