Robert Swan – Mission to Save Antarctica


Hi Explorer!

We are very fortunate to have a strategic partnership with Robert Swan, Barney Swan, and 2041 ClimateForce. Through this partnership each year we conduct a series of climate change and sustainability education expeditions across the planet where hundreds of participants engage on the major environmental issues that our world faces today. Who is Robert Swan, you may ask? Well, you can learn more about him in the words below.

Robert Swan Explorer

Robert Swan, OBE doesn’t consider himself an ‘explorer’. He refers to himself as a ‘survivor’. At the tender age of 11, the film “Scott of the Antarctic” left an indelible mark on his psyche; He too wanted to discover this planet in ways most people never thought to. He has walked where his passions have guided him, inspired by the great explorer Robert Falcon Scott. It’s true, it wasn’t always the most popular life choice with his family and friends, but it was his choice nonetheless. Exploring the world’s harshest environments has been his life’s purpose.

Being a survivor has meant he has got a particular drive to solve this problem – the big problem – that we are faced with as a species today. Namely, climate change. He has survived some of the earth’s most challenging environments. Environments that, as time goes on, are increasingly under threat from our own choices. We choose whether to contribute to a solution or to the problem. We choose our own future every day. But we as human beings should not put ourselves in the position of requiring extreme survival tactics on our own planet – it’s a problem we have to work together to solve. To survive!

Antarctica Expedition

Robert Swan’s first great milestone came in 1986 in the form of a 70-day walk, hauling a 350-pound sledge, to the South Pole. In Antarctica, he tested the limits of human endurance. When he arrived home, he was told there was a hole in the ozone layer – his face was burned, his eyes damaged. No wonder! He felt, first hand, the harshest environmental effects that our human lifestyle has caused.

His mission did not end there, however, and three years later, in 1989, he and his team reached the North Pole. They represented 7 different nations, a tribute to the dream of collaboration across cultures. It also made him the first person in history to walk to both the North and South poles. It gave Robert firsthand knowledge of the cumulative effects of our species on our planet. Returning home, it was the great explorer Jacques Cousteau who gave Robert Swan his next mission: to save Antarctica. No big deal!

Robert Swan 2041 Foundation

Robert Swan called it the 2041 Mission. A reference to the fact that, in 1991, a 50-year agreement was entered into to stop exploitation of Antarctica. This could be altered, changed, modified or even abandoned from the year 2041 onwards. It is because of this that the 2041 Foundation came into being. His aim is to inspire the younger generations. It is his firm belief that you have to engage people with this extraordinary place – you have to create a bond, a sense of connection and love for our planet, in a way that has never been done before. Only then can we hope to prioritize and solve this problem – the big problem – that threatens our way of life.

Robert Swan Antarctica

In that spirit, 2041 has taken over 3,500 people to the polar regions over the last 20 years. Robert Swan’s work with the 2041 Foundation is the most important of his life to date. At 2041, he aims to realize the United Nation’s Paris Agreement of 2016 to maintain global temperatures at no more than 2 degrees above pre-industrial levels. It’s an ambitious project, one that requires all of us to contribute. The notion that climate change will be a future generation’s problem is becoming increasingly untenable. But it is his dream that we as a species will learn to value our home and take care of it like never before.

The Arctic Council (which includes Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden and the US) work together to protect the Arctic as much as it is still possible to do so – promoting sustainability, working with indigenous populations to realize best practice for reducing resource consumption and carbon outputs, preserving this magnificent territory. However, much has already been lost in the Arctic. It is now Robert’s staunch belief that the future of our planet rests on the fate of Antarctica.

South Pole Energy Challenge

In November 2017, Robert Swan set out on an expedition, alongside his son Barney Swan, with the intention of demonstrating just how possible and important it is for us to invest as a society in renewable energy. Their mission to the South Pole became known as the South Pole Energy Challenge (SPEC), and Barney became the first person in history to make the 600 mile walk to the pole using only renewable energy to survive. Sadly, a hip injury forced Robert to abandon the Expedition after 300 miles. Robert Swan and Barney Swan believe that if we can survive on renewable energy in this inhospitable climate, we can do it anywhere – we can make adaptations, commit to change and rethink the way we use energy in our communities. Only by daring to push the limits of human technology and endurance, can we turn a destructive future into a much more hospitable one. Robert’s vision is one in which we all, as citizens and participants living on this planet, are contributors to making our planet the best possible environment it can be.

Climate Change

We think of the Arctic and Antarctica as being all round cold places, but NASA and the National Snow and Ice Data Center have reported sea ice declining at a rate of 13.2% per decade, with the lowest rates recorded in 2012. Despite numerous groups and councils dedicated to the preservation and sustainability of these environments, we all have to take part in the effort to reduce the effect of climate change on our planet. After all, it is our planet – another generation, another people, are not able to act for us. It’s very much up to us.

Worldwide sea levels will rise by 1 meter in the next 100 years – that’s a certainty. It’s going to happen. The preservation of Antarctica and our survival are linked. Robert Swan is adamant that we need more renewable energy in the real world, we need greater efficiency with the energy we have, and we need to eliminate the financial incentive to exploit Antarctica. Taking advantage of the ice melt must be curbed – we must not allow the removal of resources from areas that have been covered in ice for up to 100,000 years. As the ice melts, we have to ask ourselves: what is the real price we’re willing to pay? A business opportunity at the Pole will come with a much higher price than we imagine.

Sustainable Travel

In response to the severe environmental issues that our world faces today, Robert Swan and Barney Swan will return to Antarctica in November 2021 to lead a sea expedition to the Antarctic with 100 young leaders from across the planet and renew our focus on this strategic hotspot of climate change. Robert Swan believes that if we train the next generation of leaders and provide them with the proper tools and leadership coaching then we can stop the environmental degradation that is occurring.

Robert Swan says that we need to listen to what our environment is telling us. He has made a career of survival – He has sought out extreme environments and tested those limits of human endurance. He knows that what we may not realize from our homes, far from the Poles themselves, is that we in the world are in a survival circumstance. But he believes that we are being tested and that our survival means seeing a problem and doing something about it. Our time is ticking to protect Antarctica.

Trip to Antarctica

If you are interested in journeying with Robert Swan to Antarctica in November 2021, you can join us on the ClimateForce: Antarctica 2021 Expedition. To learn more please click HERE!

We look forward to sailing with you to Antarctica!


Jeff Bonaldi
The Explorer’s Passage