Questions are being raised about Conservation International (CI), one of the world’s largest conservation groups, after it was the target of a “sting” video by Don’t Panic magazine.
Reporters from Don’t Panic posed as representatives from Lockheed Martin, an arms manufacture, and secretly recorded conversations with CI development representative. They asked whether CI could help Lockheed Martin build a “green” image.
One of the more disturbing moments in the video comes when the “Lockheed Martin” reps ask whether CI can help reduce the environmental footprint of its manufacturing. CI says it doesn’t do that kind of work and instead gives the “Lockheed Martin” reps a menu of sponsorship options.
CI didn’t have an official response to the video.
CI recently rebranded itself to focus more on the human elements of conservation.
UPDATE May 19, 2011
CI issued a statement on the video in the form of an editorial by Peter Seligmann, Co-founder, Chairman, and CEO of Conservation International.
Here are the facts:
A CI employee in London was contacted by two individuals posing as representatives of a defense corporation. The individuals set up an elaborate hoax, including fake identities, a phony corporate website and a made-up inquiry about the corporation’s interest in working with CI on conservation projects. They recorded the initial phone conversation and a subsequent lunch meeting.
They then edited these recordings to remove key elements, while using other parts out of context to paint a highly inaccurate, biased and incomplete picture of CI’s work with the private sector. Specifically, they omitted discussion of CI’s due diligence process and the need to focus on real, technical work that benefits nature and human well-being as the core of any corporate partnership.
Seligmann went on to say that engaging corporations is critical to “improving environmental practices and preserving the benefits we all receive from nature.”