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Dozens of leading figures from the worlds of business, cinema, science, sport and the arts gathered on 15 November at the Dolby Theatre, home of the Academy Awards, for a celebration to announce the winners of the 2016 Rolex Awards for Enterprise.

In keeping with the Hollywood setting, the five new Rolex Laureates – Andrew Bastawrous, from the United Kingdom; Kerstin Forsberg, Peru; Vreni Häussermann, Chile/Germany; Conor Walsh, Ireland; and Sonam Wangchuk, India – received their Awards from some of the biggest names in cinema. Michelle Monaghan, Casey Affleck, Don Cheadle, Maria Bello and Chris Pine were joined by oceanographer/explorer Sylvia Earle in making the presentations. However, the traditional red carpet leading into the venue was replaced by one in gold, the colour of the Rolex crown.

Bertrand Gros, Chairman of Rolex SA, welcomed guests to the ceremony, which also celebrated the 40th anniversary of the Rolex Awards. The Rolex chairman described the company’s long history and pioneering efforts in supporting those working to save the planet: “The purpose of this celebration is to reward men and women who, through their creativity, determination, courage and enthusiasm, contribute to the future welfare of mankind.

“Since [1976], we have done our best to help and support individuals from all over the world to carry out their dreams, their creative spirit and their ambitions,” he said.

The presentation of the latest Awards brings to 140 the total number of Laureates whose groundbreaking projects have been supported by Rolex since the programme’s launch in 1976.

Among those present at the Los Angeles event were business leaders whose interests encompass the innovation that the Awards represent, and dozens of members of the Rolex Awards community, including most former Laureates, and current and past Jury members. Sporting champions, including tennis legends Vijay Amritraj and Rod Laver, also attended, and figures from the arts, such as German film-maker Werner Herzog and former mentors in the Rolex Arts Initiative – Mira Nair, Peter Sellars, Walter Murch and Julie Taymor.

Film-maker (Titanic and Avatar) and explorer James Cameron, whose own achievements in the 2012 DEEPSEA CHALLENGE expedition to the deepest point in the world’s oceans are closely linked to Rolex, launched the evening’s proceedings.

“This is an extraordinary night. For all of us who are profoundly curious about the possibilities for mankind, this is a celebration. All of us who are passionate about exploration and the betterment of the planet and its inhabitants… this is for us,” he said.

“Rolex embraces the dreamers. And sometimes those working at the very edge of the impossible. I should know. In 2012, Rolex supported an expedition of my own… and it reflects a powerful tradition of exploration that is being carried out beautifully by Maître Bertrand Gros and his team. Rolex… gives back to the world to a degree that most companies don’t… they’re thinking about the future of humanity and our natural world.”

The ceremony was divided into five segments for each category of the Awards, with the Laureates profiled through short documentary films.

“I’m delighted to be here to honour a young woman who shares the same unique passion that I do for marine life,” said Sylvia Earle when introducing Kerstin Forsberg.

Introducing the 2016 Young Laureates at the end of the evening, Chris Pine called them to the stage. “The challenge for the next generation is to build on the work of those who have come before, while charting a course for our future,” he said. The Young Laureates are Joseph Cook (UK), Oscar Ekponimo (Nigeria), Christine Keung (United States), Junto Ohki, (Japan) and Sarah Toumi (France/Tunisia).

James Cameron brought the evening to a close by acknowledging all of the Laureates in the audience and thanking everyone for attending the event. “These extraordinary women and men represent the best of what’s possible in humanity. I hope this has challenged you to go out to do some good for the world and unleash your own spirit of enterprise.”

Applications for the next series of the Rolex Awards in 2018 will open next month.

 

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