Six distinguished Planet Explorers at National Geographic Summit, Lisbon 2018

The event was hosted by Catarina Furtado, actress, TV presenter, journalist, filmmaker and UN Population Fund Ambassador, for Goodwill. With six guest story-tellers and inspiring personalities sharing their experiences and how they perceive our planet.

Dedicated to “promoting knowledge and improving the perception of our world.

👉 National Geographic Summit Official Photos

Terry Virts

Astronaut Terry Virts was the first to recount his life story and how as a child he was inspired to explore space from reading his first book about the Apollo Missions. Terry was selected as an astronaut for NASA in 2000, after having earned his wings as a officer for the USAF (U.S. Airforce). He has spent 200 days in space on expedition, the fourth longest NASA space mission. He has also piloted a space shuttle, flew on a spacecraft, space-walked and commanded the ISS.

From space Terry took more than 300 thousand photographs that he published in his book, “View from Above”. His photo can also be seen on the documentary “A Beautiful Planet”.


Terry spoke of how the team flew by and through the aurora borealis. In this video he explains the occurrence of the aurora borealis.

From all his travels, Terry consideres “…the lessons about life on earth are really what is most important“. He left us with the question “what can we do to improve the lives of billions of humans on the Planet?

Mariana van Zeller

The second speaker was Portuguese-native, Mariana Vanzeller. Mariana started her career as a journalist working for Portuguese television network SIC. In 2001, she moved to New York to study at Columbia University’s Graduate School for Journalism. Only a month later, she was reporting back to Portugal the tragedy of the September 11th terrorist attacks, live.

As an investigative journalist, Mariana has courageously “put to light” as she explains it, various situations of conflict and violence.

Mariana has won a Livingston Award for Young Journalists, a Peabody Awards and a television Academy Honor – Emmy.  She journals and corresponds for the National Geographic Explorer Series.

At the summit, Mariana called for risk-taking, quoting Brazilian writer Fernando Teixeira de Andrade, in his poem Tempo de Travessia – “….there is a time when it is necessary to abandon used clothes which already have the shape of our body and forget our paths that always lead us to the same places, it is the time of a great journey and if we do not have the courage to do it will shall have remained forever at the margin of ourselves.

Hyeonseo Lee

As a child, Hyeonseo thought there was no better country than North Korean. It wasn’t until her youth, having witnessed famine and public executions, that she realised the brutality of the Kim Il Sung totalitarian regime. Fleeing from North Korean to China at the age of 17 was the most difficult of all her experiences.  She had to leave her family behind and hide from the authorities. It wasn’t until 2008 that she finally found a place of peace and real refuge, in South Korea. Hyeonseo writes about her life in her bestselling book “The Girl with Seven Names“.

She has spoken out to the world to help the friends she left behind, hoping to create awareness and somehow help her compatriots.

Hyeonseo dreams of working for the UN or an NGO in the defence of human rights of North Koreans.

Charlie Hamilton James

Charlie Hamilton James is on a mission to bring balance to the world, the relationship between animals and humans. “Wildlife is worth preserving, we are animals just like them.”

He is an English photographer, television presenter and cameraman.  Also, a specialist in conservation, natural history and anthropology.

Charlie started his career at the at the age of 16 for the BBC, working with Sir David Attenborough’s “The Trails of Life .”  Today he works as a National Geographic Magazine photographer, produces natural history films for clients including the BBC and runs his own production company. He has won the Royal Television Society medal for cinematography and of Wildlife Photographer and Cameraman of the Year.

According to Charlie, humans should take ownership, as a part of the ecosystem. In his experience, “with wildlife it’s how you react to nature that makes it react to you.” He is on a mission to bring balance to the world: “we are part of a system, we need every little thing in the environment, we need to take ownership.”

Photo taken from: National Geographic Summit 2018 Program Adjany Costa

Adjany Costa

Being in the fields…it sharpens your senses and changes your views of the world, it reconnects you to yourself and everything around you.” Adjany is a National Geographic “emerging explorer”. An adventurous, fearless woman. She works for the Okavango Wilderness Project Okavango Wilderness Project, a Wild Bird Foundation. A collaborative research and study initiative that involves the National Geographic filmmakers, photographers, writers and Angolan and international researchers.

Sylvia Earle

Ocean Explorer, marine protector, researcher and author of 175 publication.

The first female chief scientist of the U.S. National Oceanic And Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and Time Magazine’s First Hero for the Planet.

Sylvia Earle started diving the ocean in the early 60’s and went on her first real expedition in 1964. “Sylvia sails out to sea with seventy men – was the headline of a major newspaper”, she recalls.

Her exploration work has helped develop scientific means of diving for longer periods of time and deeper into the ocean. Her work as founder of Mission Blue, has created public interest and built support for a global network of protected marine areas.

At the age of 81, Sylvia is still diving and encouraging others to do so too – “no child left dry” she said, meaning everyone should give diving a go! “Let’s get to know the fish, understand them, see them different, respect them more.”

Knowledge is the key for developing means with which to insure our planet is safe – “before, we didn’t know, we didn’t have today’s knowledge of the consequences“, Sylvia is optimist that we can make the necessary changes, to help the Planet.