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Revaluing Ecosystems: Earth Day and Beyond

Today, on the 45th anniversary of the first Earth Day in 1970, over a billion people around the world are taking action to protect the planet. In China, a hiking group is cleaning up a part of the Great Wall. In Lagos, environmentalists plan to teach their fellow citizens about the importance of cutting carbon emissions.

Here at The Rockefeller Foundation we’re working to leverage markets and the overlooked power of ecosystems to spark development, build long-term resilience, and promote inclusive economies, especially for the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people.

Here are five ways in which we’re working to revalue ecosystems – and help sustain our planet.

Installing the final module on a solar panel.

1. Clean Energy

Judith Rodin, President

We believe India can lead the world in solving the problems of energy poverty and unleashing greater opportunities for its people. Just as agricultural productivity held the key to progress in the 20th century, we know that in the 21st century, with power comes progress.

Now is the time for an energy revolution in India.

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Image from 'Weird Weather: More Drought, Less Water'

2. Water Management

Fred Boltz, Managing Director

Fresh water is vital to human life and well-being. However, by 2030 global water demand is expected to exceed current supply by 40 percent. We are optimists who believe we can collectively solve this problem—but we need to do it now, before it is simply too late.

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3. Climate Change Resilience

Anna Brown, Senior Associate Director

In Asia, 53 percent of the population now lives in cities, and each year the rate of rural to urban migration is accelerating. Producing 70-80 percent of a nation’s GDP on average, urban areas are the engines of national economies, making urban climate change resilience a critical focus for Sendai and beyond.

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Chiang Rai, Thailand

4. Sustainable Fisheries

Cristina Rumbaitis Del Rio, Senior Associate Director

When it comes to marine resources generally, and the fisheries sector specifically, a first principle of inclusive blue growth needs to include asking the question, growth for whom? The answer needs to include the men and women dependent on fisheries for both livelihoods and food security, and keeping them top of mind alongside revaluing critical ecosystem services. It’s not a zero sum game, and we will all lose if we fail to do this.

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5. Agricultural Development and Food Security

C.D. Glin, Associate Director

The encouraging success of India’s agricultural development sector offers particularly valuable lessons to other developing regions, including Africa, where small land-holders and others are acutely affected by poverty and food insecurity.

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