The Nature Conservancy’s Great Rivers Partnership (GRP) is expanding thanks to a recent $5 million pledge from The Caterpillar Foundation. The program, which focuses on the world’s great rivers, is aimed at bringing together diverse partners, innovative science and global stakeholders to seek solutions to common land and water use issues. The ultimate goal is to sustain the world’s great rivers that support the economies, people and environments that depend on their continued health.
In 2007 The Nature Conservancy launched the first phase of the GRP with an initial $12 million investment from The Caterpillar Foundation. This recent pledge will allow the GRP to build upon its successes and expand its work to more of the world’s great river systems.
“Through its support, the Caterpillar Foundation is making a significant difference in global freshwater conservation,” said Mark Tercek, president and CEO of the Conservancy. “The GRP is making a real impact in people’s lives, from finding ways to feed a growing population through sustainable agriculture to working with upstream landowners to ensure clean water for downstream communities. These are big solutions to big problems. The Conservancy is grateful for support from the Caterpillar Foundation that enables us to continue and build upon this innovative work.”
“The Great Rivers Partnership has made tremendous strides in its first five years to improve lives around the world, and the Caterpillar Foundation is pleased to renew its support of it,” said Caterpillar Chairman and CEO Doug Oberhelman. “As a global company headquartered on the banks of the Illinois River, Caterpillar is proud to support the Partnership’s broad network of stakeholders that understands the strong link between a sustainable environment and a sustainable economy.”
Since 2007 the GRP has provided financial and technical support to assess the diversity of plants and animals within a 445-million-acre area of China’s upper Yangtze River, an effort that became the foundation for China’s national conservation blueprint.
In 2007, the GRP worked with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, state agencies, the navigation industry and other partners to support the passage of the U.S. Water Resources Development Act. The Act authorized $3.9 billion for the Navigation and Ecosystem Sustainability Program, which includes $1.7 billion for ecosystem restoration in the upper Mississippi River basin.
The GRP played a key role in launching a program in Brazil in which rural landowners are compensated when they implement conservation practices that in turn help ensure clean water for downstream communities. The program is now being replicated in other parts of the country.
“Since Caterpillar’s initial investment in 2007, we’ve broadened our partnership base and gained support from companies like Monsanto, Cargill, Ingram Barge, Pioneer, IBM, Wells Fargo, Alliant Energy and YSI,” said Michael Reuter, director of the Great Rivers Partnership.
“With the Caterpillar Foundation’s help, we’ll further establish the GRP’s network of partners globally, select new demonstration rivers and build needed capacity,” Reuter said. “These companies and foundations, as well as other non-profit organizations and individuals, are enabling the Great Rivers Partnership to have an enormous impact around the world.”
The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people. The Conservancy and its more than 1 million members have protected nearly 120 million acres worldwide. Visit The Nature Conservancy on the Web at www.nature.org.