September 2022

Launch of £30m Central Arctic Ocean (Biodiversity) Research Programme

On 5 September 2022 we launched the first funding round for the world’s first research programme focused exclusively on the biodiversity, ecosystem and ecosystem services of the Central Arctic Ocean surrounding the North Pole.

The target is to secure £3.5m per year as soon as possible for the next eight years to deliver a £30m research effort by 2030. And why the hurry? Because we’re seriously running out of time to protect marine biodiversity in international waters.

This research is mission critical to providing the evidence underpinning the merit of protecting the region, as no conservation status will be agreed by the international community without such evidence.

Initially, the research will be undertaken exclusively through the Central Arctic Ocean Research Unit based at the University of Exeter. With a professorial chair established, s/he will develop a multi-disciplinary international research programme involving researchers from around the world.

August 2022

Special Advisory Panel

Prof Dan Laffoley (Bt), previously the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN’s) Principal Advisor to the UN Global & Polar Oceans Conservation Programme, has kindly made his expertise available throughout the formative phase of the 90 North Foundation. We are honoured and absolutely delighted Prof Laffoley has confirmed his acceptance to become the first advisor on the Foundation’s Special Advisory Panel.

Laffoley is a well-respected leading global expert on ocean conservation, and is currently Emeritus Marine Vice Chair of the (IUCN)’s World Commission on Protected Areas (WCPA). He also chairs the Hope Spot Council, and is an Emeritus Board Member of Mission Blue. In March 2021 Dan was awarded the Fred Packard Award by IUCN and WCPA in recognition of having dedicated his life and career to conservation, and especially as an outstanding and inspiring figure in global marine protected areas.

Prior to these appointments and up until 2022 Dan was Principal Advisor, Marine Science and Conservation for the IUCN’s Global Marine & Polar Programme, and held the global honorary role as Marine Vice Chair for the WCPA for 17 years, providing a world-wide lead on ocean protection. For over 35 years Dan has been responsible for the creation of many national, European and global partnerships and alliances that underpin modern-day marine conservation. He served as chief scientific advisor for the marine environment in Natural England, for over a decade headed-up the marine conservation programme for English Nature and has also worked in a variety of other roles including special marine environmental advisor for the Prime Minister Tony Blair’s Strategy Unit, and for the European Commission.

June 2022

Formation of the Central Arctic Ocean Research Unit

Prof Brendan Godley, (previously the University of Exeter’s Director of the Centre for Ecology & Conservation) set in motion the next step in the University of Exeter’s collaboration with the 90 North Foundation by securing approval to set up a specific unit, the Central Arctic Ocean Research Unit, to deliver the research. Some of its researchers will be based in the University’s stunning new Stella Turk Building (see above).

Within weeks over 30 scientists from several of the University’s faculties had responded to his notification of its formation, each offering to deliver research through our new research unit. Since then, fifteen professors and researchers have submitted research projects under the seven research themes: Changing Oceanography; Ecosystem; Habitats; Biodiversity; Ecosystem Services; Emerging Impacts & Threats; and Governance & Conservation Policy.

November 2021

Speech at UNFCCC COP26 (Green Zone)

Savills plc hosted an event in the Green Zone of COP26 (Glasgow) focused on the urgency for owners to strive to reach net carbon zero for their built and rural estates.

Savills is highly focused on this issue with its in-house team of over 120 sustainability experts working within its Savills Earth facility. One of the contributors to their COP26 event was Pen Hadow who gave a talk about the world’s fastest changing environment, the Central Arctic Ocean, and the existential threats this was causing not only to the region’s wildlife and the ecosystem services it provides, but to the UK and the wider global community. The video recording of the talk, made available on Savills’ online channel, received its highest recorded viewership – and inspired a number of organisation’s to approach Savills for an introduction to the 90 North Foundation.

July 2021

First Corporate Supporter - Polar Capital Partners

Within weeks of its registration as a charity in May 2021, the Foundation has reached out to Polar Capital Partners, an early corporate supporter of Pen Hadow’s Catlin Arctic Survey in 2009. The management team swiftly decided to support the vision and work of the nascent 90 North Foundation. However the consequences of COVID-19 throughout the UK economy has delayed the launch of the Foundation’s first major initiative, its Central Arctic Ocean biodiversity research programme, by one year to mid-2022. So the Foundation is especially appreciative of Polar Capital Partners’ patience as we get underway.

NB. Catlin Arctic Survey was undertaking sea-ice thickness measurements, working with Prof Peter Wadhams (Dept of Applied Mathematics & Theoretical Physics, Cambridge University) to assess the volume of sea-ice cover on the Arctic Ocean, and thereby fine-tune forecasts for sea-ice loss.

May 2021

Collaboration with University of Exeter

Prof Sir Steve Smith, former Vice-Chancellor of the University of Exeter, hosted one of the University’s alumni events in London when he heard Pen Hadow (holder of an Honorary Doctorate of Laws from the University), speak about his vision for the 90 North Foundation. Just three weeks later Sir Steve set up a meeting for Hadow with his senior management team to agree how they could provide research support. It was agreed a number of research posts, including a professorial chair, doctorates (PhDs) and Masters of Research, would be offered to the Foundation up to 40% below the full economic cost to the University, if the Foundation could secure the balance for each post.

It was Sir Steve’s leadership that proved critical. On realising the University’s vision to build its marine research capability to solve real world issues was closely aligned with the 90 North Foundation’s vision to undertake research to build the case for conservation of the Central Arctic Ocean, he inspired the start of our collaboration. His successor, Prof Lisa Roberts, wrote of her support of the collaboration as recently as July 2022.

The University’s marine research faculty is currently ranked fifth in the world, and has its sights set on further improving this ranking.