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OFFICER OF THE BRITISH EMPIRE
THE JOURNEY SO FAR
Robert Swan OBE
1979 BA Hons Ancient History, Durham University UK
1980 - 81 British Antarctic Survey, field guide
1984 - 87 ‘In the Footsteps of Scott’, South Pole Expedition; South Pole reached, 11 January 1986
1987 - 89 ‘Icewalk’, North Pole Expedition, North Pole reached, 14 May 1989
Became the first person in history to walk to both Poles
1992 Invited by the United Nations as keynote speaker at the first Earth Summit, held in Rio de Janeiro
1992 - 2002 The world leaders’ challenge: ‘Think Global, Act Local’
The ‘Global Mission’ : Initiated the removal of 1,500 tons of waste from Antarctica
The ‘Local Mission’ : Partnered with African organization ‘loveLife’ and reached 150,000 young people on the issue of AIDS
2002 Presented the successful Global and Local Missions to world leaders at the Johannesburg World Summit for
2003 Cape to Rio Yacht Race with sailboat ‘2041’
2003 - 04 Circumnavigation of Africa with sailboat ‘2041’
2004 - 05 Sailboat ‘2041’ entered the Sydney Hobart Yacht Race with sails made from recycled plastic bottles
2003 - present Inspire Antarctic Expeditions: Involving industry & young people on the preservation of Antarctica and the need for
2008 ‘The E-Base Goes Live’ : Pioneered the world’s first education base in Antarctica which ran solely off renewable energy
2008 The Voyage for Cleaner Energy Phase I: Lectured at 26 prominent universities along the West coast of the U.S. to highlight the
convenient ways that individuals can implement sustainable practices in their lives
2008 The Voyage for Cleaner Energy Phase II: Sailboat ‘2041’ continued on the East coast of the U.S.
2012 The third World Summit for Sustainable Development
2041 - 48 The ‘Madrid Protocol’ and moratorium on mining and drilling in Antarctica will be reviewed
The Dream 1967
Robert Charles Swan was born on 28 July
1956. His interest in polar exploration
began at school in England. At the age of
eleven, he became inspired by the ‘Heroic
Age of Antarctic Exploration’ (1895 - 1917)
and the race to the South Pole between
Robert Falcon Scott, Ernest Shackleton
and Roald Amundsen.
It was Scott’s tragic final journey to the South
Pole that inspired Robert’s commitment
to follow ‘In the Footsteps of Scott’ to the
Captain Robert Falcon Scott & Team, South Pole, 17 January 1912
Robert Charles Swan, Age 11 Sir Ernest Shackleton Roald Amundsen
The Vision 1979 to 1984
In 1979 Robert decided to raise the necessary funds to reach the
Pole. It took him five years of planning and over 1,000 sponsors to
reach the $5 million required for the expedition. With these funds he
purchased a ship, ‘Southern Quest’, and convinced 25 volunteers to
give up three years of their lives for the expedition.
‘Southern Quest’ set sail for Antarctica in mid January 1984 to travel
the 15,000 miles to Antarctica. The only stop on the journey was
Lyttleton, New Zealand to meet Bill Burton, who at 96 was the last
surviving member of Scott’s expedition of 1912. Robert’s dream was
becoming a reality.
Roger Mear, Bill Burton & Robert Swan
The South Pole 1984 to 1987
In the Footsteps of Scott
After sailing three months, the team arrived in February 1985 during the Antarctic winter, and
stayed until November in the ‘Jack Hayward’ base (so named to honor a generous donor),
with the base camp team John Tolson and Dr. Michael Stroud. Once winter had passed,
Robert Swan, Roger Mear, and Gareth Wood set out to ski the 900 miles to the Geographic
South Pole, each hauling 350-pound sleds.
On 11 January 1986, after 70 days of travel and without the aid of any radio communications or
emergency support, Robert’s team stood at the Geographic South Pole. They had completed
the longest unsupported Antarctic expedition in history.
