Skip to content


Photograph by Enric Sala

The words, decisions, and actions of our leaders play a powerful role in creating long-standing, impactful change. The National Geographic Planetary Leadership Award recognizes a world leader who has successfully established globally significant protected areas, such as national parks, wilderness areas, or marine reserves, that are fully shielded from exploitation. Only 15 percent of our land and 7 percent of our ocean are part of officially protected areas, while our planet’s critical natural systems are increasingly under attack due to the accelerating impact of human activity and development. The bold actions of informed and inspired global leaders are vital to building a better future for our planet.


2019 Award Recipients


Danny Faure, President of Seychelles

President of the Republic of Seychelles, Danny Antoine Rollen Faure was born to Seychellois parents in Kilembe, Uganda. He completed his primary and secondary education in Seychelles and graduated with a degree in political science from the University of Havana in Cuba. Faure is a strong proponent of stronger protections for the world’s ocean. In April of this year, he gave a history-making speech—the first-ever live speech from an underwater submersible—making a global plea for stronger protection of the “beating heart of our planet.” “The issue is bigger than all of us,” he said, “and we cannot wait for the next generation to solve it.”



James Michel, Former President of Seychelles

Born in 1944 on the island of Mahé, James Alix Michel was the third president of the Republic of Seychelles. He was re-elected to serve a third and final term in office in December 2015. Just ten months into his new mandate, Michel resigned as president after proposing an amendment to the constitution limiting presidential mandates to two terms of five years. James Michel is a keen advocate for the cause of small island developing states, the preservation of the environment, the “blue economy,” and marine protected areas. The recipient of several international awards, he is also the author of several books, including Rethinking the Oceans: Towards the Blue Economy.