Greenhouse gas emissions are causing adverse effects on land and in oceans. The mismanagement of marine resources has led to a global fisheries crisis and a severe loss of biodiversity, and poaching threatens to cause the extinction of wildlife.

In the Environment Programme, we hope for more socially and environmentally sustainable societies, for the protection of endangered species and for the transformation of how oceans are perceived and exploited. Our grant-making focuses on three main areas: climate change mitigation; wildlife conservation; and the conservation of marine resources.

In the Environment Programme, we are committed to making a low carbon future possible by supporting organisations in Brazil, Canada, China, Europe, India and the United States.

World leaders committed to keeping the increase of global average temperatures "well below" 2 degrees Celsius in the historic climate agreement, signed in Paris in December 2015. They also pledged to pursue efforts to limit the increase in temperature to no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. It is an ambitious target and we will play a role alongside civil society groups, businesses and policy makers in finding solutions to meet it.

We aim for our grant investments from 2016 to 2020 to help guide economic, social and environmental development policies towards a clean energy and equitable future.

We will focus on four key areas: implementing systems that support clean and efficient energy systems; building sustainable cities; bringing down the barriers to promoting the widespread use of electric vehicles; and enabling and empowering the environment to shift key paradigms around how we use our energy and reduce pollution.

Clean and efficient energy systems
We believe that clean and efficient energy will help reduce pollution, improve health and lift millions who still lack access to power out of poverty.

To achieve the vision of a low carbon future, financial and political support must end for the most heavily polluting projects, including tar sands expansion, new and existing coal power plants and deep sea oil drilling.

We support organisations that advocate for policy reform and increased financing of clean energy. We also support organisations which drive innovation in technology and standards to make buildings, appliances, industry and power more efficient.

Our strategy includes: partnering with public financial bodies to complement private investments in clean safe energy; helping integrate clean energy into poverty reduction programmes; and supporting grass-roots community-led campaigns. Such initiatives are the building blocks to achieving clean and smart growth across the key regions where we work.

Sustainable cities
We believe that building cleaner, safer and healthier cities is key to tackling climate change. We support organisations that: champion better public health and quality of life through improved, people-friendly urban planning; and promote low-carbon public transport, reduced car use and the slashing of emissions from non-CO2 pollutants.

Better-funded transport systems, the promotion of cycling and walking and the active involvement of women, young people and the elderly in public transit design will help make city living more attractive and accessible.

Vehicles, fuel efficiency and electrification
We believe that reducing dependence on oil is central to global energy security and realising the opportunities that climate action will bring.

Transport that is powered by fossil fuels is a major source of pollution. Stricter laws to regulate vehicle efficiency, bringing down the barriers to electric vehicle uptake and realising the vision of driverless cars will all play a part in a cleaner, low-carbon world.

We support organisations that safeguard progressive vehicle efficiency standards, promote the benefits of fossil-free transport and shape policies that make roads safer and cities healthier.

An enabling environment
While international, national and local agreements and commitments play a pivotal role in shaping climate action, it is business and civil society demand for action that will shape our success.

We work with organisations that create the political leverage and opportunities for climate action. A framework is needed that gives confidence to businesses to accelerate investment in cleaner, smarter ways of powering homes and economies.

We believe that we will create the jobs, economic benefits and pollution reductions we need by:

  • enabling groups to mobilise public pressure for action;
  • shaping a new narrative about the opportunities of climate action; and
  • working with institutions that are redirecting finance away from heavily polluting investments to clean energy.

Maintaining the health of the oceans is critical for the future of people and the planet. Yet, our oceans are suffering from the compounding threats of overfishing, pollution and climate change.

In the Environment Programme, our marine strategy for 2016 to 2020 takes a solutions-based approach to reversing this trend and to improving oceans’ health. It focuses on three key sectors: industrial fishing, small-scale fisheries and plastics pollution. We support organisations based in Europe, the Arctic, East Asia and Africa.

Our strategy builds on past successes and sets in motion cutting-edge initiatives that: promote sustainable development; contribute to the integrity of marine ecosystems; and enhance the wellbeing of coastal and indigenous communities.

Industrial fisheries
Addressing the depletion of the world’s fish stocks and the loss of fishing livelihoods lies at the heart of our investments in fisheries management. Making large-scale, industrial fishing environmentally sustainable will ease pressure on developing countries, revitalise coastal fisheries and enhance the wellbeing of local communities.  

A cornerstone of our industrial fisheries work is the elimination of illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing by distant fleets in developing country waters. Doing so requires documenting and disclosing these incursions as well as on stronger regulations in both industrialised fishing countries and developing countries, particularly West Africa, whose waters are being exhausted. Significant efforts, in partnership with civil society, will be made to help strengthen international fishing regulations in East Asian countries.

Eliminating overfishing also requires ecologically sustainable fisheries policies. Much can be done by supporting compliance of the EU’s Common Fisheries Policy, especially in the areas of sustainable fishing levels, human rights, equity and impact on the environment.