The North Pole 1987 to 1989
Three years after reaching the South Pole, Robert assembled a team of eight people from
seven nations in an attempt to reach the Geographic North Pole. The team consisted of
Dr. Misha Malakhov, Russia; Rupert Summerson, UK; Graeme Joy, Australia; Arved Fuchs,
Germany; Hiroshi Onishi, Japan; Angus Cockney, Inuit; and Daryl E. Roberts, USA.
To engage and inspire the world’s youth, the expedition selected 22 young people from 15
countries and stationed them at the base camp in Eureka on Ellesmere Island in the High
Arctic. While monitoring the expedition team, they produced a series of educational films and
facilitated the process of waste removal from the surrounding Arctic wilderness.
Robert and his team reached the Geographic North Pole on 14 May 1989. At the age of 33
Robert Swan had become the first person in history to walk to both the North and South
On both polar expeditions, Robert
experienced first hand the effects of climate
change and ozone depletion. Prior to this,
no significant research on the depletion
of the ozone layer had been undertaken.
Robert’s expeditions highlighted the reality
of a global climate disturbance.
The historic journeys completed, two of
Robert’s patrons for his polar expedition,
Jacques Cousteau and Sir Peter Scott
(Founder of the World Wildlife Fund),
asked Robert to use his story toward the
preservation of the Antarctic.
Thus began Robert’s 50 year mission, to
inspire the youth of our planet, in the hope
that by 2041 we ensure their engagement
on the protection of this last great wilderness
on Earth, for generations to come.
The 50 Year Mission 1991 to 2041
Human activities in Antarctica are governed
by an international agreement known as the
Antarctic Treaty, established in 1961. This
unique international agreement ensures that
Antarctica is used for peaceful purposes only and
that the environment is protected. To date, the
Antarctic Treaty has been signed by 44 nations,
representing two-thirds of the world’s population.
‘We should have The Madrid Protocol provides additional pro-
tection for the Antarctic Treaty and designates the
continent as a ‘Natural Reserve Land for Science
the wisdom to
and Peace’. It also places a ban on mining and
mineral exploration for 50 years. This moratorium
expires in 2041.
As the year 2041 quickly approaches, Robert’s
know when to
goal is to ensure that the young people of today
make informed and sustainable decisions for
tomorrow. In our own backyards we can take
small achievable steps to protect and preserve
the beauty and integrity of our environment and
our planet for future generations.
Sir Peter Scott, 1988
From Earth Summit to World Summit
Rio de Janeiro, 1992
Robert was invited by the United Nations as a keynote speaker to the first Earth Summit for
Sustainable Development, held in Rio de Janeiro in 1992. During the conference he was
challenged to “Think Global, Act Local”. Robert made a commitment to deliver a global and
local environmental mission, carried out by young people from around the world, to the next
World Summit, in 2002. Both missions were to involve leaders in industry and business, and
engage youth in the process.
The Global Mission
In 1993, in support of the Global Mission, Robert took 35 young people from 25 nations to
Antarctica. With the cooperation of the Russian Government, the team would endeavor to
remove and recycle 1,500 tons of waste from Antarctica.
Seven years later, through the team’s enormous effort of fundraising, planning and executing
the mission, the waste at the Russian base of Bellingshausen, King George Island, was
finally cleared. The wilderness area that had been uninhabitable for Antarctic wildlife was
1992 to 2002
World Summit for Sustainable Development
The Local Mission
In an effort to support a relevant local mission, Robert partnered
with ‘loveLife’, an organization battling AIDS in South Africa, the
location of the next World Summit for Sustainable Development. In
order to reach the greatest number of young people, Robert and the
‘2041’ sailboat embarked on an overland voyage through the heart
of South Africa.
The voyage reached out to over 150,000 young people across South
Africa. During the World Summit the ‘Ice Station’ exhibit was visited
by 128 world leaders and 35,000 visitors, including 12,000 young
people. It was awarded first prize for outstanding contribution to the
Robert was once again charged by world leaders to continue his
mission and report back ten years later at the next World Summit for
Sustainable Development in 2012.
