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Are you passionate about conserving the natural world?
Do you have a burning desire to drive conservation efforts around the world to create a brighter future?
Are you aged between 18-25 years old?

The DARWIN200 team is in the process of selecting 200 of the world’s most capable, young (18–25 year old) naturalists and conservationists.

We are searching for the very best candidate from each of 200 different countries and states around the world, representing at least 50 different languages and cultures.

DARWIN LEADERS

The young people we are searching for are very special.

Our selection criteria are not based on academic qualifications. In fact, it does not even matter if candidates can read or write.

What we are looking for is the raw, burning passion to protect the natural world – the innate spirit to conserve wildlife and change the future for the better.

In particular, we are looking for candidates that show determination and ingenuity to think laterally to solve problems.

The youngsters we are looking for may have planted trees under their own initiative to reforest a landscape, to save a critically endangered animal or plant. Or they may have set up a rare species breeding programme.

One inspiring example being Fred Burton in the Cayman Islands, who stubbornly refused to allow the endemic blue iguana to become extinct. Even though the population of blue iguanas had fallen to a few dozen individuals in the wild and was on a path to being wiped out within a few years, Fred captured the last individuals from the wild, set up a breeding programme in concrete pits (without any support of funding), and after a decade of breeding and releasing, there are not over 2,000 blue iguanas back in nature!

The essence of conservation is this stubborn determination. The refusal to allow species to slip off the cliff of extinction despite all odds and challenges.

This is the quality that the DARWIN200 team is searching the world for.

Once selected, the world’s 200 top young conservationists will be invited to join the DARWIN200 tall ship, in groups of four, for one week at a time, based in one of the ports Charles Darwin visited along the HMS Beagle route. They will complete a very focused training programme. Note: all costs for DARWIN LEADERS are fully covered by the DARWIN200 Project (including flights).

During their placements on the DARWIN200 tall ship, these young conservationists will receive intense training, support from some of the world’s top environmentalists, and the opportunity to study wildlife and design projects to hone their skills. Each youngster will be upskilled and empowered so that, by the time they leave the ship, they will have become elite DARWIN LEADERS.

Environmental Decision-Makers of Tomorrow

It is our hope that the DARWIN LEADERS will lead environmental efforts over their life-long careers (spanning decades), becoming the environmental decision-makers in the world of tomorrow, and the catalysts to change the future of Planet Earth for the better.

In 2026, at the end of the DARWIN200 voyage, all DARWIN LEADERS will be invited (with all costs covered) to London for an award ceremony event to celebrate their work and achievements during the DARWIN200 voyage!

The objective of the DARWIN200 project is to create a living legacy of 200 elite DARWIN LEADERS in 200 countries and states around the world.

It is our hope that the DARWIN LEADERS will lead environmental efforts over their life-long careers (spanning decades), becoming the environmental decision-makers in the world of tomorrow, and the catalysts to change the future of Planet Earth for the better.

The activities that will be undertaken on board our ship are carefully designed to train the DARWIN LEADERS in specific ways, namely; how to think, how to problem-solve, how to develop solutions and (just as importantly), how to communicate results to audiences across the globe. See summary of their activities below.

In 2026, at the end of the DARWIN200 voyage, all DARWIN LEADERS will be invited (with all costs covered) to London for an award ceremony event to celebrate their work and achievements during the DARWIN200 voyage!

We’re inviting top young conservationist from each country to fly to one of the ports that Charles Darwin visited, to join DARWIN200’s floating laboratory, to have a life-changing experience to inspire, empower to change their lives and give them the skills they need to help change the world of tomorrow.

World-renowned
experts to leverage

During their stays onboard, each DARWIN LEADER will be immersed in an intensive, life-changing program of science, natural history and conservation training that will be carefully crafted to hone research skills and sustainable-management thinking. It is hoped that each leader will show considerable initiative to undertake their placement activities, and potentially yield real discoveries, publishable data and new findings.

Under the guidance of their DARWIN MENTOR, an onboard team of globally-renowned conservation experts, active PhD researchers and professional wildlife film-makers, each of the DARWIN LEADERS will engage in their own active research

projects, experiments and fieldwork, to explore a subject Charles Darwin himself studied and analyse what changes have occurred since Darwin’s time, and what solutions and conservation strategies are required for sustainable management and survival.

For example, it could be that a DARWIN200 Leader goes to the Galapagos and chooses Frigate birds as their DARWIN200 project. During the week on the ship they will use it as a floating resource to study the Frigate birds of the islands, look at the impact of their populations, find out the reasons and the causes behind those changes and find / put forward solutions to help save problems that they identify.

Darwin-Leader-Dark-green Output

Field study

At the end of their stay, each Leader will present a two-page written report for release online on the DARWIN200 website.

