Robert Charles Swan, OBE, BA,
FRGSwas born on 28 July 1956in Durham, Englandand attended Sedbergh School(1969-1974) before completing a BA in Ancient History(1976-1979) at St Chad's College, Durham University. He is currently an advocate for the protection of Antarcticaand renewable energy. Swan is also the presidentof [http://www.2041.com 2041] , a company which is dedicated to the preservation of the Antarctic.
Early Years (1956 - 1984)
Swan's interest in
polar explorationbegan at school in Englandwhere, at the age of eleven, he became inspired by the " Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration" (1895 - 1917) and the race to the South Polebetween Ernest Shackletonand Roald Amundsen. It was Scott's tragic final journey to the South Polethat inspired Swan's commitment to follow in his footsteps to the Pole.
In 1979, Swan began to raise the necessary funds to reach the Pole. It took him five years of planning and fund raising to reach the $5 million he needed for the expedition. He procured a ship, the 'Southern Quest', and convinced 25 people to give up three years of their lives to implement the project.
During that time, Swan lived in a warehouse in
Londonwhilst signing up some 2,000 sponsors and assembled a team that included Roger Mear and Gareth Wood as fellow travelers to the South Pole.
"In the Footsteps of Scott" (1984 - 1987)
"Southern Quest" set sail on
November 3, 1984 to travel the convert|14842|nmi|km to Antarctica. The expedition stopped over in Lyttleton, New Zealandto meet Bill Burton, who at 96 years old was the last surviving member of Scott's expedition in 1912. Swan's initial Antarcticexpedition was thus officially dubbed "In the Footsteps of Scott". Upon arrival on the frozen continent, Swan and his team spent the Antarcticwinter at the ' Jack Hayward' base with colleagues John Tolson and Dr. Michael Stroud. When the winter had passed, Swan, Mear, and Wood set out to walk convert|900|mi|km to the South Pole. They arrived at the South Poleon 11 January 1986, after 70 days without the aid of any radio communicationsor back-up support and having hauled convert|350|lb|abbr=on sledges. Swan's team had achieved the longest unassisted march ever made in history. Once at the pole, they received the bad news that their ship, 'Southern Quest' had been crushed by pack ice and had sunk. There was much criticism of the adventure from the scientists working in Antarcticaas time and money had to be spent in flying some of the party back out to New Zealand. However, Swan returned in 1987 with a ship to collect the rest of the team at ' Jack Hayward' base and to remove all traces of his expedition, i.e., rubbish and remaining stores.
The North Pole (1987 - 1989)
Three years after reaching the
South Pole, Swan assembled a team of eight people from seven nations for an attempt at the North Pole. The team consisted of Dr. Misha Malakhov from Russia, Rupert Summerson of the UK, Graeme Joy of Australia, Arved Fuchsof Germany, Hiroshi Onishi from Japan, Angus Cockney of the Inuit, and Daryl E. Roberts of the USA. The expedition was called "Icewalk". Icewalk's base campheld 22 representatives from 15 different nations. They produced a series of educational films there and facilitated the removal of rubbish from the surrounding Arcticwilderness. Swan and his team reached the North Poleon 14 May 1989. The team nearly drowned during their expedition to the North Pole, due to the unseasonable melting of Arcticice. Their journey made Swan the first man to walk to both the North and South poles.
From Earth Summit to World Summit (1992 - 2002)
In 1992, Swan was invited by the
United Nationsto be a keynote speaker to the first Earth Summitfor Sustainable Development, held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. In response to the world leaders' challenge to "think global act local", Swan made a commitment to deliver a global and local environmental mission involving industry, business, and young people to the next World Summitin 2002.
In 1996-97 he organized One Step Beyond, The
South PoleChallenge, which brought 35 young adventurers from 25 nations together in Antarctica. They came together to define the global mission that Swan had been tasked with at the Earth Summit. The mission was to remove and recycle 1,500 tons of waste that had been left at Bellinghausenstation in Antarcticaafter decades of scientific research. The team worked for eight years to raise the money, plan, and execute the mission. The rubbish at the Russian base of Bellinghausen, King George Island, was finally cleared and the native penguinsreclaimed their beach for the first time in 47 years. After the cleanup, Swan noticed a small, disused scientists' station on the horizon at King George Island. It sparked an idea that generated the concept of the "E-base" -- the world's first education station in Antarctica.
Having fulfilled the challenge for a global mission by cleaning up
Bellinghausenstation, Swan turned his efforts to a local mission. In 2002, Swan and his '2041' sailboat embarked on the longest overland 'voyage' in history. The voyage's destination was the 2002 World Summitfor Sustainable Developmentin Johannesburg, South Africa. Swan partnered with 'loveLife' -- a charity battling AIDSin South Africa.
The 'voyage' reached out to over 750,000 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 World Summit.
Swan was once again charged by the world leaders to continue his mission and report back at the next
World Summitfor Sustainable Development, ten years later, in 2012.
