Lewis Pugh was never afraid to take the plunge. Now ocean advocate for the United Nations Environment Programme, the record-breaking cold-water swimmer has completed long distance swims at both of the Earth’s Poles, in the Red Sea, and along the length of the Hudson River, to spread a message of habitat renewal and conservation.
“The first thing that happens is I can't breathe and I’m gasping for air. And the cold just grips its way around you. And you just got to try and control your mind, because there's a moment when you feel like panicking because there's nothing like this.”
Healthy oceans, seas and rivers are essential to supporting life on Earth - providing food, medicine, and acting as the world’s largest carbon sink. In this episode, Lewis Pugh reflects on his love for the water, on his breathtaking swims, and on breaking the diplomatic ice to create the world’s largest marine park.
“Everything relies on us being able to drink clean water and breathe fresh air and live and take care of this planet. So it's habitable. Everything else is secondary. This is about sustaining life on Earth.”
Melissa Fleming 00:00
Can you imagine choosing to swim in freezing Arctic waters without a wetsuit? Lewis Pugh is the first person to have completed a long-distance swim in every ocean in the world, often in extreme conditions.
Lewis Pugh 00:16
I dove into the water and the first thing that happens is I can't breathe. I’m gasping for air. And the cold just grips its way around you. And you’ve just got to try and control your mind, because there's a moment when you feel like panicking because there's nothing like this. And towards the end I'm so cold.
Melissa Fleming 00:42
He's a man with a mission to protect our seas and rivers. These days, he's the Ocean Advocate for the United Nations Environment Programme, and Patron of the Oceans. And he told me what drives him. From the United Nations, I'm Melissa Fleming. Welcome to Awake at Night.
Lewis Pugh 01:12
First of all, I love swimming. You know, you couldn't swim for 36 years in some of the most remote parts of the world unless you really love swimming. But also, because I try to shine a light on those parts of the world which are really threatened. And then afterwards try to get them protected.
Melissa Fleming 01:29
Okay, so that's loving swimming. Most people who love swimming swim in swimming pools, or in the lake, or a dip in the ocean. But some of these oceans are really extreme. In 2020, you became the first person to swim beneath the Antarctic Ice Sheet. Can you just describe what that feels like?
Lewis Pugh 01:54
Let me just back up a little bit. Because I think the really pivotal moment when I really did the very cold stuff was the North Pole. So, this was a few years previously. This was 2007. And world leaders at the time were denying what was happening at the North Pole. And so, I sailed to the North Pole. And I remember arriving there and there’s a big open patch of sea. It’s completely black. And I just swim in a Speedo, cap, and goggles. And I'm standing there, and I'm about to dive in. And all I can think is, ‘If things go horribly wrong now, how long will it take for my frozen corpse to sink to the bottom of the sea?’ But I had spent six years in the high Arctic. I had seen the enormous changes taking place. And I said to myself, ‘You've got to dive in here, and you’ve got to swim across the North Pole.’
Melissa Fleming 02:47
So, what were… I mean, you mentioned these changes that were taking place in the North Pole, but just remind us. This is 2007. I think a lot of people in the world are just waking up to the fact that climate change is causing dramatic changes in our environment. What was happening in the North Pole, and what compelled you to swim?
Lewis Pugh 03:08
Well, I did all my training on an island called Spitsbergen in Svalbard, which is on the edge of the Norwegian Arctic Sea ice. And so, it's very, very close to North Pole. And I did my first swim there in 2005. And this was what I was witnessing - was the enormous rise in the warmth of the water, but also the melting of the glaciers. And I just don't think that world leaders had a grip on just how quickly this was happening.
Melissa Fleming 03:35
And so, then you decided that the way to send a message was to swim.
