Retreats and Meetings

"As a gathering place, Sunnylands has been making history for 50 years. The key element is that it brings people together at high levels from different disciplines to tackle the world’s greatest challenges. I am absolutely confident that Sunnylands will continue to challenge and change the world.”
President David J. Lane 

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. 

U.S.-ASEAN Summit

President Barack Obama hosted the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) for a historic summit-level gathering in the United States in 2016. ASEAN is comprised of Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Viet Nam. At the conclusion of the summit, the 10 heads of state issued the “Sunnylands Declaration” affirming a set of 17 key principles, including agreement on the pursuit of policies that promote economic competition, the importance of nurturing youth to sustain peace between countries, mutual respect for sovereignty, a strong resolve against global terrorism and violent extremism, and a shared commitment to continue political dialogue. As noted in the Declaration, the summit “marked a watershed year for both ASEAN and for the increasingly close U.S.-ASEAN strategic partnership.”  
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U.S.-China Accords

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. 
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U.S.-Jordan Negotiations

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. 
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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

Education Technology

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

U.S. Ambassadors on Diplomacy

In recognition of the Department of State’s vital mission to promote peace, support prosperity, and protect American citizens while advancing the interests of the U.S. abroad, Sunnylands convened in 2016 current ambassadors and their spouses, former ambassadors, and representatives from the Department of State, among others, to develop training strategies that prepare ambassadors to be effective from their first day on the job. Participants identified gaps in the training and information delivered to diplomats and their families when preparing for mission. Retreat participants drafted actionable steps to promote a seamless transition between chiefs of mission; foster teamwork among career and non-career diplomats; and harness experiences, skills, and professional networks of spouses.

Brookings U.S.-China Leaders Forum at Sunnylands

The U.S.-China Leaders Forum brought together a mix of high-level policymakers, business leaders, military strategists, policy scholars, scientists, and innovators—rare for a U.S.-China bilateral dialogue. The objective was to foster greater trust between the United States and China, as well as develop specific ideas for increased collaboration between the two countries. Topics included economic and trade ties, China’s economic reform, regional and global security, technological innovation, and climate change. The discussions also focused on the potential trajectory of U.S.-China relations under the next American president.  
Read more: Brookings and Sunnylands Convene U.S.-China Leaders Forum

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