Conservation International Names Newest Fellow: Jacinda Ardern, Former Prime Minister of New Zealand-Aotearoa and Environmental Advocate

November 6, 2023

Ardern becomes Conservation International’s sixth Arnhold Distinguished Fellow

ARLINGTON, Va. (Nov. 6, 2023) – Conservation International today welcomed Dame Jacinda Ardern, GNZM, to its Arnhold Distinguished Fellowship Program. Ardern will serve a two-year Fellowship term during which she will advocate internationally to strengthen and rebalance humanity’s interdependent relationship with nature.

Working alongside Conservation International leadership, Ardern will focus on engaging and addressing the most pressing issues affecting the Pacific and Antarctica.

“From the beginning of my time in the New Zealand Parliament, I’ve advocated for global climate action,” said Ardern. “My passion and sense of urgency on this issue has only increased over the last 15 years, especially as I witnessed firsthand the impact of climate change in our region. When I left office, there were issues I wanted to continue to amplify and advocate for – climate action was one of them. That’s why I consider it a privilege to be able to work with Conservation International, an organization with a passion and commitment to the planet and its people.”

While her career in public service spans leadership roles with the country’s Labour Party and various Minister positions, Ardern is best known for her service as Prime Minister of New Zealand-Aotearoa from 2017 to 2023. In late 2020, she issued the country’s Climate Emergency Declaration, becoming only the 17th nation to do so. In the realm of biodiversity, four different species bear her name – three insects and a lichen.

Earlier this year, she joined the Board of Trustees for The Earthshot Prize, which was launched by Prince William in 2020 to search for and scale the most innovative solutions to the world’s greatest environmental challenges. She will continue to serve as an Earthshot Trustee in tandem with her new role at Conservation International.

As only the sixth Arnhold Distinguished Fellow, Ardern will join an exclusive group of leaders in the environmental advocacy space, three of whom have also served as the head of their respective states – Colombia, Iceland and Botswana. Ardern has been the only new Fellow named to the Program in 2023.

“Dame Jacinda Ardern has modeled the kind of leadership, empathy and determination required to deliver crucial environmental and climate solutions," said Dr. M. Sanjayan, Conservation International's Chief Executive Officer. "Her decision to join Conservation International as an Arnhold Distinguished Fellow is a win for the entire conservation and climate movement.”

“Change at the scale and speed we need requires financial breakthroughs and imaginative problem-solving. It also requires political courage. As Prime Minister, Dame Ardern skillfully navigated those waters to deliver real progress. We are delighted that she has chosen Conservation International as a place to channel her talents and ambitions," said Sanjayan.

During her tenure as Prime Minister, Ardern proved herself to be a leading environmental advocate, cultivating relationships and positions that will carry on through her work with Conservation International. She oversaw the New Zealand-Aotearoa ban on new offshore oil and gas exploration and the phase-out of single-use plastic and plastic bags. In support of the Paris Agreement, her administration passed the Zero Carbon Act which set a new emissions reduction target for the country. Under her leadership, the country also put in place new legislations that require companies to report climate risks, incentivize Electric Vehicles and – becoming the first country in the world to do so – propose a price on agricultural emissions.

To date, the Arnhold Distinguished Fellowship Program has welcomed only five other leaders. This unique fellowship program enlists visionaries to elevate the climate and conservation dialogue to the highest levels of government and industry, helping to create the political space for diplomacy and bold action on some of the most pressing challenges of our times. Named for one of Conservation International’s most dedicated and beloved Board members, Henry Arnhold, the Program was established in 2018 to honor Arnhold’s memory and his lifelong dedication to peace, human rights and conservation.


About Conservation International: Conservation International protects nature for the benefit of humanity. Through science, policy, fieldwork and finance, we spotlight and secure the most important places in nature for the climate, for biodiversity and for people. With offices in 30 countries and projects in more than 100 countries, Conservation International partners with governments, companies, civil society, Indigenous peoples and local communities to help people and nature thrive together. Go to for more, and follow our work on Conservation NewsFacebookTwitterTikTokInstagram and YouTube.