Lewis Pugh 03:41
A very, very simple message. Somebody is swimming across the North Pole across an open patch of sea. And I dove into the water, and I started swimming. And the water is so cold, it's below zero. So, it's -1.7°C because it's saltwater. I got out the other side. It took me 18 minutes and 50 seconds to get to the other side. And I can honestly say I got out the other side a different person. You know, 18 minutes and 50 seconds, every single one of those minutes felt like an hour. But I came out, as I say, I felt that I was a different person because I had witnessed what had happened there. And I had an absolute determination to take this message around the world about what I was witnessing in the high Arctic, and also down in Antarctica.
So, you alluded to the swim down under the East Antarctic Ice Sheet. So that was a few years later. What we were experiencing down in Antarctica were all these freshwater lakes appearing on the ice sheet. And so, I went down there, and we found a tunnel underneath the ice. And all I could think is, ‘If I can go down this tunnel… There's a bit of air, you know, above me. If I can go down this tunnel, I can convey a message better than any numbers. It's, you know, both poles are beginning to melt, and fast. And we must take action.’
Melissa Fleming 05:07
I just wonder. First of all, what does this feel like? Describe the feeling of being in that kind of cold. I know you're determined. I know you wanted to deliver a message, but it must be freezing like beyond comprehension.
Lewis Pugh 05:24
The only way I can describe it is by giving you some comparisons. When you swim in a normal swimming pool the water is 27°C. If you swim across the English Channel in summer - which lots of swimmers want to do - it's 18 [°C]. Drop all the way down to just 5 [°C]. That's the temperature the water in which the passengers of the Titanic perished. Freshwater obviously freezes at 0 [°C]. This is even colder. It's -1.7 [°C]. I dove into the water. And the first thing happens is I can't breathe. I’m gasping for air. And the cold just grips its way around you. And you’ve just got to try and control your mind because there's a moment when you feel like panicking because there's nothing like this. And I just say to myself, ‘Listen. I've just got to do 100 metres, and then another 100 metres, another 100 metres.’ So, this was a one-kilometre swim across the North Pole. And towards the end I'm so cold. Very difficult to control your arms and legs. This is a very, very high consequence environment. No human had ever swum in anywhere close to this water temperature before.
Melissa Fleming 06:30
No human had ever swum in anywhere close to this water temperature before.
Lewis Pugh 06:34
They had swum in water close to 0 [°C]. And you think, ‘Okay. What's the difference between zero and -1.7°C?’ I’ll tell you, it’s a world a difference. It’s terrifying.
Melissa Fleming 06:47
Reminds me of what people say the difference between a degree or two with global warming.
Lewis Pugh 06:52
Melissa Fleming 06:54
Yeah. So, I mean, how does one prepare for this swim? I mean, you don't wear a wetsuit. You're just in a normal swimsuit.
Lewis Pugh 07:03
Yeah, I mean, I do that because, first of all, one feels so much more connected with the environment when you're just in a Speedo, cap, and goggles, you know. I love to be connected with the water and to be connected with everything around me. But secondly, I'm urging world leaders to make hard, courageous decisions now about protecting the environment. And sometimes these decisions are really unpopular. And I felt that if I swam with a wetsuit or dry suit, it just wouldn't send the right message.
Melissa Fleming 07:33
Well, you certainly are. I mean, sitting close to us is your cameraman who's accompanying you on all of these extraordinary swims. And so, you have a camera with you at all times. Why is that important?
Lewis Pugh 07:50
Because I'm trying to tell a story about what's happening to our planet. So, I have a cameraman and I also have a videographer. And we… You know, these pictures are very, very stark. One person diving in there, conveying a message about the health of our planet. And so, we've done this all over the world. And so recently I did a swim across the Red Sea, across the most beautiful coral reefs you can ever imagine. And this was just before the COP negotiations in Sharm el-Sheikh. And underneath me are tropical fish. And the colours of them are just beautiful. You know, the yellows and the blues and the big manta rays. The coral is absolutely magnificent. But the science is very, very stark. And the science is that we've… You know, if we heat the planet, these coral reefs are going to die. Corals are the nurseries of our oceans. They are so important. And they provide resilience around islands. Can you imagine a world without coral reefs. This will be the first time in human history that we lose potentially an entire ecosystem. And it could happen within our lifetime.
