Sustaining Ocean Ecosystems: SDG Speaker Series Continues on April 22


The Mount Madonna School (MMS) public speaker series based on the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) continues on April 22 with “FishWise: Sustaining Ocean Ecosystems and the People Who Depend on Them” featuring Tobias Aguirre. The discussion will begin at 7:00pm

Aguirre is a 1994 MMS graduate and the CEO of FishWise, a Santa Cruz-based nonprofit organization providing innovative market-based tools and expertise in sustainability services, human rights action, and traceability best practices. He will discuss how a local nonprofit can have global impact.

“The oceans serve as the foundation for all life on the planet,” commented Aguirre. “They provide the air we breathe, the food many of us eat, and livelihoods and enjoyment for millions and millions of people. And yet, their sheer vastness, once seen as inexhaustible, makes them difficult to sustainably and equitably manage. Even worse, they are prone to illegal fishing, forced labor, and even modern slavery. Seafood, the world’s most traded commodity, is both the problem and the solution. In this seminar, we will explore the roots of these challenges, innovative partnerships and solutions that hold great promise, and ways in which the achievement of SDG 14 might just hold the key to progress on all of the SDGs.”

Aguire’s lecture corresponds to United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 14: Life Below Water. The SDGs are a collection of 17 interlinked global goals designed to be a “blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all.” The SDGs were set in 2015 by the UN General Assembly and are intended to be achieved by the year 2030.

All of the events in the Mount Madonna School’s Sustainable Development Goals speaker series are offered via Zoom. Tickets are available by donation, and can be ordered via the seminar series website, sdgspeakerseries.org.

“The global climate emergency has wide-ranging impacts such as food and water insecurity, mass migration due to displacement and resource competition, and more frequent and intense climate-related natural disasters,” commented Mount Madonna Head of School Ann Gowert. “All sectors of society should partner to reduce emissions and establish sustainable practices. At Mount Madonna School, we practice and educate our students about sustainability.”

Some of the lectures will be moderated by MMS students. Students and the audience will participate in meaningful conversations with guests – most of whom are Mount Madonna alumni – as well as friends who are working on critical societal issues.

Tobias Aguirre, CEO at FishWise, sets the conservation vision and organizational strategy for this nonprofit sustainable seafood consultancy based in Santa Cruz. FishWise takes a holistic approach to sustainability and aims to transform how the global seafood industry does business in order to protect ocean health and workers’ rights, and to build a collaborative approach to conservation that results in effective business and improved social and environmental performance.

Aguirre serves on a number of advisory bodies and committees and is a board member of the Conservation Alliance for Seafood Solutions, a global collective impact initiative designed to achieve several United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. He holds degrees from Stanford University and The School of Global Policy and Strategy (GPS) at the University of California San Diego (UCSD), where he specialized in nonprofit management and business strategy. His awards include the UCSD GPS 2018 Outstanding Alumnus award and the Conservation Alliance Spirit award, and was named a Seafood Watch Hero by the Monterey Bay Aquarium.

“One of the core tenets of Mount Madonna School is environmental stewardship,” noted Director of Upper School Shannon Kelly. “The physical location not only serves as a constant reminder of the beauty and power of nature, it also provides us a 375-acre classroom. I think that our students’ connection with the land is foundational to their commitment to sustainability and environmental justice. I am excited that MMS students have the opportunity to speak with an individual whose work has had a substantial impact in the realm of sustainability and environmental education.”