Our aim: To illuminate and protect

The National Geographic Society’s plans for 2020 celebrate milestones and back science, exploration, biodiversity, says President and COO Mike Ulica.

This story appears in the January 2020 issue of National Geographic magazine.

The National Geographic Society uses the power of science, exploration, education, and storytelling to illuminate and protect the wonder of our world. With this mission statement, we honor our legacy as a 131-year-old global nonprofit and the principles that will guide our work in the years ahead.

As we start 2020, I’d like to share our plans for what will truly be a consequential year. We will commemorate important milestones, such as the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. We’ll celebrate the 60th anniversary of Jane Goodall’s arrival in what is now Gombe National Park, with an immersive museum exhibit at our headquarters in Washington, D.C. And National Geographic will join world leaders at the Convention on Biological Diversity meeting in Kunming, China, to help inform a post-2020 framework for supporting global biodiversity.

In each instance, the Society’s contributions will be driven by our unique approach. We illuminate the world’s wonders by exploring a subject and bringing it to life with powerful storytelling. We protect what is wonderful by taking action to safeguard the planet’s critical resources and inhabitants.

Our mission can take the form of photographer Joel Sartore’s Photo Ark project: affecting wildlife portraits that connect us with at-risk species on an emotional level and inspire us to protect these remarkable animals.

Our mission also is exemplified by our recent work on Mount Everest, together with our partners at Rolex. Building on both organizations’ histories of exploration, we used groundbreaking science to reveal how Earth’s systems function and are changing over time. The expedition’s achievements included installing the world’s two highest-altitude automated weather stations and collecting the highest ever ice core sample.

We work with the next generation of planetary stewards in mind. Young people increasingly identify as global citizens and unite around issues they care about. The Society is committed to growing their understanding of the world, and supporting their interest in geography and their empathy for the Earth.

Please know that your support makes the Society’s work possible. Thank you for standing with us to illuminate and protect the wonder of our world.