On Monday night, attendees tuned in for the first ever virtual Oceana New York Gala to honor two-time Academy Award-winning actor, author, and activist Jane Fonda and to raise funds in support of Oceana’s campaigns to restore the world’s oceans.
Fonda, introduced by actor and 2019 Oceana New York Gala honoree Diane Lane, spoke about the threat climate change poses to the planet and how by protecting the oceans now, people can help fight back. “We’re scrambling now to save our planet, and the world’s oceans are our biggest ally in this fight. Not enough people understand the essential role the oceans play in combatting the climate crisis,” Fonda told attendees. “Everything depends on our succeeding in saving the oceans.”
Actor and Chair of Oceana’s Board of Directors Sam Waterston and fellow actor and Board member Ted Danson served as Masters of Ceremonies for this year’s event, which followed the theme “Our Oceans. Our Future.”
“People are fighting for a better world in lots of ways—and they’re all incredibly important. Tonight, we are focused on the oceans, because we know that all life—our future—depends on them,” said Oceana board member Susan Rockefeller, who hosted the annual event along with her husband and fellow Oceana board member David Rockefeller, Jr.
“Ocean conservation was never as important as it is now,” Oceana CEO Andrew Sharpless told attendees. “You’re here because you know an abundant ocean is essential to progress on all these global problems: Stopping climate change. Feeding hungry people. Delivering social and racial justice. Ocean conservation is a necessary, and practical, part of fixing these problems. And doing it on a global scale.”
The event raised more than $1.2 million in support of Oceana and featured a star-studded group of speakers and attendees, including philanthropist, businessman and 108th Mayor of New York City, Michael Bloomberg.
“Oceana was one of the first partners we teamed up with for two reasons: They follow science and data, and they get things done,” Bloomberg told attendees, in reference to Bloomberg Philanthropies support of Oceana as part of its Vibrant Oceans Initiative.
Additional guest speakers included former U.S. President Bill Clinton, actor, activist and philanthropist Leonardo DiCaprio, actor and Oceana ambassador Cobie Smulders, professional surfer and waterman Kai Lenny, and Stone Barns chef and author Dan Barber.
At this year’s event, Oceana also announced its new exclusive watch partner, Blancpain. For more than 65 years, since the 1953 launch of the world’s first modern diving watch, the Fifty Fathoms, Blancpain has enjoyed historical links to the ocean. Through its ocean exploration and conservation initiative, the Blancpain Ocean Commitment, Blancpain has co-financed 19 major scientific expeditions, and plans to work with Oceana to further the brand’s contributions to expanding marine protected areas and presenting award-winning documentaries, photo exhibits and publications.
For a full list of underwriters and partners, gala committee members, auction items, and more information about Oceana’s 2020 New York Gala, click here.