Bodhi Patil is a young ocean climate solutionist passionate about the interconnection between Ocean Health and Human Health (OHHH). As the founder of Inner Light, co-creator of @oceanuprise, co-founder of Sea Dragon Studios – One World Breath, co-winner of the UN Oceans Conference Youth & Innovation Forum, and United Nations esteemed young leader, Bodhi supports young people to create impact at scale. He is a Youth Advisor for OnDeck Fisheries AI, World Ocean Day, and Break Free from Plastic Pollution. He is actively working on a Meaningful Youth Ocean-Climate Action strategy with various UN constituencies, UN Global Compact and youth partners. He is a second-year student in the BA + Masters of Management program at the University of British Columbia studying oceans, climate action, and business.
We recently spoke to Bodhi, who is an ECOP Canada member, about his work in the Youth-Ocean-Climate space. In the first, of a two-part interview, he reveals the depth of his emotional connection to our Planet’s Ocean and how he has been advocating on behalf of Youth to become more involved with Intergovernmental decision-making processes.
- Hi Bodhi! At the ECOP Programme we’re working to connect, strengthen and elevate the diverse voice of Early Career Ocean Professionals around the World; can you tell us how and why you got involved with campaigning on Ocean issues specifically, what’s your background and what has been your journey to get to this point?
My journey in protecting the ocean started from a childhood joy of playing in the tide pools of Point Roberts Washington, the pristine beaches of Bali Indonesia, and the water parks of Washington DC. Uncovering crabs under barnacle-covered rocks, manta rays in blue lagoons protected by barrier reefs, and finding peace in urban blue spaces, sparked my deep connection to water. As a global citizen and international traveller from an early age, I fell in love with the ocean and felt how it truly connects us all and the living shared ecosystem we inhabit. This deep sense of love and connection towards water, the lifeblood of our planet, remains the driving force for my ocean-climate solutions building.
After noticing how ocean/waterbody health was being affected in my local watershed, I wanted to take part in improving it. I was tenacious and persistent in reaching out to ocean conservation groups and landed the perfect opportunity with Parley for the Oceans – to co-create, build and revolutionize a creative youth-led platform for ocean-climate action – Ocean Uprise.
Ocean Uprise (OU) is a creative activist community, created by youth, for youth, where passionate young leaders from around the world come together to learn, connect, and take action to protect the oceans. Programs like the OU Internship (https://www.parley.tv/ocean-uprise/internship), which bring together youth from around the globe to identify their skills, and community and create their passion project, is the door into an ocean of possibilities within the marine conservation area, and open for any young ocean leaders to join!
While building Ocean Uprise and learning about ocean solutions from experts around the globe, I realized that systemic change and Intergenerational Collaboration are critical to addressing the multifaceted challenges young people face. From this childlike joy and newfound knowledge of the disproportionate impacts of climate change, I became a fierce advocate for young people to be included in decision-making processes at the UN, UNFCCC, UNEP, UNDP, and UNSG levels.
Building off grassroots platforms, I was able to tap into international fora like the UN Oceans Conference, Blue Climate Summit and NYC Climate Week, working side-by-side with financiers and industry leaders for ECOP inclusion and co-design within ocean innovation. Since then, I have co-won the UN Oceans Conference Youth & Innovation Forum, become the Chief Impact Officer at OnDeck Fisheries AI, co-founded Sea Dragon Studios – One World Breath, and serve as a youth advisor for Sustainable Ocean Alliance, Coral Morphologic, UN Global Compact Ocean Stewardship Coalition, Coextinction, Roots and Shoots, Peace Boat, World Ocean Day, Break Free from Plastic Pollution and others. Working alongside love-based ocean-climate action organizations that are building systems which advance ocean innovation is where I believe that I can maximize impact.
As a second-year student in the BA + Masters of Management program at the University of British Columbia studying oceanography, climate action, and business, I strongly believe in the power of ocean literacy and education. Within academia, I am working on an Ocean Stewardship chapter for a textbook on improving Oceans and Human Health (OHH). Alongside incredible mentors like Lora Flemming from the University of Exeter and Wallace J Nichols of Blue Mind, I am learning how to improve ocean and human health outcomes within academic institutions through knowledge and sharing best practices.
