Pen Hadow wins the 2023 Shackleton Medal for the Protection of the Polar Regions

Record-breaking explorer and conservationist, Pen Hadow, has been awarded the Shackleton Medal for the Protection of the Polar Regions.

Written by Oceanographic Staff
Photographs by Martin Hartley

Launched in January 2022, 100 years after the death of Sir Ernest Shackleton, the award recognises Hadow’s decades-long commitment to protect the central Arctic Ocean and his latest initiative to establish a Marine Protected Area in the region. 

Hadow is a renowned British explorer who has completed several solo expeditions to the North Pole, including the first-ever solo, unaided trek from Canada to the North Pole in 2003. He was also the first Briton to reach both the North and South Geographic Poles from their respective continental coastlines, without resupply by third parties.

Hadow is the founder of the 90North Foundation, which, in partnership with Exeter University’s marine research faculty, is at the forefront of efforts to protect the Arctic Ocean from evolving threats (shipping, oil & gas exploration, militarisation) arising from the disappearance of sea ice. As well as direct campaigning, his work is focused on providing governments, NGOs and corporates with the scientific evidence needed to help bring about the world’s largest Marine Protected Area in the central Arctic Ocean by 2030, which would safeguard the region’s biodiversity and provide a vital habitat for marine life.

The Shackleton Medal is awarded to individuals who show leadership, courage, ingenuity and determination in service of polar protection. Having spent many years of his life in the Arctic, Pen Hadow has devoted himself to its safekeeping and seeks to achieve a similar level of protection for the newly accessible Central Arctic Ocean that Antarctica enjoys via the Antarctic Treaty. We think he is a tough, committed and worthy winner; we are certain the Boss, Sir Ernest, would agree.” said Martin Brooks, co-founder of British expeditional and apparel brand Shackleton. 

Hadow‘s receipt of the Shackleton Medal is a testament to his dedication and courage in protecting the polar regions and serves as an inspiration to others to continue the fight to preserve our planet’s most fragile ecosystems. In addition to the silver medal itself, he will receive £10,000 to further his work with the 90North Foundation. 

The winner was decided from a long-list of over fifty and a shortlist of five at a judging ceremony at the Royal Geographical Society. The panel is made up of experts and academics from a range of polar-related fields and includes the historian Dan Snow, Martin Siegert, Alexandra Shackleton, Sebastian Copeland and others, chaired by astrobiologist and author Professor Lewis Dartnell.

The number of nominees had doubled from the previous year and included pioneering climate activists, geologists, ice core scientists, polar historians, diversity campaigners, online educators, explorers, marine biologists, roboticists, writers, film directors, photographers, artificial intelligence experts, investigative journalists, diplomats and more.

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Written by Oceanographic Staff
Photographs by Martin Hartley

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