Since 1999, Duane Silverstein has been the executive director of Seacology, an international non-governmental organization with the sole focus of preserving islands—their fragile habitats, vanishing species and historic cultures—throughout the globe
Before heading Seacology, he was the executive director of the Goldman Fund, one of California’s largest philanthropic foundations, for 18 years. Duane was instrumental in creating and heading the Goldman Environmental Prize, which has been dubbed the “Nobel Prize of the Environment” by National Geographic and news media around the globe. Over his career he has visited more than 200 islands in 86 nations.
Widely considered one of the world’s foremost experts on islands, he is a National Fellow of The Explorers Club and a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society. In 2018, he accepted the United Nations Momentum for Change climate action award on behalf of Seacology. In 2019, Duane was named a Go Blue Award Lifetime Achievement Honoree. Under his leadership, Seacology was nominated for the 2020 Nobel Peace Prize. In 2021, he was named an Ocean Hero by The Salty Hands, a Canadian marine conservation organization.
While islands take up only five percent of Earth’s land, they are home to an estimated 20 percent of the world’s bird, reptile, and plant species—and almost 40 percent of critically endangered animals around the globe. Many of the world’s most vulnerable islands are small, remote, and often overlooked. All Seacology projects help protect island species, which include some of the world’s rarest plants and animals.
Seacology’s mission is to protect threatened island ecosystems all over the world by working directly with communities, helping them to preserve their culture and improve their lives while saving precious island habitats. Island communities are under constant pressure to boost economic development, even at the cost of environmental damage. Seacology’s win-win approach recognizes the efforts of indigenous communities and gives them an economic incentive to preserve their natural resources. It also recognizes that local communities—who are often ignored by decisionmakers—can be the best stewards of the environment.