This has taught me that radical collaboration between universities, the government, and the private sector is needed to revolutionize curricula and empower student bodies to protect the places that they love. Learning from Indigenous Rightsholders, I know that “we stand on the shoulders of our ancestors.” This keeps me humble, kind, fierce, and with a lovingly-powerful heart in conservation work. I believe that those are the root values needed for ocean conservation and planetary regeneration.
- A large part of your work centers on the voice of YOUTH, why do you think it is so important that young people are heard, and that there is a strong dialogue between young people and the older generation/those in power, especially when it comes to Ocean and climate governance.
My focus is on addressing the need for Intergenerational Collaboration and the capability of young people in decision-making spaces. This approach combines the knowledge and experience of adults with the tenacity and passion of youth and creates opportunities for increased youth funding, mentorship, and internships in ocean-climate action.
The ocean & climate platform is an ECOP organization leading in ocean governance and ocean policy-making spaces. The #OceanForClimate platform is 90 members strong in promoting reflection and exchanges between the scientific community, civil society and political decision-makers. The ocean outcomes are as follows:
- “France expressed its support for the prohibition of seabed exploitation.
- The Egyptian presidency, together with the Government of Germany and the IUCN, launched the ENACT Initiative (Enhancing Nature-based Solutions for an Accelerated Climate Transformation) – which will coordinate global efforts to address climate change, land and ecosystem degradation, and biodiversity loss through Nature-based Solutions (NBS).
- The Netherlands has introduced the Champions Group for Deltas and Coastal Zones which will seek to harmonize action between countries and Small Island States to realize sustainable management of deltas and coastal zones in the short and medium term – and to provide area-specific advice to countries on the integral implementation of their National Adaptation Plans (NAPs) or national climate adaptation strategies.
- Several steps forward have also been taken for blue carbon ecosystems. Mangroves have been the object of financial commitments, with the launch of the Mangrove Breakthrough: an investment target of USD 4 billion to secure the future of 15 million hectares of mangroves globally by 2030. This breakthrough will build on collective action to halt mangrove loss, restore half of the recent losses, double the protection of mangroves globally, and ensure sustainable long-term finance for all existing mangroves. The recently launched High-Quality Blue Carbon Principles and Guidance outline the conditions for high-quality blue carbon projects and credits to ensure accountability, sustainability, and transparency in the marketplace. This aligns with growing demands for blue carbon credits that continue to attract many new actors and have been valued at over USD 190 billion per year and estimated to reduce costs associated with impacts such as flooding by over USD 65 billion annually.”
The ocean-climate alarm bells are ringing. And, current decision-makers are leaving GenZ & X, the planet’s most valuable but undervalued human resource and intelligence behind. This, we cannot afford. Many of today’s wealthiest companies were started by young people in their 20s. Many globally significant environmental organizations too. These have transformed all aspects of our world. Young people have the energy to co-create, act and pivot on their, your, and our vision for a better, more efficient, climate-smart and loving world.
Intergenerational collaboration with joint decision-making may just become the lovingly powerful partnership and tool we need for ocean-climate transformation. I do not doubt that Mother Nature would approve.
So, how do we get there? Five things I’ve been advocating for international conferences that have been getting traction:
- Create and deploy 360-degree mentoring programs
- Place young people on executive boards and in c-suite, executive positions
- Provide finance for youth-led innovations within organizations and institutions
- Offer equitable and paid internships for marginalized youth and those most disadvantaged
- Create an intergenerational task force for ocean-climate action and solutions
Intergenerational collaboration, cooperation, and co-creation will lead to a healthy planet and people. We are all in this together.
Photos from COP27, including (no.3) Bodhi with Peter Thompson, UN Ocean Envoy and a strong advocate for Intergenerational collaboration.
Learn more about and get in touch with Bodhi here and stay tuned for PART TWO of our interview, where Bodhi gives his reflections on COP27 which he recently attended.