Meet Bodhi Patil - Ocean Climate Solutionist
By Laurie Fanelli
April 18, 2023
Tom's of Maine Incubator: Meet Bodhi Patil, Ocean Climate Change Activist
Tom's of Maine knows that some of the people with the most inspiring solutions for combatting climate change are the same ones that may be impacted most. So, Tom's launched a program to amplify the voices of a new generation of leaders and make their voices heard.
The Tom's of Maine Incubator provides funding, mentorship, and support to five Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) activists—including ocean climate change activist Bodhi Patil—who are developing smart solutions to the most pressing climate challenges. These individuals are highly accomplished in their fields, and Tom's of Maine hopes to continue to propel their work through impactful action plans.
Meet Ocean Climate Change Activist Bodhi Patil
If you're wondering what an ocean climate change activist looks like, look no further than Bodhi Patil. Recognized by the United Nations as an esteemed young ocean leader, Bodhi is a marine educator focused on human health and ocean pollution and co-founder of Ocean Uprise. We had the opportunity to ask him a bit more about his work and future goals.
To kick us off, Bodhi, share a bit about who you are and where you're from for our Tom's of Maine readers.
Hi everyone! I'm a United Nations-recognized, award-winning Gen Z ocean climate solutionist dedicated to improving Ocean Health and Human Health (OHHH), which are interconnected.
Like all life on Earth, I'm deeply connected to the ocean—the greatest source of water, a key source of the oxygen we all breathe, the planet's largest carbon sink, and the thing that regulates our weather and climate. The ocean connects us all to Mother Nature and to each other, whether we realize it or not. It's my connection to the ocean (I was raised in, on, or around five oceans on five continents), all it offers, and all I've learned from experiencing and studying it that largely defines who I am and why I'm on a mission to restore OHHH.
As the founder of Inner Light, co-founder of SeaDragon Studios, and co-creator of Ocean Uprise, I focus on improving millions of lives by co-creating climate action movements (little ripples that can make waves) and advancing youth-led solutions that create positive impact at scale. To me, the most important ocean climate solutions—and the ones that are truly likely to last—are co-created by good-hearted people. I'm grateful to sit on boards and advise several love-based eco-organizations that are on a mission to protect our planet and build a global community for ocean climate action.
As a student, advocate, and climate justice leader in my second year of the BA+Masters in Management degree at the University of British Columbia, I find it most rewarding to connect the dots between Gen Z, eco-tech organizations, and climate solution trailblazers—and, in doing so, to build a movement of movements to regenerate our planet.
I love surfing, diving, hiking, climbing, biking, skiing, kayaking, and exploring the many natural and human wonders of this blue planet. I center joy and impact at the heart of my ocean conservation life.
Entrepreneurship in the ocean climate industry seems to be important to you. How did you get started, and what have you learned along the way?
The ocean is the Earth's largest source of water. That's why it's called the Blue Planet. My journey as an ocean guardian started from a place of deep connection to water and the understanding that water is life. As a toddler, I played in and explored tide pools, streams, and rivers connected to the sea and swam over vibrant, bustling coral reefs. I first fell in love with the ocean while snorkeling with my dad when I was four years old. I remember the wonder and drama of a blacktip reef shark encircling us along with schools of fish and a sea turtle in crystal blue Balinese waters. Since then, I have devoted my life to better understanding and protecting the ocean.
Not many people realize that our ocean is the greatest natural solution to climate change. Humans often move too fast to take notice. Perhaps this is why we've explored space more than our ocean! When we slow down, take a breath, and actually listen to the voice of our ocean, we understand that she's having a hard time breathing.
I've been grateful to engage with, listen to, and learn from Indigenous leaders from the Arctic, Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Through them (and my own deep listening), I hear her voice, and it's loud and clear. Pollution, overfishing, unregulated extraction, and climate change threaten the health and lifeline of our greatest life support system. The pain of witnessing this suffering compelled me to take action to protect my childhood best friend, Mother Ocean.
I've turned my childhood interests, curiosity, passion, and desire to act into a lifelong career, building a movement to stem the tide of pollution and create a generation of fellow ocean warriors. With Ocean Uprise and SeaDragon Studios, my dream to protect and connect nature is a reality. There are over 5,000 young people in our network educating their communities, safeguarding biodiversity, restoring blue natural capital (like mangroves and kelp), innovating ocean solutions, and building a regenerative blue economy based on love, care, and compassion.
Beyond these two roles and my university classes, I'm a youth advisor to amazing science-based, eco-tech start-ups like OnDeck Fisheries AI, Symbrosia Seaweed, and Coral Gardeners; movement-based organizations like Sustainable Ocean Alliance, World Ocean Day, Break Free from Plastic Pollution; and educationally minded companies and initiatives such as Sankari Studios, Reefline, VerdiAzul, Coral Morphologic, and others with innovative solutions to transform failing systems.
