Ian Kiernan

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Ian Kiernan

Ian Kiernan July 2013.jpg
Kiernan in 2013
Ian Bruce Carrick Kiernan

(1940-10-04)4 October 1940
Died16 October 2018(2018-10-16) (aged 78)
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
OccupationEnvironmentalist, Yachtsman, Property Developer, Builder
Years active1993–2018
Known forClean Up the World movement

Ian Bruce Carrick Kiernan AO (4 October 1940 – 16 October 2018) was an Australian yachtsman, property developer, builder, and environmental campaigner, known for co-founding with Kim McKay the not-for-profit Clean Up Australia campaign in 1989 and, in 1993, a similar Clean Up the World operation, serving as the event's chairman, the annual initiative attracted participation from 30 million volunteers in 80 countries.

Early life[edit]

Kiernan was born in Sydney to George Arthur and Leslie Katherine Kiernan. He was educated at The Scots College in Sydney, The Armidale School in northern New South Wales, and the Sydney Technical College,[1] where he trained as a builder.[1]


Kiernan was a yachtsman, sailing competitively for more than 40 years and representing Australia at the Admiral's, Southern Cross, Dunhill, Clipper, Kenwood and Trans Pacific Cup competitions.[2] In 1986/87 Kiernan represented Australia in the BOC Challenge solo around-the-world yacht race. He finished 6th out of a fleet of 25 yachts from 11 countries,[3] setting an Australian record for a solo circumnavigation of the world.[4]


During the BOC Challenge, Kiernan was appalled by the amount of rubbish choking the world's oceans.[5] With the support of a committee of friends, he organised a community event – Clean Up Sydney Harbour on Sunday 8 January 1989. 40,000 volunteers turned out to help and collected over 5000 tonnes.[6][5]

The success of the first event in 1989 sparked national interest. Since then more than seven million people have heeded the call through annual Clean Up Australia Days, Friday Schools Clean Up Days and Business Clean Ups.[7] Clean up Australia's mission is "To inspire and work with communities to clean up and fix up our Earth."[8] The first "Clean Up the World" event took place in 1993.[9] By 2007 some 35 million people from 80 nations turned out to clean up their part of the world and in 2017 it was estimated that 120 nations took part.[9]


Kiernan's environmental efforts were recognised in 1991 when the Australian Government awarded him the Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM).[10] He was awarded Australian of the Year in 1994.[11] During the ceremony he assisted the Premier of New South Wales, John Fahey, stopping a "pseudo assassination" attempt on Charles, Prince of Wales. In 1995, he was appointed an Officer (AO) of the Order of Australia.[12]

In 1998, Kiernan was the recipient of the UNEP Sasakawa Prize.[13] The prize is awarded every year to individuals with an established track record of achievement and the potential to make outstanding contributions to the protection and management of the environment consistent with UNEP's policies and objectives.[14] He received the World Citizenship Award from the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts in 1999.

In 2001, Kiernan was awarded the Centenary Medal for "service to the Clean Up Australia Campaign and the Clean up the World Campaign".[15] In 2006 Kiernan received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Trust of Australia (NSW).[16] The 2007 Reader's Digest "Most Trusted Poll" voted Clean Up Australia as the country's most trusted environmental charity and Kiernan as the fourth "most trustworthy" Australian.[17] In 2008 in the same poll Kiernan was ranked number three.[18]

Kiernan was also the recipient of Toastmasters International Communications and Leadership Award, the Berger-Sullivan Tourism Award, the International Banksia Award and the 1999 Building World Citizenship Award.[19]


In 2014, Kiernan pleaded guilty to a DUI charge in Sydney, following a previous charge for the same offence in 1998. This record was cited by the New South Wales Government when Kiernan was overlooked for the honour of having a Sydney ferry named after him.[20]


He died on 16 October 2018[21] in Sydney at the age of 78. He is survived by his daughters Sally and Pip and son Jack.[7]


  1. ^ a b Pearce, Suzannah, ed. (17 November 2006). "KIERNAN Ian Bruce Carrick". Who's Who in Australia Live!. North Melbourne, Vic: Crown Content Pty Ltd.
  2. ^ "Ian Kiernan". VRROOM. National Archives of Australia. Retrieved 16 October 2018.
  3. ^ "The BOC Challenge 1986-1987 Results". solocircumnavigation.com. Retrieved 7 June 2014.
  4. ^ "Sailor says If you don't Clean Up Australia, who will?". Sail-World. 28 February 2009. Retrieved 16 October 2018.
  5. ^ a b "Clean up the world: Exploring a successful Australian environmentalist". Omni. 16 (4): 18. January 1994. ProQuest 229742683.
  6. ^ "The Clean Up Story". Archived from the original on 12 October 2008.
  7. ^ a b "Clean Up Australia founder Ian Kiernan dies". ABC News. 17 October 2018. Retrieved 16 October 2018.
  8. ^ "Mission and vision - Clean Up Australia Day". Archived from the original on 20 December 2009.
  9. ^ a b McKay, Jennifer (July 2017). "A Healthier Planet". Defence Journal; Karachi. 20 (12): 41–42. ProQuest 1923654387.
  10. ^ "Ian Bruce Carrick Kiernan OAM". Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. Retrieved 24 February 2012.
  11. ^ Lewis, Wendy (2010). Australians of the Year. Pier 9 Press. ISBN 978-1-74196-809-5.
  12. ^ "Ian Bruce Carrick Kiernan AO". Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. Retrieved 24 February 2012.
  13. ^ UNEP SASAKAWA Environment Prize laureates 1998.
  14. ^ Mr. Ian Bruce Carrick Kiernan, Winner 1998 . Archived 4 July 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  15. ^ "Ian Kiernan". Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. Retrieved 24 February 2012.
  16. ^ Speaker Profile of Ian Kiernan AO at The Celebrity Speakers Bureau
  18. ^ Australia's Most Trusted People 2008 Archived 2 January 2009 at the Wayback Machine
  19. ^ World Citizenship Award Awardees Archived 10 June 2007 at the Wayback Machine. www.wagggsworld.org
  20. ^ "Drink-driving record sunk Clean Up Australia Day founder Ian Kiernan's chance for ferry name fame". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 16 October 2018.
  21. ^ "In Memory of Ian Kiernan, AO". Clean Up. 17 October 2018. Archived from the original on 4 January 2019. Retrieved 17 October 2018.