As the world’s population continues to skyrocket, more and more pressure is being put on our natural resources. In fact, in the next 40 years our population is expected to grow to over 9 billion people, which will essentially double global demand for food, water and energy. Today as it stands, 1 in 6 people don’t have access to clean drinking water, half of the world’s sick suffer from waterborne disease, and over a billion lack proper sanitation.
As these statistics indicate, we are in store for some troubling times if we don’t make a change soon. Unfortunately, one of the biggest challenges the environmental movement faces is the perception that the ecological crisis is a non-human issue. In an effort to change this, Conservation International is making enormous strides to alter the way we view our relationship with nature.
“We ask a question: ‘What is a forest?’ Traditionally you look at a forest as a source of timber. It’s a building material. What we began to say is, actually, a forest is a water factory. It produces water. It produces pollinators, which are essential for crop production. It produces soil. Instead of asking ‘Where are the concentrations of biodiversity?’ we should have been asking “How are we dependent upon what nature provides us? How do you measure it? And how do you assure that it continues to flow?’” said Peter Seligmann, Chairman and CEO, Conservation International. By asking these questions, CI hopes that people will begin to see conservation as an act of self-interest instead of a form of altruism. Understanding the value of investment is the first step to motivating governments, businesses and the public at large to get involved in conservation efforts. In a conversation at Fortune Brainstorm GREEN last year, actor and board vice chair of CI, Harrison Ford mirrored Seligmann’s sentiments stating “nature doesn’t need people, people need nature…we need it, for our economic health and viability, we need it for our children’s future. So it’s our job to cause it and develop strategies to maintain it.”
Consider the ocean alone; covering 70% of the globe’s surface, it is the largest place on earth. Accountable for 80% of the oxygen we breathe, absorbing 80% of climate change heat, storing 50 times more carbon than the atmosphere, and providing us with a excellent source of food, the ocean is of enormous importance to the human race. What’s more, the ocean gives us medicines, provides economic opportunity, and is home to the greatest diversity of life on earth. While investing in water conservation efforts are costly, our health, our security, our economic development and our future are dependent upon it.
After identifying vital environmental concerns like this one, Conservation International implements game-changing innovations to incite change. Once these innovations have proven effective on the ground, CI then uses their findings to foster partnerships with influential institutions that can take things to the next level.
Working with a number of high-profile celebrities, and prominent corporations like Starbucks, CI is able to make a real difference. Among CI’s many powerful partners is American multinational retail giant, Walmart. In fact, the Chairman for Walmart, Rob Walton, actually serves as the Chairman on Conservation International’s Executive Committee.
Even companies who traditionally have turned their back on environmental efforts are forced to take notice when presented with proof about how new initiatives can positively affect their economic livelihood. Huge industries with large global footprints like mining, energy and agriculture, are being taught how to adapt their practices to ensure their economic viability in the future. CI also works with government leaders all over the planet to ensure they have the knowledge and tools they need to sustainably manage their natural wealth for the long-term well-being of their people.
In just 27 years CI has grown from a small non-profit with a budget of just 5 million dollars, to one of the most impressive environmental organizations in the world. To date, CI has helped protect an area of land and sea three times the size of Germany and has delivered over $1.25 billion to conservation partners in 70 countries.
For more information visit www.conservation.org