Billionaire pledges to protect the environment

Story by Sarah Day, News Editor

Hansjörg Wyss, an 83 year-old Wyoming resident born in Switzerland, pledged to protect 30 percent of Earth’s surfaces by the year 2030. Wyss made this pledge in November 2018, but it has recently been gaining large amounts of attention from media sources.

Wyss plans to target the globe’s most damaged areas with the establishment of the Wyss Campaign for nature. This is a project of his company the Wyss Foundation. This promise would double the surface area of Earth that is considered environmentally protected.

The interest for such a project stemmed from Wyss’ love of nature, and he has partnered with organizations for other environmental causes during his lifetime as well. As a graduate from Harvard University, Wyss created the Wyss Institute for Biological Inspired Engineering in 2008. He also created Halter Ranch and Vineyard, a sustainable wildlife preserve doubling as a winery in California.

Wyss plans to put $1 billion toward his promise to protect 30 percent of the environment. According to Wyss, this goal will be achieved by “creating and expanding protected areas, establishing more ambitious international conservation targets, investing in science, and inspiring conservation action around the world.”

Wyss will also be partnering with the National Geographic Society and The Nature Conservancy to ensure that the public is kept up to date on the effort and able to participate in the initiative.

According to a press release of the cause, the campaign focuses on four primary goals: supporting locally led projects, encouraging international conservation, raising public awareness and investing in science.

Wyss has been involved in environmental efforts for a period of time now, and even used his influence to stop some fossil fuel industries from harming lands previously deemed protected. However, he acknowledged that the roles of the government and philanthropists are vital to the success of the initiative, even stating that the United Nations (UN) should review their conservation targets at the 2020 UN Convention of Biological Diversity.

“This clear, bold and achievable goal would encourage policymakers around the world to do far more to support communities working to conserve these places,” Wyss said in his editorial. “For the sake of all living things, let’s see to it that far more of our planet is protected by the people, for the people and for all time.”

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