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The Princess of Asturias Foundation

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Premios Princesa de Asturias


Sylvia A. Earle, Princess of Asturias Award for Concord

American oceanographer Sylvia A. Earle has been bestowed with the 2018 Princess of Asturias Award for Concord, as announced today in Oviedo by the Jury responsible for conferring said Award. 


American oceanographer Sylvia A. Earle has been bestowed with the 2018 Princess of Asturias Award for Concord, as announced today in Oviedo by the Jury responsible for conferring said Award.

The Jury for this Award –convened by the Princess of Asturias Foundation– was chaired by Javier Fernández Fernández, President of the Principality of Asturias, and composed of Íñigo Abarca Junco, Fernando de Almansa Moreno-Barreda, Viscount of Castillo de Almansa, Ernesto Antolín Arribas, Antonio Basagoiti García-Tuñón, Santiago Bergareche Busquet, Carlos Casanueva Varas, Sol Daurella Comadrán, José Manuel Entrecanales Domecq, Isidro Fainé Casas, Ana Isabel Fernández Álvarez, Pedro Luis Fernández Pérez, José Antonio Fernández Rivero, Luis Fernández-Vega Sanz, Ignacio Garralda Ruiz de Velasco, Alicia Koplowitz Romero de Juséu, Marchioness of Bellavista, Wenceslao López Martínez, Laureano Lourido Artime, Teresa Mallada de Castro, César José Menéndez Claverol, José Oliu i Creus, María del Pino Calvo-Sotelo, Mariano Puig Planas, Helena Revoredo de Gut, Matías Rodríguez Inciarte, Pedro Sanjurjo González, Andreas Schierenbeck, Antonio Suárez Gutiérrez, Gonzalo Urquijo y Fernández de Araoz, Manuel Villa-Cellino Torre, Juan Miguel Villar Mir and Adolfo Menéndez Menéndez (as acting secretary).

This candidature was put forward by Amador Menéndez Velázquez, Jury member for the 2018 Princess of Asturias Award for Technical and Scientific Research.

Sylvia A. Earle (Gibbstown, New Jersey, USA, 1935) made her first underwater dive at seventeen years of age and is still active today. A graduate of Florida State University, she earned her PhD from Duke University, subsequently carrying out research at the California Academy of Sciences and at the University of California at Berkeley, the Radcliffe Institute and Harvard University. Member of the Presidential Advisory Committee on Oceans and the Atmosphere between 1980 and 1984, in 1985 she founded Deep Ocean Engineering, a company that designs, leads and provides support and advice on robotic submarine systems. She subsequently established the marine consulting firm Deep Ocean Exploration and Research (DOER) in the nineties. She was appointed chief scientist of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration of the United States in 1990, a position she held for two years. She is currently Rosemary and Roger Enrico Chair for Ocean Exploration and an explorer-in-residence of the National Geographic Society (NGS)–2006 Prince of Asturias Award for Communication and Humanities– and founder president of The Sylvia Earle Alliance (SEAlliance)/Mission Blue, which she launched in 2008. She is also a member of several councils, foundations and committees related to marine research and conservation.

Oceanographer, researcher, manager and teacher, Sylvia A. Earle, known as ‘Her Deepness’, has dedicated her life to exploring and researching the seabed and the conservation of the oceans. She has participated in more than one hundred expeditions all over the world and has more than 7,000 hours of research-related diving under her belt. In 1970, she headed the first team of ‘aquanaut’ women during the Tektite Project, who lived for two weeks at a depth of 18 metres off the Virgin Islands. She also set a record for solo diving in 1,000-metres depth. Between 1998 and 2002, she led the Sustainable Seas Expeditions, a programme to study the United States National Marine Sanctuaries. From SEAlliance, she has joined forces with different institutions, such as the International Union for Conservation of Nature –1988 Prince of Asturias Award for Concord laureate–, to achieve the expansion of marine protected areas and the cataloguing of others, called ‘Hope Spots’, in need of urgent protection. This project is implemented through Mission Blue, a global initiative that brings together more than 200 organizations, support groups, private companies and research teams to reduce the impact of fishing activities and promote the creation of protected areas.

Author of more than 200 publications, Earle has also written books such as Sea Change, A Message of the Oceans (1996), Wild Ocean (1999), National Geographic Atlas of the Ocean (2001), The World Is Blue: How Our Fate and the Ocean’s Are One (2009)–2010 Stevens Institute of Technology Green Book Award laureate– and Blue Hope (2014). She participates in television productions and has given lectures in more than 90 countries. The documentary Mission Blue, which reviews her career, won the 2015 News & Documentary Emmy Award for Outstanding Editing-Documentary and Long Form.

Holder of more than 25 honorary degrees and recognized by the United States Library of Congress as a ‘Living Legend’, she was called a ‘Hero for the Planet’ by Time magazine in 1998. Among other distinctions, she has received the John M. Olguin Marine Environment Award (USA, 1997), the Spanish Geographic Society’s International Award (2006) and the TED Prize (USA, 2009). Named a ‘Champion for the Earth’ by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP, 2014), she has also received the NGS Hubbard Medal (USA, 2013), the Patron’s Medal of the Royal Geographical Society (United Kingdom, 2011), the Rachel Carson Prize (Norway, 2017), the Perfect World Foundation’s Award (Sweden, 2017) and the Seattle Aquarium Lifetime Achievement Award (USA, 2017).

As stated in the Regulations, the Princess of Asturias Awards are aimed at rewarding “the scientific, technical, cultural, social and humanitarian work carried out at an international level by individuals, institutions or groups of individuals or institutions”. In keeping with these principles, the Princess of Asturias Award for Concord shall be aimed at recognizing “the work of defending and advancing human rights, as well as promoting and protecting peace, freedom, solidarity, world heritage and, in general, the progress of humanity.”

This year, a total of 37 candidatures from 23 different countries were put forward for the award.

This is the last of the eight Princess of Asturias Awards to be bestowed this year, in what is now their 38th edition. Previously, the Princess of Asturias of the Arts Award went to American filmmaker Martin Scorsese, the Award for Communication and Humanities to Mexican journalist Alma Guillermoprieto, the Award for International Cooperation to Amref Health Africa, the Award for Sports to mountaineers Reinhold Messner (Italy) and Krzysztof Wielicki (Poland), the Award for Literature to French writer Fred Vargas, the Award for Social Sciences to American philosopher Michael J. Sandel and the Award for Technical and Scientific Research to Swedish biologist Svante Pääbo.

Each of the Princess of Asturias Awards comprises a Joan Miró sculpture – representing and symbolizing the Awards–, a cash prize of 50,000 euros, a diploma and an insignia.

The Awards will be presented in the autumn in Oviedo at a grand ceremony chaired by TM the King and Queen of Spain.

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