Paris, the capital of France experienced a catastrophic fire almost destroying the famous Notre Dame Cathedral. There have been many donations weighing tons of money for the restoration of this monument, but that has raised many questions why that enormous sum of money cannot be given for more pressing issues such as homelessness or the environment. Yet, there are cases when billions of money is being donated for the conservation of our planet.
The CEO of the Wyss Foundation, Hansjörg Wyss, a billionaire and philanthropist, pledged to donate a billion dollars towards environmental conservation efforts over the next ten years. Although such donations are rare, they do happen once and awhile, and go for the benefit of our planet.
Wyss presented his plan in an article for the New York Times, consisted of purchasing large plots of land all over the world and after that turning them into parks that will be open to the public.
Wyss stated the following, quote:
“It is the idea that wild lands and waters are best conserved not in private hands, locked behind gates, but as public national parks, wildlife refuges and marine reserves, forever open for everyone to experience and explore. The notion of holding these places in public trust was one I became deeply influenced by as a young man, when I first climbed and hiked on public lands in Colorado’s Rocky Mountains,”.
“Every one of us – citizens, philanthropists, business and government leaders – should be troubled by the enormous gap between how little of our natural world is currently protected and how much should be protected. It is a gap that we must urgently narrow, before our human footprint consumes the earth’s remaining wild places,” he added.
Wyss believes that his contribution will make a great change for our planet and by his actions almost 30% of the planet will be protected by 2030.
His pledge is getting fulfilled as in two months he donated over $66 million to at least nine different organizations as per the findings of Business Insider.
His donations went for conservation purposes of various places in the world. For instance, a $5.8 million donation went to Aves Argentinas which is the oldest conservation group in Argentina. Thanks to this donation 1.5 million acre national park will be established. Another $22 million donation was meant for the Fundación Flora y Fauna, and all the funds will be used for creating a 178,000 acre national park in Argentina’s Tucumán Province. Some of his donations were given to the Dehcho First Nations in Canada, $750,000, in order to be used for the creation of a management program for the Edéhzhíe National Wildlife Area in the Northwest Territories. This area covers 3.5 million acre wetlands ecosystem thus being a natural habitat of a wide range of animal species.
Hansjörg Wyss is man who has been for years donating money for the protection of our planet. He has been doing this for 20 years long before he made this pledge. It is estimated that he has given over $450 million for similar efforts.
Wyss is an optimist believing in a better future and because of that he initiated this foundation. Here it is what he stated in his Op-Ed for the Times:
“This money will support locally led conservation efforts around the world, push for increased global targets for land and ocean protection, seek to raise public awareness about the importance of this effort, and fund scientific studies to identify the best strategies to reach our target. I believe this ambitious goal is achievable because I’ve seen what can be accomplished. Indigenous peoples, local leaders and conservation groups around the world are already busy setting aside protected areas that reflect the conservation, economic and cultural values of nearby communities.”
In addition to this, he reported the following:
“I’ve seen this unfold firsthand. Over the past two decades, my foundation has supported local efforts to protect wild places in Africa, South America, Europe, Canada, Mexico, and the United States, donating more than $450 million to help our partners conserve nearly 40 million acres of land and water.”