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WRI Celebrates Leaders in Sustainability at 30th Anniversary Dinner

2012 is WRI’s 30th anniversary year. To celebrate, we are bringing together big thinkers from government, business, and philanthropy who share a strong commitment to solving the world’s biggest environmental and development challenges.

Tonight’s gala dinner in New York City will be both a celebration of WRI’s achievements over the past three decades and a launch pad for its future efforts.

We will honor two people who have made outstanding contributions to the global environment. Jonathan Lash —president of Hampshire College, who, as WRI’s president for 18 years, pursued and personified our goal of putting ideas into action—and WRI Board member Stephen Ross, chairman of Related Companies, a global real estate company, and who is a proven leader in sustainability. We will also introduce Andrew Steer, currently the World Bank’s special envoy on climate change, who will take the helm as WRI’s third president in August. New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg will be our special guest at the dinner. Mayor Bloomberg has a strong track record of tackling environment, health, and transport issues in New York City – and he is now scaling these up around the globe. The event will be chaired by Dan Doctoroff, president of Bloomberg and a WRI Board member. Bloomberg set a goal to reduce its corporate carbon footprint by an ambitious 50 percent below 2007 levels by 2013.

Other speakers include James Harmon, chair of WRI’s Board of Directors, whose distinguished career spans both business and public service, including serving as Chairman of Caravel Management and as a former President of the U.S. Export-Import Bank of the United States.

All these leaders – from the public service, business, and non-profit worlds – exemplify what WRI stands for and how we work. They focus on ideas, not ideology, and they value results over partisanship. They seek practical and long-lasting solutions to today’s global environmental and development challenges. They believe in tying research and analysis to results and to scaling up solutions. Above all they believe in – and often exemplify – the power of innovation and big ideas to make a difference.

Big ideas are needed now more than perhaps any other time in modern human history. Ranging from climate change to water scarcity to food insecurity, the challenges facing our planet are huge. This makes WRI’s efforts to move human society to protect Earth’s environment more urgent than ever.

Together with our more than 500 partners worldwide, we intend to respond with new thinking and a determined pursuit of transformative solutions. Since 2008, despite the global economic downturn, WRI has significantly increased its annual operating budget (to $45 million) and staff (to more than 240 people). We have deepened our presence in the key emerging economies of China, India, and Brazil, while pursuing projects in dozens of countries in Africa, Asia, and the Americas.

As WRI enters its fourth decade, we believe the institute is well placed to help catalyze the overdue global transition to inclusive and sustainable development.

In pursuing this goal, we will be building on the valiant efforts and groundbreaking approaches of the two individuals we honor tonight: Jonathan Lash and Stephen Ross.

Read about WRI’s history and check out our new interactive timeline.

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