Embraces 'conservationomics,' idea that conservation solutions make economic sense
The Walton Family Foundation announced investments totaling more than $71.4 million in environmental initiatives in 2011. The foundation made grants to more than 160 organizations in the U.S. and other countries that work to protect natural resources while strengthening the local economies that depend on them. The foundation directed an overwhelming majority of the grants toward its two core environmental initiatives – Freshwater Conservation and Marine Conservation.
"Our work is rooted in our belief that the conservation solutions that last are the ones that make economic sense," said Scott Burns, director of the foundation's Environment Focus Area. "The foundation and our grantees embrace 'conservationomics' – the idea that conservation efforts can and should bring economic prosperity to local communities."
The Walton Family Foundation worked over the past year to bring conservation, business and community interests together to find long-term solutions to big problems. The foundation's work to repair the damage done to the Gulf Coast by the 2010 oil spill led to the formation of a coalition of environmental advocates, small business owners and local governments dedicated to the economic and environmental restoration of the region. This coalition worked tirelessly to ensure that fines paid for the spill will be directed to restoration projects along the Gulf Coast.
In 2011, the foundation made strategic investments to further its Freshwater Conservation and Marine Conservation initiatives.
- Freshwater Conservation - $26.8 Million:
- -The National Audubon Society helped develop nature-based tourism opportunities throughout the Mississippi River Basin that will bring jobs and economic growth to the region.
- -The Nature Conservancy developed innovative ways of protecting and restoring the Colorado River that benefit both people and nature.
- Marine Conservation - $30.5 Million:
- -Conservation International continued to implement a three-year program to empower local communities to manage and conserve fishing resources on Costa Rica's Pacific Coast.
- -The Marine Stewardship Council worked with seafood buyers and retailers to create a market for sustainably-caught seafood, preserving the livelihoods of fishermen while protecting depleted fish populations.
The foundation's 2011 portfolio included conservation projects across the globe, from the Mississippi River Basin to the islands of Indonesia and from Colorado to Costa Rica. In each region, the foundation supports programs that work toward healthy environments, healthy communities and healthy economies.
"Our commitment to conservationomics means that we support restoration projects that create jobs and boost local economies," said Burns, a former commercial fisherman. "We are proud that our grantees are working to ensure that our rivers flow as strongly as the electricity they generate for nearby towns and that fishermen's families and fishing communities are thriving alongside recovering fish populations.