Melissa Fleming 08:57
That's incredible that it's just that tiny percentage of a degree that would have that consequential effect.
Lewis Pugh 09:03
Melissa Fleming 09:04
And it has… It's detrimental for the fish and the sea life that thrives around them.
Lewis Pugh 09:12
And for humans as well. Because we all rely on coral reefs.
Melissa Fleming 09:15
Lewis Pugh 09:16
Well, I mean, coral reefs, as I say, they provide resilience to islands. You know, I was in the Maldives recently. And I was there a few years ago, and I remember seeing such beautiful coral reefs. I went back there recently. And remember, most of these islands are very, very low lying. And there were people digging on the beach and building defences because the water temperature has risen. The coral reefs have died in some parts of the Maldives. And there's no protection against the storms. And so, the islands are very vulnerable.
Melissa Fleming 09:50
That's why island nations also have this existential fear of climate change.
Lewis Pugh 09:57
Melissa Fleming 10:00
I'm just wondering how you prepare for these swims. You know, I'm sure the Red Sea was quite a challenge because of the distance. But these freezing swims. I mean, how…? Because most human bodies would not be able to endure that.
Lewis Pugh 10:17
No. Well, I mean, especially for the North Pole, what we did is we built a special swimming pool. And we put a tonne and a half of ice in it every single day. And I got in there every day, and I swam a kilometre and then we slowly lowered the temperature from 14°C, to 13 [°C], all the way down to 1°C. And it was incredibly painful. But that training was necessary. I train 51 weeks a year. I have to do a lot of running, a lot of swimming, a lot of kayaking, a lot of weights. It's a good couple of hours every single day on top of the environmental diplomacy which I have to do.
Melissa Fleming 10:52
I wonder, you must have some medical support when you're on these swims in these extreme conditions. Because what if something happened to you?
Lewis Pugh 11:04
Melissa Fleming 11:05
Have you ever needed it?
Lewis Pugh 11:09
No. But you know, I've always had a doctor next to me. I mean, this is pushing the edge of, you know, human endurance. A human is not designed to swim in water of -1.7 [°C]. And in fact, I've done swims in even colder water. I went down to the Ross Sea a few years ago to try and get that area protected. It's amazing. It's down in Antarctica. It's full of these emperor penguins, and humpback whales. And it's just an amazing place. And the water was slapping up against the side of the support boat and splashing up and turning into sludge mid-air. And I dived into the water, and I started swimming. And within a minute I could barely feel my hand. Within two minutes I was losing control of my forearms. Within three minutes, my arms. I survived in there for five minutes. It's such an extreme environment. But that area was so under threat that I was, you know… I'm determined to go there to carry a message about how important is to protect these places.
Melissa Fleming 12:17
Your work has been described as Speedo Diplomacy. In 2015, you helped establish the largest marine protected area in the world.
Lewis Pugh 12:26
Melissa Fleming 12:27
This involved major international negotiations. So how did your swimming bring this about?
Lewis Pugh 12:34
So, Antarctica is a unique place. It’s unique in the world because it's governed by 25 nations and the European Union. These are the 25 nations which have got scientific stations down there. And in order to do anything to get that area protected, all 25 plus the EU, all have to agree it. And you can imagine how challenging that is. And the American government and New Zealand government had been trying to get this place protected for 17 years. And they got all the nations across the line except Russia. And I thought to myself, ‘Well, I've swum with a lot of Russians. And there’s one language which they understand and that’s cold water.’ They love swimming in cold water. And so, I said to myself, ‘I'm going to go down there. I'm going to do a swim. And then I'm going to go back to Russia. I’m going to go to Russia and try and speak to the leadership there about protecting this place.’
