Dona Bertarelli is a sportswoman, investor and philanthropist who has dedicated nearly two decades to protecting ecosystems by creating large-scale marine protected areas.
She is the Special Adviser for the Blue Economy to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), and a Patron of Nature of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). She is also co-chair of the Bertarelli Foundation. Through the Pew Bertarelli Ocean Legacy, she works in partnership with The Pew Charitable Trusts to advance ocean conservation, for the benefit of communities which rely on the ocean for their livelihoods. Between them, the partners have helped to safeguard nearly 13.3 million square kilometers of ocean by working with communities, local leaders, philanthropic partners, indigenous groups, government officials, and scientists. She is the founder of Global Fishing Watch Marine Manager, a dynamic technology portal created to help transform the management of marine protected areas, which has 14 sites under varying stages of development. She is a member of the World Economic Forum’s Friends of Ocean Action, and a founding patron of Womanity Foundation.
With her children and husband, Yann Guichard, Dona Bertarelli founded ‘Sails of Change’, a foundation dedicated to the protection and regeneration of biodiversity. Sails of Change is based on three pillars (INSPIRE. UNITE. CHANGE) and its activities focus on a first, common goal: to fully or highly protect 30% of global ocean and land by 2030. Informed by science, the founders believe in engaging with stakeholders at many levels to raise environmental awareness and promote positive change, from advocating at a policy level to connecting with a wider public through education, sports and art.
In partnership with IUCN, Dona and Yann launched ‘Sports for Nature’ to help sports organisations mitigate negative impacts on biodiversity and climate, and take concrete steps to protect biodiversity.
As an investor with assets in hospitality and real estate, Dona focuses on long-term value creation. She believes strongly in the power of business to do good for society, and drove the development of the family pharmaceutical business Serono’s philanthropy and educational programmes, when she served as Executive Director, Public and Professional Affairs from 1992 to 1997.
A keen sportswoman and sailor, Dona Bertarelli co-founded Spindrift, a professional sailing team, alongside her husband, Yann, a renowned French skipper. In 2015-16, she was helmsman-trimmer aboard Spindrift 2 (now renamed Sails of Change), the world’s largest sailing racing maxi-trimaran, as the team attempted sailing’s ultimate challenge, the Jules Verne Trophy. Although the team narrowly missed beating the record, Dona became the fastest woman to sail around the world.
In 2014, the couple created Spindrift for Schools, an educational programme for schoolchildren in France and Switzerland, which is approved by the French Ministry of Education, and produced an educational kit that has been included by the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO in its program for the Decade of Ocean Sciences for Sustainable Development.
- Kokopelli Prize from the American Infertility Association in recognition of her work to improve public understanding of reproductive health.
- The Wilson Award for Corporate Citizenship for her work in ocean conservation.