Tim Smit KBE – Chief Executive & co-founder, Eden Project


Eden ProjectTim Smit KBE was born in Holland on 25 September 1954. He read Archaeology and Anthropology at Durham University. Tim worked for ten years in the music industry as composer/producer in both rock music and opera. In 1987 Tim moved to Cornwall he and John Nelson together ‘discovered’ and then restored the Lost Gardens of Heligan. Tim remains a Director of the gardens to the present day.


Tim is Chief Executive and co-founder of the Award winning Eden Project near St Austell in Cornwall. Eden began as a dream in 1995 and opened its doors to the public in 2000, since when more than 12 million people have come to see what was once a sterile pit turned into a cradle of life containing world-class horticulture and startling architecture symbolic of human endeavour.  Eden has contributed over £1 billion into the Cornish economy.  Eden is proud of its success in changing people’s perception of the potential for and the application of science, by communicating and interpreting scientific concepts through the use of art, drama and storytelling as well as living up to its mission to take a pivotal role in local regeneration. It demonstrates once and for all that sustainability is not about sandals and nut cutlets, it is about good business practice and the citizenship values of the future.


“It is very simple…Humankind has fallen in love with itself and needs to fall back in love with being a part of nature. Rather cheerfully I commend the view that if we do not, we will fry and die and deserve to do so in a kind of purgatory of our own making. Alternatively we could rise to the challenge of remembering that we called ourselves Homo sapiens – the wise hominid, and I would like to think that we are capable of rising to the occasion, if we can we will have proved ourselves, if we don’t we will shuffle off this planet with a resounding raspberry from the rest of life ringing in our ears. We should rise to the challenge I think the alternative is so shameful!”


Tim is a Trustee, Patron and Board Member of a number of statutory and voluntary bodies both locally and nationally. He has received a variety of national awards including The Royal Society of Arts Albert Medal. In 2002 he was awarded an Honorary CBE in the New Years Honours List and In January 2011 he was appointed an honorary Knight Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (KBE) by Her Majesty the Queen.  He has received Honorary Doctorates and Fellowships from a number of Universities. Tim was voted ‘Great Briton of 2007’ in the Environment category of the Morgan Stanley Great Britons Awards.  Tim has taken part in a quantity of television and radio programmes and has been the subject of ‘This is Your Life’ and a guest on ‘Desert Island Discs’. He is a regular speaker at conferences, dinners and other events. Tim is the author of books about both Heligan and Eden and he has contributed to publications on a wide variety of subjects. He lives near Lostwithiel, Cornwall and in his free time he enjoys reading, film, music and art.


Eden Project