Packard Foundation Pledges $480 Million to Ocean Conservation Over the Next Five Years - Kanebridge News
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Packard Foundation Pledges $480 Million to Ocean Conservation Over the Next Five Years

Mon, Apr 29, 2024 10:41amGrey Clock 2 min

Over the next five years, the David and Lucile Packard Foundation will be committing US$480 million to an initiative dedicated to ocean conservation.

The foundation made the announcement on April 17 during the closing ceremony of the ninth Our Ocean Conference, held in Athens, Greece.

“Ocean science and conservation are core to the Packard Foundation’s DNA,” wrote Meg Caldwell, interim vice president of environment and science, in an email. “The next phase of the Packard Foundation’s commitment to ocean health, the 10-year (2023-33) Ocean Initiative, aims to protect and restore ocean ecosystems for people and nature, now and in the future.”

The support from the funding will be focused in four countries, Chile, China, the U.S., and Indonesia, which were selected because of their “biological significance, human dependence on ocean ecosystems, and opportunities to affect positive changes,” Caldwell says.

The foundation’s ocean initiative will specifically address three primary threats: climate change, unsustainable overfishing, and habitat loss. These issues not only harm ocean ecosystems, but also the countless people who rely on the ocean for “their livelihoods, nutrition, and cultural heritage, disproportionately impacting Indigenous peoples and coastal communities,” Caldwell says.

Caldwell emphasises the need to include these groups of people in the conversations and actions regarding ocean conservation.

“Weak governance and seafood supply chains that put profit ahead of people compound these threats, allowing human rights abuses and inequities to persist,” she says.

The foundation plans to address these threats by funding work within three systems: civil society, to strengthen “the engagement of ocean-reliant communities” to create more inclusive solutions; seafood supply chains, to end illegal fishing, overfishing, and human rights abuses; and governance, to enact reform that will protect both the ocean and the reliant communities.

The Packard Foundation is also a part of the Ocean Resilience and Climate Alliance, which is a philanthropic initiative working to address the climate crisis and its damage to the ocean. ORCA’s mission is “to provide a surge of more than US$250 million dollars in grants over four years to catalyze work across a handful of immediate ocean-climate priorities,” according to their website.


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Milestone birthdays and anniversaries, weddings, and graduations are momentous life occasions that some like to mark with large and elaborate celebrations.

And the deep-pocketed set are still in catch-up mode after a party-throwing standstill during the pandemic that went on for many months during the height of the lockdowns and social distancing. Bashes since then have become ever more extravagant and experiential—mere get-togethers, they’re not.

Hosts are also seeking any excuse to throw an event and having parties with the same “wow” factor for far less significant reasons, or for micro-occasions as they’re called, and even “just because,” according to luxury event planners who work with this elite set.

Colin Cowie, a planner based in New York and Miami who regularly orchestrates multimillion-dollar gatherings and was behind Jennifer Lopez’s and Ben Affleck’s wedding, calls it the “event revolution.”

“Large-scale events have become the norm,” Cowie says. “The wealthy, who are used to celebrating their life moments in a big way couldn’t do anything during the pandemic and are now going all out for anything they host.”

His company, Colin Cowie Lifestyle, plans 30% more events today than pre-Covid and has a lineup booked for the next two years. An example includes an upcoming million-dollar dinner party in the Hamptons simply to socialise with friends. It’s an affair with free-flowing Dom Perignon, centre-cut filet mignons, and unlimited caviar.

Colin Cowie Lifestyle plans 30% more events today than pre-Covid
Calen Rose

Other high-end planners also attribute the rise of over-the-top celebrations to a “live life to the fullest” attitude that’s become prevalent in the last few years. But they say that these parties aren’t necessarily about spending more than before—rather, they’re increasingly creative, thoughtful, and, with respect to weddings, longer.

Lynn Easton, a Charleston-based planner, says that her typical wedding used to span two days and entailed a rehearsal dinner plus the wedding itself. “Now, it’s a five-day bonanza with events like a groomsman lunch,” Easton says.

Easton also plans glitzy milestone birthdays such as one for a 60th where the host flew 60 friends and family to a private island. Dinners were multi-hour affairs in various locations around the isle with the showpiece being a five-course meal where the food was presented on dishes that were hand-carved in ice.

Another planner, Victoria Dubin, based in New York and Miami, says that, in a new precedent, the weddings she’s tapped to design kick off with striking welcome meals. She recently planned an al fresco rehearsal dinner at the Brooklyn pizzeria Roberta’s that recreated a Tuscan garden. Elements included potted herbs, lemon trees, vintage olive oil cans, ceramic plates, and table cards presented with palm leaves in limoncello cans.

Another planner, Victoria Dubin, recently planned an al fresco rehearsal dinner at the Brooklyn pizzeria Roberta’s that recreated a Tuscan garden.
Aletiza Photo

Pashmina shawls hung from chairs to keep guests warm, and freshly baked pizzas and Aperol spritzes were in ready supply throughout the evening.

Stacy Teckin, the groom’s mother, hosted the party with her husband, Ian, and says she sought to pull off a dinner that made an impression on their guests. “The wedding was delayed because of Covid, and now that we had the chance to celebrate, we wanted to go all out,” Teckin says. “I’m not sure we would have done that before.”

In another example, acclaimed planner Norma Cohen threw a wild safari-themed bar mitzvah for a client.

A four-day wedding in Paris where the ceremony was in a historic chateau and the host paid for guests to stay at Hotel Crillon
Norma Cohen Productions

The memorable occasion transpired at Spring Studios in downtown Manhattan and saw 400 guests be transported to the African plains: Details included mammoth replicas of wildlife such as giraffes and elephants, servers in safari themed attire, and entertainment dressed like giraffes. The event was one of several over-the-top parties Cohen’s arranged recently.

A four-day wedding in Paris where the ceremony was in a historic chateau and the host paid for guests to stay at Hotel Crillon, one of the city’s most luxurious properties, also ranks high in Cohen’s memory.

Then there’s a destination party in London that Cohen planned for a client who was turning 40. It as a six-day affair with dinners at swanky spots such as Cipriani, the Arts Club, and Cecconi’s at Soho House. The finale was Lancaster House, a mansion in St. James, where guests were entertained by cabaret dancers from the famed Ibiza club Lio Ibiza and feasted on prime rib and lamb chops and imbibed on Krug champagne.

“People today don’t want to host events,” Cohen says. “They want experiences that take you away to a different place and make you forget that the real world exists.”