We are in the middle of the most dynamic period that Conservation International has seen in its 21 years of existence.
As leaders of this organization, we tried to anticipate many of the challenges we now face. Even as threats to the environment have worsened, we find ourselves in a better position than ever before to meet them. Climate change and rising demands for natural resources imperil the biological diversity and healthy ecosystems that benefit people everywhere. Food shortages and other agricultural crises are worsening. Cyclone Nargis in Myanmar killed tens of thousands of people and destroyed mangroves, which serve as a buffer against environmental threats — and which protect communities from natural disasters like the 2004 tsunami.
So what has been CI’s response? We reimagined our organization in two very significant ways. First, we developed a new climate change strategy that employs our scientific expertise and key global relationships to attract new partnerships and to leverage new international investment opportunities. We built a business plan and launched an unprecedented communications campaign to increase public awareness of the crucial role that the conservation of tropical forests plays in combating climate change.
The Bali Conference in December helped kickstart the recognition of the importance of tropical forest preservation. Now, we immediately grab people’s attention when we tell them that at least 20 percent* of all greenhouse gas emissions come from the slashing and burning of tropical forests.
The second thing we did at CI was re-examine our mission. Given the attention focused on climate change, people all over the world are beginning to understand that human well-being and sustainable development depend upon the conservation and maintenance of healthy ecosystems. The work we have been doing for two decades ideally positions us to promote human well-being by designing and demonstrating solutions to the threats impinging on the conservation of biodiversity.
As we recalibrate the way we work at CI, we will hold ourselves more accountable than ever before to one of our founding principles: Human societies will thrive when they live in balance with nature.
We pledge to move forward with this vision using all the resources available to us. We will seek like-minded allies in government, in the corporate world, in communities and among opinion leaders. Our science and commitment to innovative solutions will determine our path. Support from our great community of partners will get us to our goal.
As leaders, we recognize the extraordinary nature of this time. We are at what historians call an “open moment,” when societies come together and real change is possible. It’s fair to say the conservation movement has never witnessed such a moment. Our job is to muster the will and the talent and the leadership to get it done, to harness nature to heal the Earth. And that is what we intend to do.
Peter A. Seligmann, Chairman and CEO
Russell A. Mittermeier, President
READ MORE: Download our 2007 Annual Report.
*CI regularly reassesses our assumptions and conclusions to ensure they are consistent with the most current and reliable data sources available so that we are delivering accurate and up-to-date information. Accordingly, in December 2009, we updated our estimates related to global greenhouse gas emissions to reflect the best and most current science. We now estimate that 16% of greenhouse gas emissions result from deforestation and logging.
See our deforestation, logging and GHG emissions factsheet (PDF - 2.7KB) for details and data sources.