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Homeward Bound’s vision is that by 2036, we will create a diverse global leadership community of 10,000 women and non-binary people with a STEMM background. Currently our alumnae include more than 800 individuals across 90 nationalities.

Priyanka Das Rajkakati

Photo: Homeward Bound Women #StrongerTogether

 

Board Announcement about Antarctica 

At the forefront of our discussions about HB’s strategic direction is the state of the planet.  Too often, we find ourselves remarking that we are witnessing unprecedented events when it comes to global sustainability and the need for urgent action. The Homeward Bound board has made the difficult decision that, due to environmental concerns and taking into consideration our dedication to the sustainability of the planet, the 2025 voyage will be the last Homeward Bound voyage to Antarctica. Antarctica is the last wilderness in the world, yet the signs of human activities are now very much apparent here.  

We will propose, with input from our community, an alternative face-to-face immersive component for the HB9 cohort and future cohorts.   

In light of our decision to move away from our current destination, we are actively exploring options that not only align with our values but also cater to the diverse needs of our global community.   Key pillars will include environmental significance, geographic accessibility, wilderness, affordability, time constraints, unique experience, and delivery of our leadership program.  Never has the need for highly connected, authentic, and credible leaders been more urgent than it is today. By re-designing our face-to-face immersive component, we aim to make our program accessible to even more women across the globe. 

We are committed to cultivating a new era of leadership through global collaboration, inclusivity, and instilling a legacy mindset. Since 2016 we have seen the power of Homeward Bound’s face-to-face global experiences, that transcend geographic boundaries. We will continue to enhance this power by exploring alternative opportunities. 

Our History – Antarctica 

Homeward Bound’s story started with Antarctica. The initiative was born out of the collaboration of leadership expert Fabian Dattner and three Antarctic scientists (Professor Mary-Anne Lea, Dr Justine Shaw and Dr Jess Melbourne-Thomas). Antarctica was the backdrop to their discussion around global sustainability and the leadership challenges facing the planet.  

The allure of Antarctica has historically captivated leaders, fostering close connections among expedition participants.  Historically Antarctica was predominantly inhabited by men, particularly of Caucasian descent, with women noticeably absent.  Women had no presence in the heroic era, gaining only a recent presence in Antarctic scientific endeavours.   

Consequently, Antarctica has been the perfect destination for Homeward Bound’s face-to-face transformational learning program to immerse in the world’s remotest wilderness while witnessing human impacts. Our program participants have had the privilege of visiting Antarctica, immersing themselves in its unique ecosystems and wildlife, and being provided with the opportunity to learn about Antarctic science and diplomacy, as well as to meet scientists at Antarctic research stations. This experience offers invaluable insights that contribute to a deeper understanding of the necessary global-scale leadership changes that are needed.  Our participants return from the voyage changed and as new ambassadors for Antarctica, now including over 800 women with a background in STEMM. They return to their lives and jobs, committed to the ongoing conservation of Antarctica and its significance in Earth systems. However, things are changing, and this has influenced the board’s decision to find alternative destinations.

#TeamHB3 - Hydrurga Rocks - Heart - Homeward Bound Projects

Photo: #TeamHB3 – Hydrurga Rock, Antarctica.

 

Environmental Impact. 

In the 2022-2023 Antarctic season, the International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators (IAATO) reported 103,988 visitors to Antarctica. This represents a significant increase from the 2016-2017 season’s 45,083 visitors when Homeward Bound first set sail. Antarctic tourism has grown very quickly with no sign of abating.  Now more than ever, Antarctica is under multiple pressures. In 2023, it experienced the lowest sea ice extent and highest temperatures ever recorded.  Whole colonies of Emperor penguin chicks perished due to the premature breakout of sea ice, while ancient moss beds have died due to drought. Glaciers are retreating and ice sheets are calving into the ocean at unprecedented rates. Additionally, Avian flu has reached Antarctica, raising concerns for the isolated wildlife populations who have not recently been exposed to this deadly virus.

Photo: From 2023 Voyage.  Credit: Nicola Waldron & Judit Jiminiez Sainz

 

Accessibility and Global Collaboration. 

Travel to Antarctica is expensive. Time and time again, we have heard feedback from our alumnae indicating that our Antarctica price tag is not affordable. As our global initiative grows, we recognise the need for a more accessible model that can adapt to rapid changes while remaining sustainable and promoting global leadership and collaboration. 

The Future of Antarctica and Our Decision. 

Homeward Bound acknowledges the pressing issues Antarctica currently faces and after thorough consideration, and in line with our dedication to sustainability and respect for Antarctica, the board decided we will not be travelling to Antarctica beyond the planned voyage in 2025.  

Homeward Bound’s decision reflects a commitment to responsible leadership and environmental stewardship, acknowledging the need to adapt in the face of evolving challenges. Antarctica has been part of our program for many years; however, we acknowledge we may be part of the problem. By re-evaluating our travel destination and practices, Homeward Bound aims to set an example to our network of alums and participants, ensuring a sustainable and equitable future for both our planet and its leaders.

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