• Editor

Bringing together people and initiatives, one of Marc's talents

We talked to Ellen Cornelissen, one of Marc's four older sisters. She is also a jury member and Friend of the Award.

"Marc was enterprising and curious about all kinds of things from an early age. For instance, he disassembled a tape deck and put it back together just for fun. Or he would short-circuit the plugs in the meter box because he wanted to know how electricity worked. Marc was also often roaming around in the forest, where he built huts, and he went on frequent fishing trips with his father. He was born with a love for nature. At a later age, this led him to travel to the Arctic often. He was a prolific traveler, making many trips and expeditions to Asia, Africa, and South America. After high school, while studying at the Delft Technical University, he worked at a cinema in the Hague. His friend, who also worked there, got him excited about a trip to Canada. Marc thought “I will go on this one expedition and then I'll find a job”. But he never realized his plans to become an architect. Instead, he started doing PR work for Mother Earth. His architectural knowledge did come in handy from time to time. For example, he designed his sleds and the molds to make them. He had a company pour the material. He also built his own weather station. And because he had a lot of time on his hands while at the South Pole, he invented a bread maker."


Death Marc and his teammate Philip de Roo died on April 29, 2015, when they fell through the sea ice during an expedition from Resolute Bay to Bathurst Island in Arctic Canada. Earlier that day, they had been drilling and taking measurements to investigate the ice area. Marc's body was found on May 8; Philip's body was never recovered. Ellen: "The time between what was initially a missing person case and finding the body was a horrible experience. After Marc's death, we received countless reactions from people from all over the world who had known him. The memorial service for Marc and Philip, in November 2015 at the World Forum in the Hague, was impressive."

The creation of the Marc Cornelissen Brightlands Award

Maurice Olivers, Communications & Branding Manager at Brightlands, came up with the idea of linking Marc's name to an award that called on sustainability pioneers. Ellen: "Maurice contacted our family and asked if we liked the idea. The Marc Cornelissen Brightlands Award is a wonderful initiative to spread my brother's legacy in the context of a Brightlands community that is working on making the world more sustainable. Marc was not an activist; he was not the type to fight on the barricades. But he had a unique talent to make others enthusiastic about his mission, to connect people from all parts of life, be it business, education, politics, or even the royal family.


Royal decoration

"If he had lived on, he would have continued to bring initiatives and people together. He was good at that, just as he was good in connecting technology and science to practice." This is also evident from the fact that Marc was named an Officer in the Order of Orange-Nassau one day before his death. His wife Marijke and daughter Jill received this royal decoration in his name in September 2015.