Beyond boundaries: Pablo Orozco’s global impact


January 17, 2024

For almost a decade, the Alliance for Science has been at the forefront of efforts to create a future where science is a primary vehicle for helping end poverty, eliminate hunger, and restore our planet.

One man who has been at the center of the Alliance for Science’s efforts is Guatemalan lawyer Pablo Ivan Orozco, who has stepped down as Global Policy Director of the Alliance for Science to pursue other career opportunities.

As the dynamic leader of the Alliance for Science’s Global Policy team, Pablo dedicated the last seven years to advancing science-based solutions that address global challenges to the world’s food systems, focusing on agricultural biotechnology.

Pablo’s works are inspired by his firm belief that the world’s social and environmental challenges can be addressed effectively through scientific, technological, and market innovations and progressive legal solutions.

His journey into science advocacy is rooted in his passion for sustainable development and a burning commitment to see a world where no child goes hungry. Growing up in Guatemala, where the stark realities of food insecurity and poverty were the norm, these formative experiences ignited a passion for social justice that would shape his career. From a young age, Pablo sincerely appreciated the interconnectedness of farming, technology, and environmental stewardship.

Pablo Orozco at the United Nations Biodiversity Conference in Canada. [Alliance for Science]

Influenced by a strong sense of empathy and a belief in the inherent dignity of every individual, Pablo embarked on a journey to become a catalyst for change.

A Chevening Scholar who earned a Masters in International Law with distinction from the University of Bristol in the UK, Pablo’s unique background and professional skills positioned him to take up assignments in Latin America, North America, Europe, Africa, and Asia, helping governments formulate agricultural biotechnology policies.

Before joining the Alliance for Science as a Global Leadership Fellow in 2016, he worked as an attorney specializing in international trade and aid law in his home country, Guatemala. He worked with private agricultural firms, infrastructure developers, and the government on various public-private initiatives and assisted the government’s 233 million-dollar Transversal Corridor of the North infrastructure project. A yearning to create more impact beyond his home country led him to participate in the Alliance for Science Global Leadership Fellows program, and he never looked back.

As the driving force behind the Alliance’s policy engagements, Pablo was instrumental in fostering collaboration between scientists, policymakers, farmers, and communities to ensure the responsible application of biotechnology in agriculture.

Under his leadership, the Alliance for Science policy team advocated science-based approaches to decision-making at various international-level forums. These include the biennial United Nations Biodiversity Conference of Parties, where the Alliance for Science has repeatedly sent science allies to advocate a balanced approach to assessing the contributions and impact of biotechnology on the environment.

“Anti-science groups from the global North too often dominate international policy discussions… It’s so important that scientists, smallholder farmers, and social justice activists from developing nations have a voice in decisions that profoundly affect their food security and quality of life,” Pablo said.

Under his leadership, the Global Policy team at the Alliance for Science also launched the Biodiversity Innovation Coalition and other organizations to ensure better access to the United Nations Convention on Biodiversity by academia and research groups.

the South-South Collaboration for Innovations Workshop in Nairobi, Kenya
Pablo Orozco at the South-South Collaboration for Innovations Workshop in Nairobi, Kenya, in 2023. [Manyara Kinoti]

Pablo also led the establishment of the South-South Collaboration, a pro-science group of countries from the Global South working to foster an enabling and collaborative environment among South-South countries for biotechnology research, development, and innovation to accelerate local solutions towards food security, climate change adaptation and mitigation, and the sustainable use of biodiversity.

“He opened up new doors in the South-South collaboration, literally brought countries together just by the power of his persuasion and his ability to build common ground,” Dr Sheila Ochugboju, the executive director of the Alliance for Science said about Pablo at a farewell dinner held in his honor.

Pablo Orozco speaking at a training session in India. [Alliance for Science]

Pablo was also a member of the Alliance for Science’s training team. He spearheaded numerous training programs to empower allies with skills to raise awareness of how scientific innovations can help make a difference in the complex fight against hunger and climate change.

From sustainable agriculture projects to educational initiatives on GMOs and gene editing, these training programs are helping build resilient, self-sufficient communities that can be their own advocates.

“His leadership inspired the kind of regional cooperation that will allow scientists across Latin America to access the tools they need to breed the crops and animals that will feed a healthy future,” Dr Sarah Evanega, former director of the Alliance for Science, said.

At the core of Pablo’s vision for the world is the belief that meeting the Sustainable Development Goals on ‘no poverty’ and ‘no hunger’ is a shared responsibility that requires the collaboration of various societies and groups worldwide to achieve. He believes that through collaborative projects and initiatives, technologically advanced farming practices that empower communities can help ensure global food security.

Pablo Orozco at an Alliance for Science event in Ithaca, New York. [Alliance for Science]

The Alliance for Science Global Policy team has become a beacon of knowledge dissemination and dialogue facilitation around biotechnology through engaging public outreach programs and partnerships with research institutions.

By inspiring collaboration and championing innovation, Pablo is leaving an indelible mark on the global landscape of agricultural biotechnology policy, the effects of which will be felt for a long time. He describes his experiences at the Alliance as that unique environment that has brought out the best in him.

“The Alliance has done an excellent job of bringing together people with a voice. Everyone has a different background. And the Alliance has provided a platform where we can all talk to each other and do the necessary work to help farmers, Pablo said.

The Alliance for Science wishes Pablo all the best in his future endeavors, with executive director Dr Ochugboju telling him, “We wish you blessings. We will follow you with love and always support you in everything you do.”