Mini-documentary

to be released on YouTube and this website at the end of their stay, each DARWIN LEADER will film, narrate, edit and release a short (circa 5-minute) film summarising their field study activities, findings and conservation/management recommendations for the future. Guidance will be offered by professional film-makers on board the ship including use of drones to make raw footage and they will provide all the tool to edit and cut a story

Research

DARWIN LEADERS are encouraged to engage in the real research programs and experiments being undertaken on board the ship to experience and communicate modern-day discoveries.

Live stream lectures

Each leader will define their own subject, which could be a summary of their experiences on board the ship, evaluation of their field study findings, reflections on making a mini-documentary, or commentary on the research projects that they followed. The live lecture will also include a Q&A session for global audience participation, but it is hoped a large percentage of the audience will be from their home country.

The international stage for conservation and science

Each DARWIN LEADER will stream their research, discoveries and findings live to communicate their experiences to audiences around the globe. Each DARWIN LEADER will have the goal of reaching an audience of at least 1 million people in their home country and globally, enabling the DARWIN200 project to reach a total of at least 200 million people via all DARWIN LEADERS collectively.

Each country will follow their guy or girl on the ship every day during their stay and see what they are up to. They’ll be able to find out the latest stuff…what they’ve discovered! DARWIN LEADERS will share content about their project via blogs, social media, live lectures, live video calls etc, which will be broadcast and published live from the ship to all over the world.

We realise these leaders of tomorrow won’t save the world just through their projects but what they are going to do is obtain the skills to take forward for the next 50 years of their lives and careers and this is the living legacy of the project. This is the bit that really will have a global impact.

DARWIN LEADER Placements

DARWIN LEADERS will not be sailing in between ports on the high seas. They will be flown to the port assigned, put up in a hotel and will get to work onboard the ship, while in-port. They will be assigned a DARWIN MENTOR, each one background-checked, and will be in the presence of the DARWIN200 core team at all times.

Selection Process and Entry Criteria

DARWIN LEADERS will be selected through an application process, publicised with major NGO partners, embassies and governments across the globe. All applicants will be judged fairly and freely. Applications will be open to people of all nationalities and languages. It is particularly hoped that applications from less developed corners of the world will participate, providing resources and inspiration to countries and languages perhaps not traditionally associated with scientific research and conservation understanding.

Academic qualifications will be valued, but real experience and accomplishments on the ground with tangible results to create positive change will be the most valued quality sought for in applicants. Rigorous analysis of applications by a judging committee will select the top young conservation-leaders in two hundred countries and states across the globe. All travel costs will be covered for each DARWIN LEADER.

Criteria
  • Aged between 18-25 years
  • Demonstrate your passion for conservation (any project or activity you have undertaken (under your own initiative) to advance conservation of a plant, animal or habitat).
  • Register your interest below.

Award Ceremony

On completion of the DARWIN200 voyage, a major award ceremony will be organised at a high-profile location, which will be attended by renowned environmental celebrities and patrons to celebrate the achievements of the voyage and reward the DARWIN200 Leaders and showcase their studies and findings.

The achievements of each DARWIN200 Leader during their placements on board the Darwin200 ship will be reviewed in front of the live audience at the award ceremony. The results of a judging committee will be announced, and a certificate along with a gold medallion (with a £1,000 reward), silver medallion (£500 reward) or bronze medallion (£250 reward) will be presented to each DARWIN200 Leader on stage. Additional prizes will be awarded for enthusiasm, passion, creativity, and initiative in public engagement.

All expenses for the participation of each DARWIN200 Leader and his/her mentor will be covered.

The patron of the event will also announce the final names selected (from those submitted by the DARWIN200 Leaders and the public) for the new species discovered during the DARWIN200 voyage, along with winners of the online schools’ and students’ competitions and activities.

Massive press coverage will be generated and each table at the award ceremony will honour philanthropists and sponsors of the DARWIN200 project.

On completion of the DARWIN200 voyage, a major award ceremony will be organised at a high-profile location, which will be attended by renowned environmental celebrities and patrons to celebrate the achievements of the voyage and reward the DARWIN LEADERS and showcase their studies and findings.

The achievements of each DARWIN LEADER during their placements on board the DARWIN200 ship will be reviewed in front of the live audience at the award ceremony.

The results of a judging committee will be announced, and a certificate along with a gold medallion (with a £1,000 reward), silver medallion (£500 reward) or bronze medallion (£250 reward) will be presented to each DARWIN LEADER on stage. Additional prizes will be awarded for enthusiasm, passion, creativity, and initiative in public engagement.

All expenses for the participation of each DARWIN LEADER at the award ceremony will be covered.

The patron of the event will also announce the final names selected (from those submitted by the DARWIN LEADERS and the public) for the new species discovered during the DARWIN200 voyage, along with winners of the online schools’ and students’ competitions and activities.

Massive press coverage will be generated and a table at the award ceremony will honour philanthropists and sponsors of the DARWIN200 project.