And the Cook Islands Marine Park project manager can prove she really did meet him, because she had several photographs taken with the affable Branson.
“I was told by Jess Cramp and our contacts at Oceans 5 to go to an exclusive event hosted by Oceans Unite,” Evans told CI News.
“So I called Kevin Iro as our Marae Moana Ambassador and asked him to come along.
“We didn’t expect Sir Richard to be there. We just thought of it as a good opportunity to share what we’re doing in the Cook Islands to establish Marae Moana and also to make some new contacts.
“The MC for the night said Sir Richard was delayed because he was giving an interview at the Stephen Colbert show.
“When he turned up he was talking to several people and Kevin and I just wanted to step back because we didn’t want to crowd him.
“But then he headed straight for me, so I put out my hand and introduced myself and told him about Marae Moana.
“He asked about the Cook Islands and then congratulated us for the work we have done.”
Evans says the conference was a great opportunity to raise awareness about the Cook Islands and Marae Moana and to establish new partnerships to help with implementation of the Marae Moana Policy.
“We also declared two voluntary commitments which can be found on the UN Oceans Conference website, by clicking on “voluntary commitments’ and then entering the keywords “Marae Moana”.
Branson is well known for his interest in conservation and protecting the environment. In 2006 he made a pledge to invest $US3 billion toward addressing global warming over the following decade, though critics have since accused him of actually devoting less than $300 million to the cause.
In 2007 United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Boon presented Branson with the United Nations Correspondents Association Citizen of the World Award for his support for environmental and humanitarian causes.