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Special Guests

Yann Quéffelec
© Louis Monnier


Yann Queffélec - Keynote Speaker

Son of Breton writer Henri Queffélec, Yann Queffélec began his literary career in 1981 with a biography of composer Béla Bartók (reprinted in October 2013). He won critical acclaim in 1985 with his first novel, set in Algeria during the war of independence, Le Charme noir. His following opus, The Wedding, won France’s most prestigious literary award, the Prix Goncourt, and went on to become an international bestseller. Yann Queffélec has since published some 40 books, among them a Lover’s Dictionary of Brittany in May 2013. He ranks as commander in the French Navy and belongs to the Circle of Naval Writers. Queffélec opens the second part of the ceremony in this dual capacity – as both a writer and a seaman.


François Sarano
© Stéphane Granzotto


François Sarano

An oceanographer and professional diver, François Sarano worked successively with Jacques-Yves Cousteau, with Deep Sea Odyssey (notably on their “Great Whites” expedition), and with WWF France on sustainable commercial fishing. From 2004 onward, he cooperated with Jacques Perrin and Jacques Cluzaud on the feature film Oceans and on the four-episode series Kingdom of the Oceans.

Sandra BESSUDO05
© Solange Gauthier


Sandra Bessudo

Sandra Bessudo is a marine biologist of French and Columbian ascent, with particular expertise with sharks. Her connection with Malpelo, a Pacific island some 270 nautical miles from the Columbian coast, began in 1987. She has since devoted herself to conserving its biovidersity, which includes internationally threatened marine species. Mapelo Flora and Fauna Reserve became a World Heritage Site in 2006. After advising the Columbian presidency on the environment, Sandra Bessudo now heads the Presidential Agency for International Cooperation.

Gildas 120x160
© Gildas Andriamalala


Gildas Andriamalala

Gildas Andriamalala joined Blue Venture in 1986 to develop small-scale fishing while conserving the environment on the southwest coast of Madagascar. He has since lived with the Vezo, an ancient fishing community. He contributed to the creation of Velondriake, the first locally managed marine protected area in Madagascar, which has now been emulated in other regions of the island.

Pisit Charsnoh
© Kirsten Holst / Rolex Awards


Pisit & Ploenjai Charsnoh

As early as 1985, Pisit Charsnoh and his wife, Ploenjai, devoted themselves to labor rights and rural development in rural communities of Thailand’s southwest coast, a region whose mangroves had been degraded by overfishing, logging and industrial shrimp. Their association, called Yadfon (“raindrop”), initiated a community mangrove forest (CMF) around Leam Markham. There are now some 10 locally managed mangroves modeled across Thailand.

Denis Cheyssoux
© Christian Couloumy


Denis Cheissoux - Master of Ceremony

For more than 30 years, reporter Denis Cheissoux has investigated environmental issues for Radio France, the country’s largest public radio station. He currently directs three programs, reflecting his interest in both nature and his fellow humans: “CO2 mon amour” looks out for solutions to the planet’s ills, big and small; “Qu’importe le chemin” relies on road maps to unfold guests’ life stories; and “L’as-tu lu mon p’tit loup” reviews children’s books. “CO2 mon amour” received in 2008 the “best program” award from the League of French-Language Public Radios. When he is not cycling, Denis also works for television and writes for “Terre Sauvage”, a nature and outdoors magazine.

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