David Prieto Awarded Fulbright to Research Arctic Ocean Protection

Fourth SPS Fulbright Scholar of 2017

David Prieto, 2015 graduate of the Master of Science in Sustainability Management program at Columbia University’s School of Professional Studies, has been awarded a Fulbright-National Science Foundation Arctic Research Grant, focused on interdisciplinary issues across the Arctic. The specialized grant is co-funded by the Fulbright Program and the U.S. National Science Foundation.

While at Columbia, Prieto completed an independent capstone project in the Republic of Palau, an island nation in Micronesia. He developed a report highlighting the economic benefits of marine conservation, and his research helped establish “what is currently the sixth largest marine protected area (MPA) in the world,” he says.

Since graduating in 2015, Prieto has been working at AccountAbility, a global consulting and standards firm that works with business, governments and multilateral organizations to advance sustainable business practices.

While based in Iceland for the grant, Prieto will research the benefits of establishing an MPA over the Central Arctic Ocean, exploring the effects of natural resource development, shipping rights, and geopolitics.

He believes it is a crucial time for this research, noting: “Treaty negotiations to create marine protected areas beyond national jurisdiction have recently been initiated at the United Nations. The Central Arctic Ocean falls within that category. The question is not whether the Arctic Ocean will be ice-free, rather by the time that it is, what will be the implications for the sustainability of the economies that depend on it and what incentives exist to encourage countries to cooperate and protect the rapidly changing region.”

Karl Rutter, Senior Advisor for Institutional Relations at the School of Professional Studies, says that Prieto’s award “is an outstanding accomplishment for him and an honor for us.”

Designed to increase mutual understanding between the people of the U.S. and other countries, the Fulbright Program is the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government. Columbia is a top Fulbright destination for scholars from abroad and Prieto is one of four School of Professional Studies students or graduates awarded a Fulbright grant this year.