Ian Kiernan


Ian Kiernan AO

Founder and Chairman

Clean Up Australia and Clean Up the World

 Before Clean Up Australia began ........

Ian Bruce Kiernan was born near the shores of Sydney Harbour, Australia, in1940 and grew up learning to swim, fish and sail on his favourite waterway.

Educated at The Armidale School in Northern NSW,   Ian became a builder bytrade in the construction industry specialising in historic restorations.

Ian has sailed competitively for most of his life and has represented Australiaat the Admiral's Cup, Southern Cross Cup and Trans Pacific Yacht races.  

During the 1970's he took up solo yacht racing and in 1986/87 fulfilled adream by representing Australia in The BOC Challenge solo around the world yacht race sailing the Ben Lexcen designed 18.2m (60') yacht, "Spirit of Sydney".

Ian finished sixth out of a fleet of 25 yachts from 11 nations taking 156 days to sail the 27,000 solo miles of the race setting an Australian record for solo circumnavigation.

It was during The BOC Challenge that Ian began to notice the state of the world's oceans and when he returned to Australia he decided to do something positive about the problem of pollution.

Ian thought the best place to start would be his own backyard, Sydney Harbour and with the support of a committee of friends, he organised a Community Clean Up on Sunday 8 January, 1989 which attracted 40,000 volunteers.

The rest is history.   Ian is now full-time Chairman of Clean Up Australia, a national organisation which co-ordinates Clean Up Australia Day - an event which has been held every year since 1999 and now attracts almost one million volunteers.   

Ian Kiernan's environmental efforts were recognised in 1991 when the Australian Government awarded him the Order of Australia Medal (OAM).   In October 1992, he was named "Communicator of the Year" by the Public Relations Institute of Australia and was the recipient of the Advance Australia Award in the same year.

In recognition of his leadership in the environment and the community both at home and internationally, Ian was named 1994 Australian of the Year. The honour was bestowed on Australia Day, 26 January, 1994 by the Prime Minister.   Ian was made an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) on Australia

Day 1995 On 5 June 1993, World Environment Day, Ian was awarded the UnitedNations Environment Program's top environmental prize - the Global 500Laureate Award for his leadership in the local and global environment.    UNEP entered into an agreement with Clean Up Australia to manage and promote Clean Up the World in September 1993, based on a concept of 100 cities around the globe participating at the same time;   and Ian Kiernan, who describes himself as "just and average bloke", became Chairman of Clean Up the World.

The results are staggering.   During three days more than 30 million people in 80 countries participated in the Australian initiative.   Ian was awarded the prestigious UNEP Sasakawa Environment Prize in 1998 for "mobilising tens of millions of people around the globe to take responsibility for their own environment."     Clean Up the World continues to grow each year with participants organising activities and longer-term environmental projects throughout the year with the campaign culminating in the Clean Up theWorld Weekend.  

As the spokesperson for Clean Up Australia and Clean Up the World Ian has given literally thousands of media interviews locally and overseas.   In addition, he gives his time freely to address school and community groups about caring for the Australian and global environment and works to develop other environmental initiatives travelling at home and abroad.

In 1995, Ian became the presenter of the Living Earth segments on Discovery Channel (broadcast in Australia , New Zealand) and was awarded the prestigious Banksia Foundation Fellowship.   In August 1995 Prime Minister Paul Keating launched Ian's autobiography (co-authored by PhilJarratt) titled 'Coming Clean'.

Ian was Chairman of the Sydney Olympics Bid Community Relations Committee, member of the Environment Committee and Chairman of the Sydney Organising Committee for The BOC Challenge 1994/95 solo around the world yacht race. He was member of the Australian Honours and Awards Review Committee and a member of the Premier's Olympic Business Roundtable.

Ian currently holds Chairmanships with the Co-operative Research Centre (CRC) for Environmental Biotechnology and the Sydney Harbour Awards, is a Director of CVC Reef Ltd and International Innovations Limited.   He is also

Patron of the Enviro-Finance Association of Australia, Australasian Chapter of the International Erosion Control Association and the Sydney Agricultural, Rural and Public Land Trust, the Sapphire Coast Marine Discovery Centre,Charles Sturt University Institute for Land, Water and Society and is amember of their Advisory Board. Ian is a Council member of the Science Foundation for Physics, Sydney University and serves on the Advisory Board of Lend Lease Venture Capital

In recognition of his leadership in the environment and the community both in Australia and internationally, in March 2006 Ian was awarded a Doctor of Science Honoris Causa by the University of New South Wales. During that year he was also awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Trust of Australia (NSW) and their Conservation Build Heritage for Project under $1 million for his restoration work on an 1830's farmhouse Westham in Bathurst.   In 2005 the children of Poland made Ian a Companion of the Order of the Smile.    More recently,   Ian was selected as a member of the Australia 2020 Summit to contribute to the Population, Sustainability, Climate Change and Water discussions

Ian remains an avid sailor and Ambassador for the Great Barrier Reef.   He maintains his love for the sea as Patron of a number of sailing groups including ASPECT Sailors with Disabilities, SCEGGS Redlands and Scots

College Youth Sailing Programs.   Ian is a member of the Maritime Australia.

Clean Up Australia has grown to be Australia's largest community based environment campaign, expanding to include three campaign days - Business Clean Up Day, Clean Up Schools Day and Clean Up Australia Day.  Clean Up the World has inspired communities in more than 140 countries to work for their local environment over the last 15 years.