And so, I went down there. I did a swim. I mean, the conditions were so extreme. And my cameraman took a photograph of me in such a vulnerable position. I'd come out the water. There was ice all over me. I was frozen solid. And that we then sent to our team who handed it to media agencies in Russia. And it was all over Russian newspapers. And then I flew to Russia. And I didn't know what type of reception I was going to have. But it was actually quite astonishing because cold water is a language which Russians understand. And so, there was a man called Slava Fetisov who was a Russian ice hockey player. And he said, ‘I want to take you to all the leadership.’ And he took me to all the key decision makers. I shuttled backwards and forwards between Moscow and Washington for two years. And then that moment which came when they said, ‘We're going to agree to join the rest of the world in protecting this place.’ And the area is 1.5 million square kilometres. It's the size of Britain, France, Germany, Italy. All put together. It was the happiest day of my life.
Melissa Fleming 14:36
And what does that mean for the environment there, for wildlife, that it's protected?
Lewis Pugh 14:43
What was happening there was the big industrial fishing fleets wanted to move in there and catch what they called Chilean sea bass. The main threat was from industrial fishing.
Melissa Fleming 14:54
Why did you start working for the UN?
Lewis Pugh 14:56
I was very, very lucky. So, this was exactly 10 years ago. Achim Steiner approached me. He was the head of UN Environment at the time. And he said, ‘Lewis, you’re a swimmer. You're a maritime lawyer. You're in the oceans all the time. You're talking about what you're seeing. I wonder if you'd consider being our Patron of the Oceans.’ And I said to him, I said, ‘I'd be absolutely delighted.’ And he said, ‘And here's the brief.’ He said, ‘Just be a voice for the oceans and all the magnificent wildlife in our oceans. You know, the whales, the dolphins, penguins, the seals. Just be a voice for them.’ And that's what I've tried to do. But I also believe fundamentally that nations have to work to solve these big environmental crises. You cannot solve them on your own. So, it's been a privilege to serve the UN for 10 years.
Melissa Fleming 15:45
I wonder how you got into this in the first place. I mean, where did it all begin? I believe you were born in Britain, but you grew up in South Africa. Tell me about your childhood. What took you there? And when did you start swimming?
Lewis Pugh 15:58
Geography can mould you. It really can. I mean, I grew up in Plymouth. I mean, and Plymouth is a gateway to the North Atlantic. My father was a doctor in the navy, and I lived in a naval hospital there. And I went to school overlooking the harbour. And I would see the ships going out to sea. And as a young boy, my mother said to me, ‘Lewis, you're always saying that you wanted to be on one of those ships going out to sea.’ And then at 10 years old, we emigrated out to South Africa. My father's mother had been South African. And we went to go live in Cape Town where three oceans meet. And I went to school, and my school overlooked Robben Island. And then one day I looked out across that island from the history classroom, and I said to myself, ‘I want to swim from Robben Island back to Cape Town.’ And that started it.
Melissa Fleming 16:50
What did Robben Island mean to you?
Lewis Pugh 16:52
Well, this is an interesting time, because this was 1987. This was a political prison at the time. And I did this swim. I swam from Robben Island. And I remember arriving at the island and there were jailers all over. They escorted me down to the beach. And there were a lot of political prisoners standing there cleaning the beach. And it was the 1st of May 1987. And I remember them waving me off. And I got in the water, and I started swimming, and in the first hour it was okay. By the second hour, I was incredibly cold. By two and a half hours, I was frozen to the core. I was swimming breaststroke. I finally got to the other side. And I barely stumbled ashore. I was so frozen to the core. My father was there to meet me. It was the first swim he saw, and then he passed away shortly afterwards. So that whole swim, so much emotion about that time and that history in South Africa, and then with my parents.
Melissa Fleming 18:03
I mean, it was the apartheid era, and Mandela was imprisoned there.
