CI had many successes in fiscal year 2008 (FY08). Working intensively with partners across the globe we jointly ensured the protection of 280,000 square kilometers of forests and marine areas. From remote marine sanctuaries in Indonesia’s Raja Ampat to enormous expanses of tropical forests in Brazil’s Amazon, these newly established protected areas afford refuge for countless species of plants and animals. Our team of conservationists secured a debt-for-nature swap in Costa Rica; and continued our partnerships with McDonald’s, Wal-Mart, Starbucks and other corporations that have committed to essential principles of sustainability. We also actively participated in the U.N. Climate Change conference in Bali, and encouraged and supported government funding commitments to stop tropical deforestation, which led to the formulation of our climate change business strategy and the launch of our “Lost There, Felt Here” awareness campaign.
The past year also saw the “Blue Auction” in Monaco, which raised money through the purchasing of naming rights of new marine species; the publication of Tim Killeen’s startling “Perfect Storm” paper about the risks of unchecked development in the Amazon; and the extension by the government of Kiribati of the Phoenix Islands protected area to become the largest marine protected area in the world.
If anything, however, the sense of urgency flowing through the conservation community has become more acute. Two sobering facts have emerged: Since 1990, the planet has lost nearly half a million square miles of forest, an area twice the size of France, and close to one-third of the planet’s coral reefs have seriously deteriorated.
Recognizing this urgency, CI has just emerged from a careful and lengthy examination of our mission and strategy, and we have come to some conclusions that will change the way CI operates.
One idea dominated our thinking during strategic planning: Until societies understand that humanity needs nature, economic development will increasingly undercut conservation. The result will be accelerated loss of the services and benefits that nature provides to humankind.
So, human well-being through ecosystem and biodiversity conservation becomes CI’s retooled mission. CI has always emphasized human welfare in our work, but it now will be the guiding principle of what we do and how we interact with partners around the world.
This has major implications for how we do our work. How do we demonstrate to the public and to international and national leaders that sustained human well-being requires healthy ecosystems and that, over the long term, the loss of nature’s diversity and vitality will exacerbate the plight of the world’s poor and imperil all communities on Earth?
We will need to work closely with existing partners and expand our engagements with the institutions and nations that drive unsustainable development.
We will need to ensure that we have a place at the table with those who are making enormously important decisions about energy, food security and development strategies, so that the conservation of biodiversity is not sacrificed to short-term thinking.
We must convince our partners that it is possible to achieve sustainable development and improve human well-being only if development is built upon a foundation of biodiversity and ecosystem conservation.
We are excited and invigorated by this challenge. It is time for all of us to move the environment off the sidelines and onto the frontlines.
Peter A. Seligmann, Chairman and CEO
Russell A. Mittermeier, President
Niels Crone, Chief Operating Officer
READ MORE: Download our 2008 Annual Report (PDF - 6.5 MB).