National Geographic: Summit Overcoming Extremes

Concept development, event & PR

National Geographic has been organizing a summit in Portugal for several years, a successful event that emphasizes the importance of the decisions we make today to determine tomorrow. In 2024, National Geographic wanted to organize the first summit in the Netherlands. Fitzgerald was asked to help think about the theme, content and production of the event.

It became a journey along extremes at the Bimhuis on the IJ in Amsterdam. Led by moderator Angelique Houtveen, known as speaker and radio host, the 200 attendees were taken on a journey along extremes and contrasting realities that we as humanity face today. Speakers from around the world shared their personal stories within the sub-themes of Defying Gravity, Defying Elements and Defying Divides.

Talking with Amy Steur (Sr. Account Executive) about the project. First thought when the briefing came in?

“That we could go all the way! The briefing was to create a translation of the successful summit that had been held in Portugal for several years. Everything was still open, from theme to speakers and location. Sure, there were conditions: the theme had to fit with television programming, the explorer society (a pool of scientists) had to have a role and the event had to be relevant to young and old. Other than that, we were given carte blanche.”

How did you come up with the theme “Overcoming Extremes”?

“We live in a time of extraordinary extremes. The earth just experienced its hottest summer ever. The richest 1% of the world emits twice as much carbon as the poorest 50%, and more than 800 million people are facing food insecurity. We wanted to bring together a group of people from different backgrounds to talk and brainstorm about this. The goal: to explore how we can harness human potential to overcome major societal challenges.”

What were the elements for success?

“There was a very diverse group of speakers, both in terms of topic presentation style. Among others, Deborah Armstrong (GM Disney Media Networks EMEA), Leland Melvin (Former NASA astronaut & NFL player) and climatologist Tom Matthews took the stage. Each gave a completely unique interpretation of one of the three themes: Defying Gravity, Defying Elements and Defying Divides. The speakers attracted a diverse audience. There were over 200 people, including journalists, scientists, astronauts, biologists, influencers and students.”

You had also invited students?

“We invited students from relevant programs. They are the new generation, working on future-proof solutions to today’s problems, and an important target group for National Geographic.”

Results in numbers

  • 200 attendees, a show up rate of 95%.
  • Around 50 publications, from social posts to online articles on, &C and NRC.
  • 100% of those surveyed would attend again at a next edition (even if it were paid)
  • We are in contact with National Geographic to start planning the 2025 edition!