Lewis Pugh 18:06
So, Mandela spent, I think, about 18 years on the island. At the time, he'd been removed from the island, and he was in another prison in a different part of Cape Town in Tokai. But shortly afterwards, I went to the University of Cape Town. And I think this was a moment in history. I arrived at the University of Cape Town, which was a liberal university in Cape Town. And university started in February. And after a few days at university, we all listened to the announcements by the state presidents that there would be the unbanning of the African National Congress, that Nelson Mandela would be released. It was an unbelievable time.
And a number of my lecturers helped write the new constitution. And a constitution is such an important document because it sets out the hopes and dreams, the ambitions of a nation that we could come together, that we could learn how to listen to the dialogue of the other side. And this is what I've been able to… You know, these are the lessons which are so necessary if you're going to be an environmental diplomat. Because you have to listen to the dialogue of the other side. But you've also got to be like a locksmith. You can't keep going to the same closed door with the same set of keys. You've got to try and find a way through that door to be able to persuade the person - the environment minister on the other side, or whoever it may be, a CEO of a big polluting company - that we can do things differently. And that there is something where we can work together for the future of our children and our grandchildren, and the whole of the animal kingdom.
Melissa Fleming 19:54
Do you remember the feeling you had when you learned that Nelson Mandela was going to be released?
Lewis Pugh 19:59
I remember it. And I remember exactly where I was.
Melissa Fleming 20:03
Lewis Pugh 20:04
I was on a beach in Cape Town. And it took everybody by surprise. Archbishop Desmond Tutu became the founding patron of my foundation. And I remember speaking to him about it. And he said, it took his breath away. It took his breath away because he thought that it could be another 10,15, 20 years’ time. And he said it was just amazing. And he cried. And I think… I was young at the time. I was, you know, I was just 19 years old, and I didn't know what was going to happen. There was so much uncertainty.
Melissa Fleming 20:45
And I see tears in your eyes now.
Lewis Pugh 20:47
Yeah, because, you know, I went to Robben Island jail a couple of years later with a man called Ahmed Kathrada. And Ahmed Kathrada had been imprisoned with Nelson Mandela. And shortly before he died, he invited myself and a few people to go to Robben Island. And he took me into his cell. And, you know, I’m in his cell and it's so small. You put your arms across, and you can barely touch the walls. And there's a small window with three bars. And there's a big fluorescent light above us. And there's a bucket on the ground for the ablution and two very thin blankets. And you don't know what… I didn't know what to say to him. And all I could say to him, I said, ‘Ahmed, what was it like in here?’ And you know what he said to me? Melissa, he said to me, he said, ‘If I were to describe it with one word, I would say cold. That cold wind coming in off the Atlantic Ocean. Cold showers. Cold food. Cold waters. And if I'm honest with you, I don't think I have actually warmed up.’
And then we walk outside his cell. He closes it because now he's now one of the governors of the museum. He closes it. We walk two cells down. He stands at Nelson Mandela’s cell. He holds the bars. He looks in there. And he says, ‘I would do that all over again for Nelson.’ Now, this is not somebody that's lost the first 27 years of your life, or the last 27 years of your life. It’s the middle section. It's when you have your hopes, your dreams and education. Maybe start a business, start a family, get married. And it's gone. And it's gone forever. And the forgiveness which those people had. I asked Ahmed, ‘What should I do?’ He said, ‘Swim, Lewis.’
Melissa Fleming 22:56
Why did he say that? How did he know that you swimming would be so meaningful?
Lewis Pugh 23:01
There'd been a lot of media in South Africa about the swimming across the North Pole. I did a swim on Everest. There was so much media attention about it. And I think you know, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, all these people, began to realize what the defining issues of our generation were. Desmond Tutu said to me, he said, ‘You know, Lewis, when we damage the environment, we create conditions which are ripe for conflict. But conversely, when we protect the environment, we foster peace.’ And, you know, I was too young at the time, but I suppose they could see that swimming in these spaces could carry a message that science perhaps couldn't carry - that we have to start working together.
