Sunnylands convenes global leaders and prominent experts for retreats and meetings that result in meaningful outcomes. Whether held at the historic, 200-acre Annenberg estate in Rancho Mirage, California — with its iconic architecture and secluded setting — or in cities around the world, every retreat or meeting is designed to address and find solutions to real-world problems that promote peace, facilitate international agreement, and better serve the public good. Sunnylands translates ideas into action.
From world leaders to thought leaders, Sunnylands builds crucial partnerships fostering innovative yet practical solutions to pressing global challenges. Retreats bring together participants from diverse backgrounds to learn from new perspectives, set clear objectives, and forge positive paths forward to create a measurable impact.
The summit between President Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping at Sunnylands in June 2013 marked the most time that leaders of these two great countries have ever spent in open conversation. The two men agreed to pursue a “new model of major-power relations,” charting paths forward on such matters as trade, cyber-crime, and North Korea’s nuclear ambitions. Perhaps the most significant outcome of these talks was a commitment to decrease the use of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), a significant greenhouse gas contributing to rising global temperatures. A month later, the U.S. and China built upon the Sunnylands HFC proposal, agreeing to regulate heavy-duty vehicles and improve energy efficiency.
- President Obama and President Xi hold historic meetings at Sunnylands
- U.S.-China Conversation on Climate Change Moves Forward
In a February 2014 meeting that earned recognition from the Los Angeles Times of Sunnylands as “The President’s Second Home for Diplomacy,” President Obama welcomed King Abdullah II of Jordan to discuss the Syrian refugee crisis and other issues. “It’s wonderful to be able to host [King Abdullah] here at beautiful Sunnylands,” President Obama told reporters. The location provided “an opportunity to have an extensive consultation with His Majesty in a less formal setting,” he added. Before leaving, the president announced $1 billion in loan guarantees to aid Jordan in accommodating the hundreds of thousands of people displaced from war-torn Syria.
HIV/AIDS Cure Retreat
Sunnylands brought together leaders from government, science, and industry to address forming a public-private partnership for AIDS research. The director of the National Institutes of Health said, “This meeting goes down in history as a turning point that leads us to victory over HIV/AIDS.” Within weeks, in a ceremony observing World AIDS Day 2013, President Obama announced a $100 million initiative to find a cure.
Read more: White House Announces $100 Million Initiative
Working with the LEAD Commission, Sunnylands convened policymakers and other leaders from education, technology, and philanthropy in Washington, D.C., to brainstorm ways to reduce the digital divide that puts many of the nation’s students at a competitive disadvantage. Following the retreat, the White House and the Federal Communications Commission acted on the commission’s recommendations to connect virtually every U.S. school to high-speed broadband Internet service.
Read more: Empowering Educators to Enhance Student Learning in the Digital Era
Homeland Security and Congressional Oversight
A bipartisan task force of current and former members of Congress, as well as former members of the executive branch and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) came together at Sunnylands to determine why the 9/11 Commission’s call for consolidated Congressional oversight of DHS had gone unheeded. On the 12th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, the task force delivered the resulting report to every member of Congress. Several members of the task force later testified before Congress on the findings, and the recommendations were endorsed by the chair of the House Committee on Homeland Security as well as a coalition of other top officials.
Read more: New report calls attention to unfulfilled recommendation by 9/11 Commission
Ensuring the Integrity of Science
In partnership with the National Academy of Sciences, Sunnylands brought together leading scientists to consider how the scientific community can safeguard its credibility amid what some see as an increase in the publication of questionable research findings. The recommendations, which were published in the Journal of Science, included changing incentives to reward scholars for the quality, rather than quantity, of their work.
The Sunnylands gathering of policymakers and business leaders from these neighboring nations examined ways to improve bilateral relations. Both Mexico and the U.S. adopted the resulting recommendations, which included expanding education and research partnerships. The work also helped inform the initial meeting between President Obama and Mexican President Peña Nieto in 2102 and has led to enhanced collaboration between the two countries.
Read more: A Stronger Future: Policy Recommendations for U.S.-Mexico Relations
Transforming K-12 Math Education
This gathering resulted in an independent entity to provide research-based evaluations of K-12 mathematics materials. At a culminating retreat in October 2013, participants refined their design and planned for next-phase funding to support its launch so that, as former West Virginia Governor Bob Wise put it, “every teacher, every principal, every school board member, every practitioner has the tools they need to make the best decisions about what works in math for their students.”
Read more: Revolutionizing K-12 Mathematics Teaching and Learning in the U.S.: What will it take?
Sovereign Debt and the IMF
In the wake of the worldwide financial crisis, Sunnylands, the USC Gould School of Law, and the Duke School of Law convened a group of top financial and legal experts to discuss the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the future of sovereign debt policies. The meeting resulted in a strategy to promote extending bondholder or other creditor payments from distressed nations that greatly influenced the IMF policy shift on debt restructuring.
Read the report: The Role of the IMF in Future Sovereign Debt Restructurings: Report of the Annenberg House Expert Group
Teen Substance Abuse in the Digital Age
Sunnylands held a retreat in Tarrytown, New York, with the New York Center for Living (NYCFL), an organization dedicated to helping young adults overcome substance abuse and addiction. Assembling technology and media experts, education and public policy leaders, clinicians, academics, and researchers, the retreat focused on ways to educate parents about both the positive and negative effects that digital media can have on adolescents in recovery. The retreat led to a website providing vital information for parents and clinicians on recovery resources and options for prevention, education, and treatment.
Read more: Adolescent Substance Abuse Recovery in a Digitally-Driven Society is Focus of Retreat
Global Internet Governance
Sunnylands joined with the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) and an international panel of representatives from governments, civil society, the private sector, and the technical community to focus on the future of Internet governance. Estonian President Toomas Ilves served as the panel’s chair, and Internet pioneer Vint Cerf acted as vice chair. The effort led to a framework for international cooperation and a roadmap for a new governance structure guiding the Internet’s future.
Read more: High-Level Panel Organizes to Address Future of Internet Governance Sunnylands a Substantive Partner