Robert Swan is a polar explorer, environmentalist and the first man ever to walk unsupported to both the North and South Poles. He is an exceptionally gifted communicator and is regarded as one of the world’s top motivational speakers.

The greatest threat to our planet is the belief that someone else will save it

Robert Swan, OBE

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Robert Swan, OBE, BA, FRGS

Robert Swan is a polar explorer, environmentalist and the first man ever to walk unsupported to both the North and South Poles. He is an exceptionally gifted communicator and is regarded as one of the world’s top motivational speakers.

He compares his icy experiences to boardroom maneuvers and his inspirational addresses have received the acclaim of discerning audiences worldwide. His contribution to education and the environment have been recognized through his appointment as UN Goodwill Ambassador for Youth, a Visiting Professorship of the School of Environment at Leeds University and in 1994 he became Special Envoy to the Director General of UNESCO.

He was awarded the OBE in 1995. In 2003 and 2004, Robert and his company, 2041, delivered the first ever corporate Antarctic Expeditions on teamwork and leadership. Through positive participation and real missions, the unique insights and lessons he has learned, have enabled Robert Swan to educate and stimulate his audiences.

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Robert Swan has earned his place alongside the great explorers and adventurers that have tested their physical and mental strength to the limit in the planet’s most hostile environments.

As with the great explorers and adventurers in history, Robert Swan is the first man in history to walk to both the North and South Poles. The successful completion of his North and South Pole expeditions marked the beginning of a new phase in his life. On both expeditions, he experienced, firsthand, the effects of environmental damage on the Polar icecaps. This shaped Swan’s lifetime goal – to work for the preservation of the Antarctic as the last great wilderness on earth. He then founded 2041, an organization dedicated to this goal. With his presence and integrity, accomplishments and reflections, Robert Swan has an extraordinary ability to move people and motivate audiences.

It is through his expeditions and lectures that Swan works to inform, engage and inspire the next generation of leaders to take responsibility, be sustainable, and know that now is the time for action in policy development, sustainable business generation and future technologies.

Inspirational Speaker

One of the world’s greatest explorers, Robert Swan OBE is the first person in history to walk to both the North and South Poles. With his presence and integrity, accomplishments and reflections, Robert has an extraordinary ability to inspire and motivate audiences worldwide. Having experienced leadership and team cooperation in some of the world’s most hostile environments, Robert applies the leadership lessons he has learned to inspire bold management practices and effective communication styles.

Robert’s talks are thrilling, uplifting and stimulating – all while fostering courage, vision and teamwork. His core themes are inspiration, leadership and future thinking for business, society and the environment:

Inspiration – Robert has shown through his expeditions to both Poles that individuals have the power to overcome obstacles and achieve their goals – whatever these may be – through perseverance, determination and commitment.

Leadership – Robert highlights how great feats are rarely achieved by individuals in isolation; more often, it is a team effort. Robert emphasizes the importance of strategic decision making.

Sustainability – As an environmental leader, Robert takes climate change and the protection of Antarctica as the burning platform. Robert engages audiences on what it takes to be the leader and predecessor in creating new models and sustainable solutions for the future.


Shell staff have participated in 2041 expeditions since 2009 and we have been pleased to have Robert Swan visit us as a speaker on more than one occasion. He and the 2041 team offer a unique proposition for business; real world awareness, advice and guidance blended with pragmatism and a strong sense of environmental stewardship.

David Hone, Chief Climate Change Adviser, Shell Research Ltd

From the moment one hears Robert speak, it is clear to see how his passion and determination drive him. Robert is a compelling leader and example for the rest of us to learn from, pushing us to reassess what limitations we put in front of ourselves and the obstacles we deem too great to overcome. A truly inspiring man behind an admirable and noble mission.

Nik Whitfield, CEO, Panaseer

There’s a deep irony in having Robert speak. He’s totally inspiring and my staff were really moved by his story telling and the way he approaches his unique type of environmentalism with understatement, humility and humour. But the thing is, Robert doesn’t really hold with lecturing his audience or talking about the problems he highlights but, instead, inspiring change by rolling up your sleeves and actually doing something about the huge problems facing the planet with even small steps. There’s no excuse relative to the extraordinary lengths he has gone to highlight them.

Angus Buchanan, Co-founder, The Sports Consultancy

As the embodiment of perseverance and determination, Robert Swan is much more than a polar explorer; he’s a lesson to us all about the power of the human spirit. His mission reminds us all to protect what matters most, no matter the cost, and acts as a constant reminder to move beyond what we believe is possible. We all should strive to guide our own lives with a similar passion and purpose as Swan.

Mike Ettling, CEO, Unit4

Awards, Achievements, Honours & Publications


International Arctic Expedition


Winner of UN NOVUS Award for contributing to 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG)

South Pole Energy Challenge


Winner of the Humanitarian Innovation Lifetime Achievement Award


TEDxGlobal Speaker, "Let's Save the Last Pristine Continent," Rio de Janeiro, Brazil


Annual International Antarctic Expeditions


"Voyage for Cleaner Energy"


“Antarctica 2041: My Quest to Save the Earth’s Last Wilderness” published by Broadway Books and authored by Swan and Gil Reavill


Torchbearer of the 2008 Summer Olympics torch relay in St. Petersburg, Russia

E-base goes live


Honorary Fellow at St. Chad’s College, Durham University (UK)


Awarded “Freedom of the City of London”


Awarded the European Union “Ambassador for the Environment”


“2041: The Voyage South” published by Hayloft Publishing


Smithsonian Award for the Information Technology in Education & Academia (USA)


Awarded OBE by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II


Appointed Special Envoy to the Director General of UNESCO


Doctorate of Letters, The Robert Gordon University (UK)


Appointed United Nations Education/Science and Cultural Organization Goodwill

Ambassador with Special Responsibility for Youth (UNESCO)

Visiting Professor of the School of Environment, Leeds Metropolitan University (UK)


Winner of the United Nations Global 500 award

“Icewalk” published by Icewalk Features


Appointed United Nations Environment Program Goodwill Ambassador (UNEP)


Swan was awarded the Polar Medal by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

“Destination: Antarctica” published by Scholastic, Inc.


“In the Footsteps of Scott” published by Jonathon Cape and authored by Swan and Roger Mear