Melissa Fleming 23:50
You just completed a swim down the Hudson River. 315 miles, I believe. 31 days. Why the Hudson River? And also, maybe what did it have to do with arriving just a few days before the General Assembly started and world leaders gathered here in New York?
Lewis Pugh 24:13
Rivers are essential for life on Earth. I mean, they're the arteries of our planet. And so many rivers around the world are now so unhealthy. They're so polluted. And so, I wanted to do one swim around the world, which would carry a message. And it always came back to the Hudson River. And the reason for that is because it starts high up in the Adirondack Mountains. And there you’ve got beavers, you’ve got vultures, you’ve got bears. And at the end, New York City and obviously the headquarters of the United Nations.
But it was also an amazing story because 50 years ago the Hudson was one of the most polluted rivers in the world. And certainly, one of the most polluted rivers here in America. And New Yorkers said enough is enough. And they started cleaning it up mile by mile, town after town, factory after factory. And they turned its fate around. And yes, we mustn't be naive. We've got to be vigilant. There is still pollution in the river. But it's an amazing story. And so, I decided I'm going to swim down the whole of this river. And then I'm going to come here to the General Assembly and deliver a message about I think that this can be a blueprint for rivers all over the world. I have hope that this gives hope to people around the world that your river - whether you're in England, whether you're in India, China, South Africa, Brazil - that your river can one day be saved.
Melissa Fleming 25:39
I saw… I was following you as you were doing the swim and I saw on one day you swam past a factory, and it was… It looked… I don't know, I was wondering, is this safe for you? It didn't look very inviting or clean.
Lewis Pugh 25:58
What was interesting was meeting people from across all demographic groups, and all ages. And so many came up to me and they said, ‘We are so proud of what has been achieved here in the Hudson River.’ One gentleman said to me that he lived next to one of those factories, and he'd wake up in the morning and the river would be completely white. And the next day, he'd go back to the river, and it'd be completely red. And the following day, completely blue. And that's because that factory was a car factory. And the colour of the river depended upon the colour of the car they were manufacturing that day. Things have changed. They've really done so much work. The Hudson is such an inspirational story.
And near the source of the Hudson, I remember watching an enormous bald eagle come out the trees, and then swooped down towards me, and then start following me down the river. And to think that just a few years ago this bald eagle - which is a symbol of the United States of America - was virtually extinct in the Hudson Valley. And it shows what can happen when you really start cleaning up a river, investing in a river, and making water a priority. Because water is one of our most precious resources. And at the end of the river, I swam underneath the George Washington Bridge. And I breathed to my left-hand side I see all the skyscrapers of Manhattan. And then in the distance I can see the Statue of Liberty with Lady Liberty holding the torch. All I could think is, ‘Everything which we hold dear to ourselves. Everything relies on us being able to drink clean water and breathe fresh air and live and take care of this planet so it's habitable. Everything else is secondary. This is about sustaining life on earth.’
Melissa Fleming 27:58
I believe you swam at least five hours a day on this river. And I'm sure it wasn't easy. I mean, rivers have rapids. They have rocks. There are dams. What were some of the biggest challenges in navigating this swim?
Lewis Pugh 28:19
The biggest challenge was at the beginning where there was fear. Because I was so frightened that when you're going down the rapids, you hit a rock, and you can really injure yourself. And then the other section where I, you know, which was really, really challenging, was in the middle section when we started having rains. Because we know that when you have rains, sometimes sewage overflows into the river. We were lucky. I didn't get sick. I've done five swims down rivers in my life. And in three of them I got seriously sick. In two of them I didn't. The one was a swim down a river in Antarctica. Obviously there not many people living in Antarctica and the other one was the Hudson. So, I think that says a lot about how New Yorkers have really turned the fate of this river around.
