Natural disasters and manmade tragedies can devastate our environment. They put our landscape, coastline, wildlife, agriculture, energy and utilities, and water and sewage filtration systems at risk, and amplify public health issues related to land and water contamination from toxins.

Our climate continues to change, and as a result, tornadoes, hurricanes, wildfires, floods, landslides and earthquakes will increase in intensity, frequency and ferocity.

The philanthropic community can have a lasting and deep impact on our environment by protecting, mitigating, and restoring our natural environment and wildlife ecosystems.


Red Knot feeding on eggs of Horseshoe crabs. Mispillion Harbor, Delaware. Source: Gregory Breese/USFWS

Innovative Practices

Philanthropic organizations have:

  • supported research that has illuminated vulnerabilities associated with land management use; infrastructure (including sanitation, energy, and transportation issues connected to environmental concerns); endangered coastal habitats; climate change and sea level rise; and toxic exposure and the spread of infectious disease;
  • encouraged the formation of coalitions, task forces and cross-sector partnerships in order to take a multi-disciplined approach to environmental resiliency initiatives;
  • educated communities on the biggest environmental concerns facing their region in order to effectively and comprehensively prepare for future disasters and mitigate loss in delicate environmental habitats and communities-at-risk.

Key Takeaways

  1. Philanthropic organizations have a powerful platform to convene environmentalists, scientists, biologists, researchers, climatologists, geo-physicists, academics, government officials, local elected leaders, community activists, and journalists.
  2. Coalitions and Task Forces can:
    • foster a dialogue around environmental challenges;
    • ensure that the community at-large has developed and instituted policies and procedures to mitigate environmental damage in the event of a disaster;
    • educate its community through a preparedness awareness campaign.