On June 14th, some 200 guests gathered at Casa Del Mar in Santa Monica to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Conservation International (CI).
With the sun setting on the Pacific Ocean just outside the ballroom, CI Chairman’s Council Member and Dinner Committee Host Gillian Wynn welcomed attendees and announced the launch of the Sony and Conservation International Visual Storytelling Alliance — a commitment by Sony to fund and help distribute videos about CI’s most successful field projects — with a spectacular 3D short video, which CI’s Visual Storytelling Team shot, wrote and directed, and co- produced with Sony Pictures.
From close on-screen encounters with leaping lemurs and darting fish, guests were transported through the power of imagery to an underwater world as award- winning marine photojournalist Brian Skerry shared photos from his new book Ocean Soul and recounted touching and sometimes shocking stories illustrating the urgency of protecting our oceans. Brian transitioned from his presentation into a conversation with, Beau Wrigley, CI Board Member and founder of the Ocean Health Index, and CI’s Chief Scientist for the Oceans Greg Stone. Each shared their perspectives on why protecting our oceans is such a pressing concern and why healthy oceans are so important to the wellbeing of humanity.
Chairman’s Council Member Nancy Ritter talked about what her involvement with CI over the years and welcomed Chairman and CEO Peter Seligmann to the stage. Peter spoke 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 on May 24-25. 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.
In all, the evening raised over $500,000 in support of CI’s efforts to protect nature for the well-being of all people.