Some 300 guests gathered at The Pierre in New York City to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Conservation International (CI) and to honor long-time supporter and board member Henry Arnhold — affectionately known to his family, friends and colleagues as "Uncle Henry" — for his unwavering pursuit of a more peaceful and sustainable world.
In what felt more like a fairy-tale forest than a hotel ballroom, speakers including James Wolfensohn, Roger Altman, Jody Arnhold and Heidi Miller extolled Arnhold for his brilliance and his generosity. At the height of the celebration, Peter Seligmann awarded Arnhold the Global Conservation Hero Award and announced the creation of the Institute for Environmental Sustainability and Peace at Conservation International, founded by the Arnhold family.
In his remarks, Peter Seligmann also spoke with great enthusiasm and candor about CI's founding in 1987 and some of its greatest achievements: pioneering debt-for-nature swaps in the organization's first year; creating forest-friendly economic opportunities for local communities by helping them market tagua nut buttons to clothiers like The Gap; and, more recently, working with 15 Pacific Island nations on the creation of the Pacific Oceanscape, the largest marine conservation initiative in history.
Seligmann also shared his perspective on the first-ever Summit for Sustainability in Africa, co- hosted by the Government of Botswana and Conservation International the previous week. The historic gathering of African heads of state and private and independent sector partners resulted in the Gaborone Declaration, whereby 10 nations reaffirmed their commitment to sustainably manage their natural capital and integrate its value into their national accounting — and challenged all nations to join them in creating a more secure future for generations to come.
The reminder that our actions today will have enormous consequences for our children and grandchildren punctuated a program that opened with youthful exuberance. In a nod to Henry Arnhold's love of the arts, and in recognition of the important connections between nature and the human spirit, children from Ballet Hispanico dazzled the guests with two dances — and reminded all in attendance of the urgency of CI’s mission.
In all, the evening raised $1,050,000 in support of CI’s efforts to protect nature for the well-being of all people.