Vipe Desai on Activism, Disruption, and Democratization to Save our Oceans

Elijah Szasz
Mar 30 · 3 min read

Sustainability is at the top of our list for ways technology and new media can create meaningful positive change. We recently had the pleasure to do work for The Ocean Institute and their Board Chairman, Vipe Desai. Founded in 1977, this community-based nonprofit organization educates students and public visitors across more than 60 marine science and maritime history programs. Located on 2.4 acres in the Dana Point Harbor, adjacent to a Marine Conservation Area, the site is ideal for hands-on learning about the sea.

One of the first things many of the new students learn is that beneath the oceans’ surface is 80% of all life on earth. More than half of the oxygen we breathe is produced by the ocean. The rich ecosystem that spills over seagrass meadows, mangroves, and salt marches absorbs C02 at a rate of fifty times faster than the same area of tropical rainforest. And while we while we scour Mars for signs of life, two thirds of ocean species have yet to be discovered. Unfortunately, our oceans have no shortage of imminent threats. Plastic pollution, offshore drilling and pipelines, dying reefs, overfishing are just few of the many ways industry is eroding the health of our oceans.

The fight for sustainability has evolved with the rest of our world and new media plays a large part in the way that activism, education, brand, business, and government policy all work together. Vipe Desai is an award-winning executive and thought-leader who is known for having a sharp eye on the ever-changing consumer dynamics, trends, challenges and opportunities that help make informed decisions in the boardroom.

Vipe has over 30 years of marketing, branding and leadership experience along with 20 years of governance serving on more than a dozen boards. He has a solid track record of leading successful brand launches, organizational change, brand repositioning and strategic planning within the boardroom. Vipe also has a true passion for inspiring, mobilizing, and empowering support for underserved communities. This dedicated and experienced leader has worked in a host of sectors that spans retail, action sports, commercial real estate, food & beverage, and media. If you’re wondering what that has to do with saving our oceans, the answer is EVERYTHING. All of these experiences have enabled Vipe to bridge the story elements that connect brands, incentives, belief systems and the resulting policies. Vipe is focusing on ensuring that future generations are met with a healthy and thriving ocean and is involved with several ventures focused around innovations and solutions that will reduce plastic waste and minimize business’s impact on the planet.

During my chat with Vipe, we cover his entrepreneurial journey that started in a surf shop and eventually led him to testify before Congress thirty years later. Through his work with huge brands and disruptive platforms across multiple industries, Vipe has honed the skills that make him a powerful ally for our planet as it pertains to the complex dance between business and policy-makers. Listen on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and check out the links and show notes.

-Elijah Szasz

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Elijah Szasz

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Elijah runs a LA/SLC creative agency focused on the good side of technology. He’s also a mediocre athlete, father, and entrepreneur.

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