Traveling, learning from Indigenous guardianship, and listening to the voice of the ocean give me the hope, joy, and energy I need to improve the world by advancing nature-based solutions.
April marks Earth Day, a critical moment for environmental protection and a celebration of the place we call home. What does Earth Day mean to you?
Every day is Earth Day. Mother Earth gives us so much without expecting anything in return. Our current myopic systems of exploitation continue to take from her without giving back. My fellow young environmental justice leaders and I are here to change that and write our future based on new values. We value reciprocity, deep active listening, and intergenerational collaboration.
This Earth Day is an opportunity to redefine our relationship with Earth—to give back and find better ways to live in symbiosis with our home planet. Many local communities, Indigenous peoples, and BIPOC solutionists already do this, and their voices and solutions need to be heard. Let us value these communities and planet Earth for the gifts they provide. Let us transcend ego and greed, reaching for new heights by centering reciprocity and justice in our lives. The tide is turning quickly, so climb into our canoe where we paddle together for Indigenous sovereignty, planetary health, ocean regeneration, and community care.
Let this Earth Day be the day you put your paddle in the water and do what's needed to propel our common canoe forward for the ocean and human health.
You were recently recognized by the United Nations as an esteemed young ocean leader. How does this amplify your work at Ocean Uprise?
"I'm immensely proud to work with the United Nations and grateful for the support they've shown Ocean Uprise and me to date. Alongside a diverse global community of young ocean leaders, I'm specially recognized by the United Nations as an esteemed ocean climate solutionist, activist, and intergenerational collaboration leader. Co-creating the opportunity to be a UN solutionist and helping the underserved communities I represent was no easy feat. It took grit, perseverance, a positive attitude, and a relentless drive to stand up for my values. In times of darkness, you have to remember that there is light at the end of the tunnel. With this knowledge, I kept going, and the tide started to turn. Pro tip: never give up.
Having the opportunity to speak to the UN secretary-general about heart-centered, love-based ocean innovation and co-winning the UN Ocean Conference Youth & Innovation Forum with project INVASEA—Innovating with Invasive Species—was another dream come true. This award was incredibly special, as I won it with a team of four young ocean-impact makers who I'm still super close friends with today.
My family and tribe of ocean innovators at Ocean Uprise and Sustainable Ocean Alliance keep me stoked to continue working toward material innovation, sustainable fisheries, deep-sea protection, coastal resiliency, and healthy blue communities. This is a lifelong voyage!"
Looking ahead, can you share any special projects or exciting initiatives you have coming up?
The next few months look exciting for Ocean Uprise, SeaDragon Studios, and for me. But before we look ahead, let's look back. I recently had the honor of co-authoring an article in The Economist, ""Stem the Tide of Pollution,"" published during the UN 2023 Water Conference in New York. Before that, I co-led an OHHH workshop for 250 Aspen Institute Future Leaders and discussed eco-anxiety (climate mental health) with Vice President Kamala Harris during the Aspen Ideas: Climate Summit in Miami Beach. As a result of leading a collaborative youth-led advocacy campaign to #DefendTheDeep and stop deep-sea mining, Canada declared a moratorium on deep-sea mining during IMPAC5 in February here in my backyard (Vancouver, Canada).
As we push to stop extractive industries and pollution, we push toward ocean, biodiversity, and clean energy solutions.
Here's my forward look: After my second year comes to a close in May, I will be reunited with my dear friends and incredible leaders from Tetiaroa Society and Coral Gardeners, dedicated to protecting the biodiverse and beautiful waters of French Polynesia in Tahiti. I will be filming a nature-connection project for SeaDragon Studio's ""One World Breath"" initiative on Vancouver Island and working with PhD scientists at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute to better understand and communicate the wonders of the deep ocean.
As I'm still a 20-year-old student with wanderlust and excitement in my eyes, I'll also make sure to have fun, work hard, use my privilege for good, and enjoy the simple pleasures of the wonderful ocean that I've dedicated my life to protecting.
Be the Change the World Needs
Water is life. All life is connected. We are one ocean, and we are powerful creators. What are you going to do to protect and connect with the ocean?
Answer this question by standing with Tom's of Maine and joining Bodhi's movement. To collaborate with Bodhi, learn more, and support his ocean climate solutions, reach out to email@example.com.
The Tom's of Maine Incubator is a program designed to propel the next generation of BIPOC leaders driving environmental solutions. The program provides funding, mentorship, amplification, and support to young changemakers, helping them Do Good. For Real. Learn more about the program and the other 2022 Incubators.
The views and opinions expressed in any guest post featured on our site are those of the guest author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions and views of Tom's of Maine.
Why It’s Good
The Tom's of Maine Incubator is amplifying the voices of those most impacted by climate change by providing funding and mentorship to young change-makers.