Conservation International launches new Dream Team fellowship


​Former heads of state, UN climate lead diverse, talented inaugural class 

Arlington, VA — Today, Conservation International (CI) announced a new, multimillion-dollar fellowship initiative that joins world leaders with some of the most innovative minds in conservation. Named after its founders, CI Board members Dr. Yvonne L.K. Lui and Melani and Rob Walton, the 2017 Lui-Walton Innovators Fellowship program recognizes 15 Fellows from 11 countries with diverse backgrounds — from world leaders to first-in-class scientists and conservationists — all dedicated to saving nature and building a healthier, more productive planet.

Each Fellowship provides a full-time salaried position and travel for up to two years. Fellows will have access to resources, professional development and direct participation in CI programs. They will also have the chance to work with CI and its partners to tackle critical conservation challenges in priority areas around the world. The program will fund five classes of Fellows for at least 10 years — supporting approximately 75 “dream team” fellows in all.

The inaugural Fellows class includes Distinguished Fellows Christiana Figueres, former executive secretary of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change; Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson, former president of Iceland and chairman of the Arctic Circle; and Anote Tong, former president of Kiribati and head of Pacific Rising, an organization dedicated to helping the people of the low-lying Pacific island adapt and thrive in the face of rising sea levels caused by climate change. These world leaders bring expertise in policymaking, climate negotiating and addressing issues such as sea-level rise.

“Thirty years ago, CI was founded with a commitment to bring new ideas to the world of international conservation,” said CI Chairman and CEO Peter Seligmann. “The Lui-Walton Innovators Fellowship honors that tradition by linking rising stars in science and technology with seasoned leaders from government and civil society. We are grateful to the leadership of Dr. Yvonne Lui and Melani and Rob Walton for establishing this visionary program.”

“The environmental challenges that we face in our home countries require both local and global, sustainable solutions,” said Lui, founder of the Yvonne L.K. Lui Foundation. “I’m inspired by and proud to support this exceptional group of international Fellows in their efforts to safeguard the future of our planet and look forward to seeing the impact of the Lui-Walton Fellowship in China, and throughout the world.”

“I am very impressed with the depth of leadership and fresh thinking represented in this diverse and talented inaugural class of Fellows,” said Rob Walton, chairman of the board (retired) for Walmart Stores and CI Board member. “I believe unleashing human ingenuity is key to protecting our natural resources and helping create sustainable solutions for our future. Our Fellows initiative is off to a great start, and I’m grateful to be a part of it.”

For the list of named Fellows with their biographies, please click here. In addition to these Fellows, the following fellowship positions are still to be named:

  1. To-be-named Fellow, based in Hong Kong
  2. To-be-named Fellow, based in Mainland China
  3. To-be-named Fellow, focused on REDD+ climate solutions
  4. To-be-named Fellow, focused on global sustainable landscapes

The Fellowship will formally kick off on Thursday, February 16, with meetings and a high-level discussion with the Distinguished Fellows that will be facilitated by Laurene Powell Jobs on the path forward for collective action on climate change. The discussion will take place at CI’s quarterly Board dinner in Menlo Park, Calif., near where CI was incorporated 30 years ago.

Interview opportunities for the Lui-Walton Innovators Fellowship include:

  • Select Fellows listed above
  • Peter Seligmann, CI founder and CEO
  • Dr. M. Sanjayan, CI executive vice president and senior scientist
  • Program founders — Yvonne L.K. Lui, founder of the Yvonne L.K. Lui Foundation and Rob Walton, chairman of the board (retired) for Walmart Stores

Assets*: Headshots of the Fellows are available here.

About Conservation International

Conservation International (CI) uses an innovative blend of science, policy and partnerships to protect the nature people rely on for food, fresh water and livelihoods. Founded in 1987, CI works in more than 30 countries on six continents to ensure a healthy, prosperous planet that supports us all. Learn more about CI and follow our work on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

*By downloading these images you agree to the following licensing terms and conditions: CI grants to you, and your employer if you are acting on behalf of your employer, a royalty-free license to download images for one-time editorial use in coverage of CI. The downloaded assets may not be used for commercial, advertising or other revenue generating purposes without express written permission of CI. Credit information is provided in asset metadata under copyright line.


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