Verena Häussermann

Explorer of chilean Patagonia

“My trace is to support the conservation of Chilean Patagonia to safeguard this natural treasure for future generations.”

Vote for Vreni

About Vreni

Who am I?

My name is Verena Häussermann, I am a biologist, marine explorer, director of Huinay Scientific Field Station and the first Chilean woman to win the Rolex Award for enterprise. I came to Chile in 1994 and immediately fell in love with the Chilean sea. Twenty years ago I dove for the first time in Chilean Patagonia. The nature is very rich, diverse and important for its inhabitants, and at the same time very poorly known and threatened. I realized that I want to dedicate my life to the discovery, understanding and conservation of this treasure. Chilean Patagonia consists of a labyrinth of islands, channels and fjords, inhabited by thousands of species – hundreds of these still unknown. How could I not be fascinated by the Patagonian sea?

We all depend on the sea, in Chile even more than in other countries. The conservation of this rich ocean is not only a moral obligation for the world, but a socioeconomic necessity for Chile. But we cannot preserve the ocean without knowing it, without understanding it.

I am chilean

Home is where your heart is.

I was born and raised in Germany which clearly left its traces, not only in my accent. But home is where the heart is, where I see my destiny. And for me this clearly is Chilean Patagonia. Therefore I adopted the Chilean nationality.

I was nominated for my scientific work
exploring Chilean Patagonia.

Why am I nominated for
“Women who leave a trace”?

I feel honored to have been chosen for this campaign and I hope that it helps to attract people’s attention towards the Chilean sea, to its beauty, its uniqueness and its threats.
Uno of eight species we have found were new to science. We are just starting to understand this unique ecosystem, and we are not yet capable of managing it in a sustainable way.
For me this is an intellectual and emotional challenge. As a scientist I see my task to support by generating the data that are needed to take good decisions.

But I also have the desire to share the fascination and love that connects me with the marine life. I wish that the decision makers understand what is at stake. I want that these ecosystems are a source of income and joy not only today, but also for generations to come. I wish that for our children this natural heritage can be the same source of fascination and happiness as it is for me. I am passionate about supporting marine protected areas for Chilean Patagonia.


Discovering and Protecting chilean Patagonia

Congreso Futuro

In January 2018, I was invited to present in the furure’s congress within the session “Connecting with the planet”.

Rolex Award for Enterprise

In 2016, my project “Patagonia in depth – Discovering new species in the unknown depth of Chilean Patagonia” to understand its ecosystems and support its sustainable use and conservation” was rewarded with the Rolex Award for Enterprise.

Ballenas varadas en Patagonia

In 2015, together with my team, I discovered 337 dead whales during an expedition to a remote area of Chilean Patagonia. More Patagonian species are experiencing mass mortalities, including corals, sardines, jellyfish and molluscs.

It is very important for the marine life

Why should I win this prize?

I hope to win this prize not for me, but for the marine life of Chilean Patagonia getting into the focus of the people. Because we only protect what we love, but we can only love what we know. I want to bring this hidden world to the people, so that they get to know and love it and thus help to protect it. It is urgent, we are loosing diversity as you read this, and we have to stop this development and save one of the last remaining wildernesses on earth. With good spatial planning, we can combine sustainable use for the locals and conservation.