Melissa Fleming 29:06
How is river swimming different from sea swimming?
Lewis Pugh 29:10
With the sea, obviously, you have the buoyancy because it's saltwater. With rivers you don't have that buoyancy and so you've got to really concentrate on lifting your backside out of the water. The other thing about river swimming is that when it comes to pollution, there's obviously pollution in the sea, but in rivers it’s highly concentrated. And so, getting sick in rivers is a real risk. So those are the two main differences that one faces between these two environments.
Melissa Fleming 29:42
When you arrived in lower Manhattan, how did you feel when you emerged from the water?
Lewis Pugh 29:48
Exhausted because it was such a long swim. But also incredibly rejuvenated, because of all the people I'd met. And because, you know, when I went into the swim, I thought this could turn out very differently. You hit a rock, or you know, you get pollution sickness, sickness from pollution. This could have a very different outcome.
Melissa Fleming 30:15
What's keeping you awake at night?
Lewis Pugh 30:19
Penguins. And I say that because that first swim which I did from Robben Island, I remember looking back and seeing all those penguins all along the beach. African penguins. And they're magnificent and they make so much noise. And I dove into the water, and I swam back to Cape Town. I went back there a few years ago. And their numbers just absolutely plummeted. I found about four or five penguins there left on the island. And what the scientists are saying now is that it's these three things which have all come together. It's pollution. You can get a big oil spill. It can literally wipe out the whole colony. It’s climate change. So, the prey species are moving further away. So, the penguins have to go a long way to get their food. And it's overfishing. We've literally got fishing right on the edge of these penguin colonies.
And so, what the scientists are saying now is that over the next 10-20 years, these animals will go functionally extinct on the west coast of Southern Africa. And I just… I look at that as emblematic of what's happening around the world that we really have to focus on it. I think the other thing which keeps me up at night is, you know, I run a foundation. I've got a team and I want to do loads of expeditions. I want to carry this message into different parts of the world. And it's obviously difficult to raise funds for these things. And so that certainly keeps me up at night.
Melissa Fleming 31:53
How long do you want to keep doing this?
Lewis Pugh 31:57
Well, I've swum for 35 years. And I want to swim for another 35 years because I love swimming. But also, I want to keep carrying on talking about the health of the planet and what we can all do to save our planet. And so, if you think of it that way, I'm at the halfway mark now.
Melissa Fleming 32:21
So how can people help?
Lewis Pugh 32:25
You know, I want people to wake up every day and ask themselves a really, really simple question. And that is, what steps can I take today to help protect our planet? And they may be big steps, may be small steps. It depends on where you are in society. But what steps can I take today to help save the planet? And then I urge you to dive in and commit 100%. But we are now in a race against time. Be under no illusions about that.
Melissa Fleming 32:58
In this race, you'll be swimming, Lewis, I imagine.
Lewis Pugh 33:00
I'll keep on swimming.
Melissa Fleming 33:04
Lewis, it's been really great and inspirational to talk to you. Thanks for joining us.
Lewis Pugh 33:08
Thank you so much, Melissa.
Melissa Fleming 33:11
Thank you for listening to Awake at Night. We'll be back soon with more incredible and inspiring stories from people working against huge challenges to make this world a better and safer place.
To find out more about the series and the extraordinary people featured, do visit un.org/awake-at-night. Do subscribe wherever you get your podcasts and please take the time to review us. It helps more people find the show.
Thanks to my editor Bethany Bell, to Adam Paylor, Josie Le Blond, and my colleagues at the UN: Katerina Kitidi, Roberta Politi, Geneva Damayanti, Tulin Battikhi, Bissera Kostova, Anzhelika Devis, Carlos Macias and the team at the UN studio. The original music for this podcast was written and performed by Nadine Shah and produced by Ben Hillier. Additional music was by Pascal Wyse.
United Nations' Under-Secretary-General for UN Department Global Communications (DGC)