A Call to Action
The Cape to Rio Yacht Race
January - April 2003
As the first step to the 2012 World Summit,
Swan led a team of young African leaders
on sailboat ‘2041’ on the ‘Cape to Rio Yacht
The Circumnavigation of Africa
May 2003 - May 2004
Returning from Rio the yacht embarked
on ‘The Circumnavigation of Africa’. The
voyage promoted AIDS awareness, water
conservation and recycling while visiting
over 30 ports.
Along the route communities participated in
clean-up projects with the aim of improving
their local environment.
In his continued efforts to create young
leaders, Robert selected three young men
from ‘loveLife’ to become the first African
crew in history to circumnavigate their own
continent. They now use that story to engage
and inspire young people throughout South
Africa on AIDS awareness.
2003 to 2005
The Sydney Hobart Yacht Race
December 2004 - January 2005
Continuing on the journey toward the 2012 World Summit, sailboat ‘2041’ entered the Sydney
Hobart Yacht Race with revolutionary sails made from recycled plastic bottles.
‘2041’ was crewed by industry leaders and teachers selected for their outstanding inspiration
to young people.
Through a terrific storm the sailboat finished 24th...
...and the sails survived!
Inspire Antarctic Expeditions
Leadership on the Edge
2003 - 2009
After 23 years of sustainable leadership and teamwork experience, Robert Swan led the
first corporate expedition to Antarctica in 2003. Since then, the annual expedition consists
of up to 70 members, men and women from international industry and business, along with
teachers and young people. Team members are inspired to create extraordinary results
through leadership, teamwork and personal development.
Expedition members gain first hand knowledge of the continent’s fragile ecosystem and the
effects of climate change in Antarctica. They have the opportunity to share knowledge across
cultural boundaries, and to create essential partnerships that will drive their leadership on
strategic climate solutions upon their return.
Inspire Antarctica Expeditions - The E-Base
2003 - 2008
Robert envisioned an education base in Antarctica, a place from which the world would be
able to experience the beauty of this incredible continent electronically.
With the foresight and support of the Russian Antarctic Division, Robert’s international
team succeeded in removing 1,500 tons of waste from Antarctica. Inspired by the work of
this committed group of young people, Robert’s next project came in the form of a small,
abandoned scientists’ station, which was to become the ‘E-Base’- the world’s first education
base in Antarctica.
2003 to 2012
The dream of building the world’s first
education station in Antarctica (E-Base)
became a reality during the IAE 2002 - 2007
expeditions. Each year the IAE participants
worked to plan, build, and promote the
E-Base as a resource for teachers and a
source of inspiration to students around the
These efforts culminated in the 2008 ‘E-Base
Goes Live’ expedition, where Robert and a
small team lived at the E-Base for two weeks
powered by renewable energy. The project
produced educational dispatches from the
field that demonstrated uses of renewable
energy and sustainable living in one of the
harshest environments on Earth.
The Voyage For Cleaner Energy
The Voyage for Cleaner Energy is a world-
wide lecture series and sailing expedition
by Robert Swan and his team at 2041. The
purpose of the Voyage is to increase aware-
ness about environmental issues related to
climate change and inspire young people
to lead the way in implementing practical,
Over five years Robert journeys with sail-
boat ‘2041’ from the U.S. to Europe, Rus-
sia, India and China, talking with university
students, corporate executives, and gov-
ernment officials about their roles as lead-
ers in tackling climate change and accom-
Robert wants to spread the message that
“the time to act is now”, and he and his
team at 2041 are hoping their message will
inspire others into action on sustainable liv-
Sailboat ‘2041’ has revolutionary sails
made from recycled plastic bottles, innova-
tive solar panel sails, wind turbines, and an
engine that runs on bio-fuels. It is outfitted
with eco-friendly features and carries green
products and technology on board.
2008 to 2012
Phase I of the Voyage began on the West coast of the U.S. in April
2008 in San Francisco, California. The sailboat proceeded north to
Seattle then sailed south to Portland, Santa Cruz, San Luis Obispo,
Santa Barbara, Los Angeles and San Diego. Robert lectured at 26
universities, reaching over 30,000 students with the 2041 mission.
Continuing through all phases of the journey, Robert engages and
inspires young future leaders, addressing the key issues of climate
change and renewable energy sources that affect us all.