Ben Fogle named United Nations’ Patron of the Wilderness

By Francesca Gosling, Press Association

Ben Fogle has said environmental conservation has been his “life’s work” as he was named as the United Nations’ Patron of the Wilderness.

The role will allow the broadcaster and adventurer to highlight the pressure and impact on the wildest corners of the world.

Ben Fogle (Jonathan Brady/PA)

He will also help in the development of global outreach programmes and use expeditions to draw attention to the effect of humanity on the environment.

He told the Press Association: “I’ve spent the last 25 years travelling pretty extensively; this year alone I’ve already been to more than 40 countries and their most remote wildernesses, that’s always the focus of my work.

“So I have a unique insight into every type of wilderness across the planet, from mountains to jungles, to savannahs.

Swimming in the Serpentine (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

“I have seen first hand is what we all hear about constantly, it’s our exploitation of it through use of farming et cetera. I’ve seen the impact and the pressures faced by the remote wilderness that doesn’t even hit the headlines.”

Fogle said his newly created role, which will complement that of Lewis Pugh, the UN Environment Patron of the Oceans, will also involve a certain amount of “guilting”.

He said: “The reality is that human consumption will never really change a great deal, we are always going to have a need for resources.

Ben Fogle (Lauren Hurley/PA)

“There has to be a bit of guilting, and it works in certain scenarios, but what I really want my role to be is to empower people.

“Too often people feel they just can’t make a difference and that our impact on the planet is so massive that it’s impossible to actually do something.

“But by highlighting things through adventure and showing people the beauty of our wilderness, I hope that younger generations can actually feel proud of what they have and want to care and protect it, and realise that we don’t have to put a value on everything.”

He continued: “This is my life’s work. It has taken me 43 years to finally find the role which can actually make a difference to the world.

Adventurer Ben Fogle with his wife Marina and children Iona (left) and Ludo (right) in 2012 (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

“I imagine it’s going to take up a huge amount of my time. My family are incredibly supportive and proud. I am away a little bit too much – up to eight months a year – but we travel a great deal together.

“It’s really important as my kids grow up that I encourage them to celebrate nature and the outdoors.

“I have had such an extraordinary 20 years – living on an island for a year, travelling to some of the most remote communities and meeting some extraordinary people – when you become a father you try to make sense of why you’ve done all of that.

Ben Fogle and son Ludo (Doug Peters/PA)

“I hadn’t been able to join all the dots and make sense of it, but I think now suddenly with this role it makes sense, that I can give a voice to the wilderness.

“The world is facing untold pressures in every direction, both humanitarian and environmental, and often they are ignored. This is the biggest highlight (of my career) of them all.”

Erik Solheim, head of UN Environment, said: “Ben has done amazing things to bring the spectacular, rugged beauty of the world’s wildest places to our screens.

“But it’s also a journey that has shown us that even the most remote
corners of the planet are under threat.

“We’re delighted that Ben will be joining us to focus more attention to the conservation cause, and most of all to inspire even greater global action.”

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