Earlier this month, Conservation International held its annual New York dinner, and the event was one attended by more than 450 people. Of course, with hosts like former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and actor Harrison Ford, it wasn’t an event to be missed. And in its sixteenth year, the dinner raised more than $1.6 million to support Conservation International.
Ford is the Vice-Chairman for CI, and after an introduction by co-founder, CEO and Chairman Peter Seligmann, he and Secretary Clinton took to the stage. Together they formed a powerful duo, discussing conservation effort, environmental challenges, poaching, climate change, and much more.
At one point during their 45-minute conversation, Secretary Clinton touched on the poaching of African elephants, calling it a “huge, international criminal enterprise,” that has morphed into something different than it used to be. “It is no longer taking a tusk to the nearest market. It’s carried out by highly armed, vicious bands who come in helicopters wearing night goggles.”
Ford talked about the connection between economic wellbeing of nations and environmental health—a connection that he says is a direct one. Failure to address environmental health issues could lead to serious national security issues.
“We have reached a point in our human history where nature may be unable to support the weight and the appetites of the planet’s human population,” he said. “We’ve weakened the natural world’s capacity to provide us with fresh water natural pollinators for our crops, food, botanical sources of future medicines.”
Alejandro and Andres Santo Domingo, the sons of Julio Mario Santo Domingo, also attended the gala dinner. Santo Domingo was being honored for his many years of work with CI, in which he built a successful conservation awareness program in Colombia.
“He has influenced our board, influenced our organization and impacted everybody in our institution. He was one of the most extraordinary men that I ever encountered; a citizen of the world,” said Seligmann. Andres, Santo Domingo’s youngest son, has remained active within Conservation International, carrying the torch that his father once held aloft.
Julio Mario Santo Domingo was, until his death, the head of the Santo Domingo Group, which owns the second largest amount of shares in SABMiller, the world’s second largest beer company. That responsibility has now been passed onto his son Alejandro.