Earth Day 2018 on April 22 serves to remind us of a painful reality that we often prefer to ignore: the demands of humanity are exceeding the capacity of the planet. We depend on a healthy environment to provide clean water, food, fuel, a livable climate, and fertile soils.
Environmental degradation can be countered by building resilient communities and supporting efforts towards sustainability. That’s why we at the Inter-American Foundation (IAF) are taking action to address environmental issues – 45 percent of the nearly 300 projects currently financed by the IAF focus on the protection of forest and water sources, recycling, and sustainable solutions for smallholder farming.
This year, Earth Day is dedicated to mobilizing the world to reduce the estimated 6.3 billion metric tons of plastic pollution that are suffocating waters and landscapes worldwide. What actions can each one of us undertake to apply an Earth Day consciousness to our lives in order to address not only this critical issue but to go beyond that and make #EarthDayEveryDay? Simple actions like recycling or reducing our use of water, plastic, and paper can make a difference. At the Inter-American Foundation, for example, staff have committed to green practices such as printing less by publishing digitally instead of on paper and by recycling glass, paper, and plastic at the office.
We support efforts to counteract environmental degradation
Each year, we award grants to grassroots organizations across the hemisphere for projects that reflect a pointed awareness of the urgent need to use natural resources wisely. Whether engaged in preventing degradation or repairing it, these grantees are determined to balance their development plans with their concern for the environment. Our grantee partners design forest management plans, use organic practices, and combine traditional knowledge with other techniques to reduce costs. These sustainable practices allow communities to address food shortages, adapt to environmental challenges, and improve economic and social opportunities and health outcomes for families and communities – not only right now, but going forward, because conservation by definition reflects thinking for the long term.