'2041' and Inspire Antarctic Expeditions (2003 - 2008)
Swan's 67' foot racing yacht '2041' is named after the year in which the '
Madrid Protocol' comes up for debate. The protocol, signed by nearly every nation, provides additional protection for the Antarctic Treatyand designates the continent as "a Natural Reserve Land for Science and Peace". It also places a ban on mining and mineral exploration in Antarcticafor 50 years (1991 - 2041).
The Cape to Rio Yacht Race, January - April 2003
As the first step to the 2012
World Summit, Swan brought a team of young Africanleaders on '2041' for the " Cape to Rio Yacht Race".
The Circumnavigation of Africa, May 2003 - May 2004
Returning from the Rio, the yacht embarked on "The
Circumnavigationof Africa". The voyage promoted AIDSawareness, water saving, and recyclingwhilst visiting over 30 ports.
Along the route, communities came out in force to participate in clean-up projects with the aim of improving their immediate environment. Three young men from 'loveLife' were chosen by Swan to become the first
Africancrew in history to circumnavigate their own continent.
The Sydney Hobart Yacht Race, December 2004 - January 2005
Continuing on her journey towards the 2012
World Summit, Swan entered sailboat '2041' in the Sydney Hobart Yacht Racewith the world's first sails made entirely from recycled plastic (PET) bottles. '2041' was crewed by industry leaders and teachers selected for their outstanding inspiration for young people. The sailboat finished 24th in the race.
Inspire Antarctic Expeditions, 2003 - present
After 23 years of sustainable leadership and teamwork experience, Swan led the first corporate expedition to
Antarcticain 2003. The expedition members witnessed firsthand the effects of climate change in Antarctica. They were tasked by Swan to become leaders in sustainabilityupon their return home. Between the 2003 - 2007 expeditions, Swan's dream of building the E-base became a reality. Each successive year's expedition members helped plan, build, and promote the E-base -- the world's first education station in Antarcticato be used as a resource for teachers and young people from around the world.
The E-base and the Voyage for Cleaner Energy, 2008 - present
"The E-base Goes Live", March 2008
Powered entirely on
renewable energy, Swan and a small team lived and sent broadcasts from the E-base via the internetfor two weeks. It was the first time in history that a team had attempted to survive in Antarcticarelying solely on renewable energy. Their mission was successful, and the team departed the continent after the allotted two weeks in good health.
The Voyage for Cleaner Energy, April 2008 - present
April 8, 2008, the Voyage for Cleaner Energy and '2041' sailboat launched from San Francisco, California. '2041' was refitted to operate entirely on wind, solar, and biodieselgenerated energy. '2041' and Swan engaged in a multi-city tour of the West Coast of the USAto highlight renewable energyand engage the youth of the world to take positive steps toward renewable, sustainable energypractices. April 8, 2008was officially deemed "Robert Swan Day" in San Franciscoat the bequest of Mayor Gavin Newsom.
Awards, Honors & Publications
*1987 Swan was awarded the
Polar Medalby Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II
*1987 "In the Footsteps of Scott" published by Jonathon Cape, authored by Swan and Robert Mear
*1988 "Destination: Antarctica" published by Scholastic, Inc.
*1989 Official Flag Bearer for the
Explorers Clubof New Yorkto the North Pole(USA)
United Nations Environment Program Goodwill Ambassador( UNEP)
*1990 Winner of the
United NationsGlobal 500 award
*1990 "Icewalk" published by Icewalk Features
United NationsEducation/Science and Cultural Organization Goodwill Ambassadorwith Special Responsibility for Youth ( UNESCO)
*1992 Visiting Professor of the School of Environment,
Leeds Metropolitan University( UK)
*1993 Founded the Robert Swan Foundation - a registered charity for the promotion of youth and scientific endeavors in the environment
*1993 Doctorate of Letters, The
Robert Gordon University( UK)
*1994 Appointed Special Envoy to the Director General of
*1995 Awarded OBE by Her Majesty
Queen Elizabeth II
Smithsonian Awardfor the Information technology in Education & Academia (USA)
*2000 Honorary Member of the Amstel Club,
*2000 "2041: The Voyage South" published by Hayloft Publishing
*2002 Vice President of the Countryside Management Association (
*2005 Awarded '
Freedom of the City of London'
*2005 Elected, by membership vote, Honorary President of '
The Ski Club of Great Britain'
*2006 Honorary Fellow at
St. Chad's College, Durham University( UK)
April 5 2008torchbearer of the 2008 Summer Olympics torch relayin St Petersburg, Russia[ [http://www.kp.ru/daily/24075/312208/ Kp.Ru // Нкхлохияйхи Нцнмэ Онмеяср Дпсгэ, Тпеимдкху Х Окчыемйн ] ]
* [http://www.2041.com 2041.com]
* [http://www.2041.com/SwanCV.pdf Robert Swan CV]
* [http://gdl.cdlr.strath.ac.uk/scotia/gooant/gooant0207.htm Robert Swan Expedition 1984-85]
* [http://www.londonspeakerbureau.co.uk/Robert_Swan.aspx Robert Swan profile]
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