Ian Kiernan, the one time solo around-the-world yachtsman turned environmental campaigner has died aged 78.

Kiernan was diagnosed with cancer in late July.

Kiernan’s love of sailing led to his remarkable career as a global environmentalist founding both the “Clean Up Australia” and “Clean Up the World” campaigns.

In 1986, the then-44-year-old represented Australia in the BOC solo around-the-world yacht race, setting an Australian record for a solo circumnavigation of the world.

During his nine months at sea, Kiernan was shocked at the amount of rubbish he had seen while travelling the world’s oceans.

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He was then inspired to organise a community event, “Clean Up Sydney Harbour” in 1989, which saw more than 40,000 volunteers lending a hand.


The following year, the first Clean Up Australia Day was held, with more than 300,000 Aussies volunteering to pick up rubbish to make a difference to the health of their local environment.

Then in 1991, Kiernan started Clean Up the World.

In its first year, more than 30 million people from 80 countries participated.

It has since grown to involve over 40 million people from 120 countries.

He was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia in 1991, named Australian of the year in 1994, and appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia in 1995.

Kiernan is survived by his wife Judy and two daughters Sally and Pip.



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