2008 Jury Member

The Rolex Awards for Enterprise

Location: France

Etienne Bourgois
France, Born 1961

An experienced expedition leader and inveterate yachtsman, Etienne Bourgois has been head of the agnès b. fashion company for over 20 years. He combines his passion for sailing with a commitment to protecting the environment.

Born into a seafaring family, he was introduced to yachting by his grandfather and his uncle, Bruno Troublé. Since 2004, Bourgois has led six expeditions in the polar schooner Tara to Greenland and the Arctic via southern Georgia, enabling several teams of scientists, as well as artists, to raise awareness of the risks to the environment. The Tara is supported by the United Nations Environment Programme.

Since September 2006, he has been supervising the extraordinary Tara-Arctic Expedition. Embedded in the frozen Arctic Ocean, by spring 2008 the Tara will have drifted for more than 1,800 kilometres. Working with the scientific European Union programme DAMOCLES (Developing Arctic Modelling and Observing Capabilities for Long-term Environmental Studies), the expedition’s goal is to draw up a full inventory of the state of this fragile habitat and to gain a better understanding of the impact of global warming. For Etienne Bourgois, this scientific — and personal — adventure is “a commitment to the planet. It’s my responsibility — as the head of a clothing company, and also as a citizen of a rich country — to increase people’s awareness of the risks facing future generations.”

With his mother, the fashion designer known simply as Agnès B., he is also involved in film, the arts and humanitarian work, especially in Africa. “Our environment is in danger, but I have a lot of faith in human nature. We are capable of changing our behaviour,” Bourgois says.

Other 2008 Jury Members