Small-scale fisheries
Small-scale fisheries represent a marine resource of global significance. Millions of coastal and indigenous people around the world depend on small-scale fishing to meet their food security, cultural and economic needs. Yet this livelihood is under threat from poor fisheries management, large-scale resource development pressures and industrial fishing.

These threats are particularly critical in the Arctic and North Pacific, where four million inhabitants are largely dependent on wild fish and marine mammal resources. People in this region have to cope with the compounding effects of globalisation and climate change, as well as with regulatory structures that don't meet the demands of a warming world.

Communities dependant on small-scale fisheries are also facing similar challenges. We support organisations that reduce the magnitude of large-scale industrial development of the oceans by promoting the international agreements that protect the environment and sustainable livelihoods, as well as improving the management and regulations of fishing and shipping.

Key to the success of small-scale fisheries is the involvement of local communities in their own resource management. Therefore, we pay particular attention to the social dimension of coastal resources.

Plastic waste
Between 4 and 12 million metric tonnes of plastic waste finds its way into the oceans every year (to put it into perspective, an elephant weighs one metric tonne!). This waste, if washed ashore, would cover every inch of the world’s coastline.

We believe a forceful response to cleaning up our oceans by 2025 can reduce these numbers by nearly a third. Research is an essential component of that response but most advances will come from shifting mindsets that consider it acceptable to dump plastic into the ocean. We are therefore working with businesses, non-governmental groups and other funders to find solutions.

Civil society is particularly well placed to raise awareness around waste and exert pressure on authorities to regulate the most harmful plastic varieties, making the development of robust non-governmental organisations and campaigns an essential pillar of our strategy.

The export of hazardous plastics to developing countries requires urgent reversal, and these countries also need support to modernise their own plastics collection and recycling methods. All this will require vigorous advocacy, especially with industrial producers of unrecoverable plastics.

By drastically reducing the leakage of plastic debris into the ocean, the health and integrity of marine ecosystems will be reinforced and, it is hoped, restored.


In the Environment Programme, we are committed to conserving wild rhinoceros and elephants from the threat of the illegal wildlife trade. Multiple factors are fuelling the illegal wildlife trade, including the increasing presence of organised criminal syndicates trading in wildlife, poor enforcement, porous borders and mushrooming demand.

To allow wild populations of rhinoceros and elephants the reprieve needed from illegal wildlife trade, we need a formidable, coordinated response among all affiliated agencies and along all links in the supply chain.  

In our strategy, we favour approaches that address the root causes of the illegal wildlife trade rather than just the symptoms and recognise the complementary roles of governments, non-governmental organisations and the private sector. We respect the legitimate interests and human rights of communities and indigenous peoples living in and around conservation areas as well as the protection of flora and fauna.  

We will focus on three key areas: trafficking, governance and global capacity building.  

Disrupting illegal wildlife trade networks
We believe that much of the required legal framework to address illegal wildlife trade is already in place; however, this legal framework is unevenly enforced and criminal networks out manoeuvre under-resourced conservationists.

Therefore, we support organisations that disrupt wildlife trafficking networks using intelligence-led approaches while building law enforcement and judiciary capacity. We also support organisations improving conservation and enforcement approaches through improved information on wildlife crime.  

Our strategy aims to: strengthen civil society partnerships through formal and informal enforcement networks; build capacity for effective enforcement and prosecution; and encourage the enabling conditions to ensure that adequate resources are in place to take targeted actions.

Correcting distortions in governance that enable illegal wildlife trade 
We believe that some governance mechanisms regulating wildlife trade are out-dated or allow for loopholes that the criminal and the corrupt can exploit, such as legal domestic trade.

Therefore, we support organisations that advocate for policy reforms using evidence-led analyses, particularly those that improve transnational cooperation and market-based regulation. We also support organisations which build a constituency for effective, accountable and transparent government action in all countries explicitly — or complicity — involved in trade.

Our strategy aims to: improve the regulatory environment to reduce wildlife traffickers expected returns; and strengthen enforcement through mechanisms such as international and domestic bans and bilateral jurisdictional agreements. We also want to encourage and increase conservation leadership among decision makers.
Advancing knowledge, fostering innovation and leveraging funding
We believe the conservation sector can benefit from more data and analysis, technology, innovation and additional resources.

Therefore, we support organisations that seek to advance knowledge, foster innovation and leverage funding to benefit the conservation sector as a whole.

Our strategy aims to build new capacities by: helping align people and networks for greater effectiveness, integrating conservation into existing poverty and crime reduction programmes for greater efficiency; and convening and partnering to coordinate and complement private investments in conservation.

Ultimately, we hope to increase the resilience of the wildlife conservation ecosystem for all wild species by weeding out crime and encouraging better laws, policies and market regulations.

We are committed to:

  • addressing root causes;
  • supporting realistic and solutions-based strategies and objectives;
  • putting in place the enabling conditions required for an influential and diverse civil society;
  • working through others, particularly NGOs;
  • working in partnership with grantees and other foundations;
  • leveraging resources, taking risks and catalysing broad-scale change; and
  • taking a longer-term approach.
Photo band ©  Tony Rath Photography, tonyrath.com