To confront the growing global conservation crisis, the Wyss Foundation announced today it is launching an unprecedented $1 billion campaign to help rapidly expand the proportion of the Earth’s lands and oceans that are conserved so current and future generations can drink clean water, breathe clean air, and experience the wonders of the natural world.
The goal of the effort, called the Wyss Campaign for Nature, is to help nations conserve 30 percent of the planet in a natural state by the year 2030 by creating and expanding protected areas, encouraging the international community to establish more ambitious protected area targets, investing in science, and inspiring conservation action and new investments around the world.
“From the forests that supply our drinking water to the rugged backcountry that inspires the imagination of our children, everyone on Earth has a stake in conserving our planet’s wild places before they are gone,” said Hansjörg Wyss, a philanthropist who launched the Wyss Foundation in 1998. “I believe that to confront the global conservation crisis, we need to do far more to support locally-led initiatives that conserve lands in the public trust, so that everyone has a chance to experience and explore the wonders of the outdoors.”
To achieve its objective of conserving 30 percent of the planet in a natural state by the year 2030, the Wyss Campaign for Nature will support four primary strategies:
- Support on-the-ground, locally led conservation projects: The Wyss Campaign for Nature will provide financial support to organizations that are working with indigenous communities, local leaders, and a wide range of stakeholders to establish, expand, or improve the management of parks and protected areas. The Nature Conservancy, Aves Argentinas, Fundación Flora y Fauna Argentina, the Gonarezhou Conservation Trust, and Fundatia Conservation Carpathia are among the organizations receiving over $48 million in funding commitments for the first round of on-the-ground conservation projects that the Wyss Campaign for Nature is supporting. All together, these projects will help protect approximately 10 million acres of land and 17,000 square kilometers of large, ecologically rich ocean areas across 13 countries.
- Increase international conservation targets: The Wyss Campaign for Nature will support efforts to significantly raise the global targets for marine and terrestrial protection, which will be updated at the 2020 meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity in China. These targets set minimum percentages of lands and waters that parties in the convention agree to place into conservation status in order to protect critical ecosystems. Protected area conservation is a key component to the global effort to mitigate the impacts of climate change. The Wyss Campaign for Nature, along with our many conservation partners, is calling on world leaders to commit to protecting at least 30 percent of the world’s marine and land environments by 2030.
- Inspire to action: The Wyss Foundation is partnering with the National Geographic Society to raise public awareness about the global conservation crisis by highlighting notable stories of conservation successes and challenges. This effort will inspire citizens, policymakers, and other philanthropic organizations to help accelerate the protection of Earth’s lands, waters, and wildlife through investments in nature conservation.
- Use science to maximize conservation gains: The Wyss Foundation is sponsoring a pilot project through the University of Bern, Switzerland, to support practical scientific analysis to ensure that effective, economically beneficial, and innovative land conservation strategies are studied, widely shared, and implemented on a global scale.
“The Wyss Campaign for Nature is remarkable for its vision, scale, and extraordinary commitment to conserving lands and waters in the public trust,” said Mark Tercek, CEO of The Nature Conservancy. “The Nature Conservancy is proud to be a partner in the Wyss Campaign for Nature, and we are grateful for Hansjörg Wyss’s philanthropic leadership at such a critical moment for our planet’s wild places.”
With $6.9 million in funding from the Wyss Campaign for Nature, The Nature Conservancy will expand its Blue Bonds for Conservation initiative in the Caribbean and will work with local partners to create a more than 200,000-acre sustainable agriculture zone and protected area in Australia’s Murray-Darling Basin.
With support from the Wyss Campaign for Nature, the National Geographic Society will document why ambitious global conservation action is needed to help alleviate the worst impacts of climate change and address the problems associated with the declining health of the natural world. The collapse of fisheries, for example, is jeopardizing livelihoods and food supplies around the globe. More than 800 million people do not have access to clean drinking water, and the degradation of rivers and waterways poses a grave risk to public health. By 2020, the planet will have lost two-thirds of its wildlife populations unless urgent action is taken now.
The Wyss Campaign for Nature builds on two decades of work by the Wyss Foundation to support locally led conservation initiatives in the United States and, in recent years, Africa, South America, Europe, Canada, and Mexico. Since 1998, the Wyss Foundation has donated more than $450 million, enabling the foundation’s partners to conserve nearly 40 million acres—or over 16 million hectares—of land and water around the world.
The Wyss Foundation’s $1 billion commitment to the Wyss Campaign for Nature over the next decade will approximately triple the foundation’s annual investments in conservation outside of the United States.
In 2013, Hansjörg Wyss signed The Giving Pledge, by which he committed to give away at least half his wealth to charitable causes.