Attending an International BBNJ Conference for the First Time

Reflections by Vanessa Ferreira Lopes

Vanessa (4th from right) and other members of the DOSI delegation at BBNJ IGC-5.

Vanessa Ferreira Lopes is an early-career ocean professional who most recently completed a master’s degree in Marine Biology at Boston University. She joined DOSI’s delegation at the BBNJ IGC-5 Conference in August 2022, and was a huge help to our work communicating science to inform policy. Below, Vanessa shares some thoughts about her experience and the need to include early-career professionals in key policy meetings.


My name is Vanessa, and I am a recent graduate with a Master’s in Marine Biology. After graduation, I explored different career paths, including Ocean Policy, to figure out my next steps. The Deep Ocean Stewardship Initiative (DOSI) was introduced to me at this time. DOSI allowed me to attend the fifth session of the Intergovernmental Conference (IGC-5) at the United Nations Headquarters in New York City. Participating in the DOSI delegation for IGC-5 has been such an amazing experience.

It was interesting to observe the process of international negotiations. I connected with other ocean professionals, shared my story, and used my voice as an early career ocean scientist from a developing country. I learned about different career opportunities and the choices I have moving forward. If this treaty is adopted, there will be many components for its implementation. This allowed me to think about how I would like to be involved in the implementation of this treaty, and how I can work with Small Island Developing States (SIDS) regarding their role. As a result of networking at this conference, I have been working on projects and collaborating with other ocean professionals I met. I have also landed my next role and I am looking forward to many other opportunities that may arise.

I am very grateful to DOSI for allowing me to be at IGC-5. It was without a doubt a stepping stone in my career. I would encourage DOSI to continue to support early career professionals in taking part in such meetings as it has already had a meaningful impact on my career.  I would also encourage other students and anyone in their early careers to take advantage of such opportunities as this experience and mentorship can have a lifelong impact on their careers.


You can find Vanessa on Twitter here.

If you’re an early-career professional or researcher interested in getting involved at policy meetings, you can learn about opportunities to join DOSI’s Working Groups here.