In 2016, CI invited three world leaders, Christiana Figueres, H.E. Anote Tong and H.E. Olafur Grimsson, to serve as Lui Walton Distinguished Fellows to help capture the growing interest among nations in the value of protecting nature for greater economic security and growth and further amplify conservation. Over the past two years, these exceptional world leaders have applied their respective expertise and global standing in climate negotiation and the framing of sustainability-related policies to inspire new collaboration and sustainability agendas among other world leaders. Serving also as mentors to emerging leaders and practitioners within and outside of CI, the Distinguished Fellows have helped fortify and spread conservation work globally.
As an example of the programme’s powerful influence, Olafur Grimsson has been helping to ensure that Iceland’s first-in-class sustainable fisheries innovations and policies are introduced and adopted more broadly by other world leaders, funders and high-level media. To this end, over the summer he led a successful fisheries exchange with Pacific Island leaders, fisheries experts at the Arctic Assembly and CI leadership in Iceland. The direct result has been the development of a new catch-based fisheries management model specific to the Pacific Islands. It also spawned new advancement in Pacific Islands climate change policies, fisheries monitoring and compliance and deeper collaboration between the Pacific Oceanscape Alliance and the Arctic Circle Assembly. With over 60% of the world’s tuna catch originating from the Pacific Islands, the value and potential for this model is enormous.
Similarly, Christiana Figueres, highly visible and respected as one of the world’s leading spokespeople in climate negotiation, has been traveling the globe as a Lui Walton Distinguished Fellow to impart our shared vision for a bold, ambitious and wide-reaching climate communications campaign that articulates why global greenhouse gas emissions must start declining rapidly by 2020. Key to her message, which she shared at the United Nations climate COP 23 in Bonn, has been the importance of land and ocean protection and the need to rally around CI’s goal of restoring key forested areas — equal to the size of South America — by 2020.
Equally importantly, Anote Tong’s quest to bring exposure and justice to island nations, which are experiencing the impact of climate change through rising sea levels, will reach new heights as his story is projected across the silver screen at Sundance in the new feature film, Anote’s Ark.