Robert Swan is the first person in history to walk to both the North and South Poles. Now he wants to make sure that Antarctica, the world's last great wilderness, is never exploited.

Why you should listen

Raised in Yorkshire, England, Robert Swan, OBE, is the first person in history to walk to both the North and South Poles. After seeing the effects of climate change firsthand, Swan has dedicated himself to protecting Antarctica and our planet at large. Positive participation and a committed team have enabled Swan to educate and stimulate people across the globe. 

Swan's organization, 2041 Foundation -- named for the date when the world's moratoriums on mining and drilling in Antarctica will expire -- leads expeditions of the world's most influential people to the continent in hopes that it will ignite their passion for preservation. The hope: to affect real and lasting environmental policy changes.

Swan's contribution to education and the environment have been recognized through his appointment as United Nations Environment Program Goodwill Ambassador (UNEP), United Nations Education, Science and Cultural Organization Goodwill Ambassador with Special Responsibility for Youth, and in 1994 he became Special Envoy to the Director General of UNESCO. Swan has been awarded both the Polar Medal and OBE by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and is the winner of the Humanitarian Innovation Lifetime Achievement Award.

Robert Swan’s TED talk

More news and ideas from Robert Swan


Bold expeditions: A recap of session 12 of TEDGlobal 2014

October 10, 2014

In the final session of TEDGlobal 2014, Mighty spaces, we take four journeys — three to great expanses in the world, and one into our minds and hearts: A low blue haze lights the stage as choreographer Aakash Odedra spins slowly. The light grows and his dance picks up — a mix of classical Indian […]

Continue reading
Live from TEDGlobal

Mighty Spaces: A sneak peek of session 12 at TEDGlobal 2014

October 10, 2014

This session presents speakers who are at home in awe-inspiring places. These bold explorers come bearing discoveries from the tundra and the rainforest, from beneath the ocean’s surface, and even from that most elusive of mighty spaces — the happy human heart. The speakers who’ll appear in this final session of the conference: Buddhist monk Matthieu Ricard has […]

Continue reading