83-Year-Old Swiss Entrepreneur Donates $1 Billion to Protect the Planet

Swiss Businessman Hansjörg Wyss Donates $1 Billion to Protect 30% of the Planet By 2030

Notoriously media-shy Swiss businessman and philanthropist Hansjörg Wyss has launched and donated $1 billion to the Wyss Campaign for Nature in a bid to conserve 30 percent of the planet’s land and oceans by 2030.

It is the most ambitious project of the businessman’s environmental charity, The Wyss Foundation, to date. The initiative will aim to guard twice the amount of land and ocean that is currently protected.

Writing for The New York Times (NYT), the 83-year-old, who lives in Wyoming, explained the importance of the project. He wrote, “Plant and animal species are estimated to be disappearing at a rate 1,000 times faster than they were before humans arrived on the scene. Climate change is upending natural systems across the planet. Forests, fisheries and drinking water supplies are imperiled as extractive industries chew further into the wild.”

Wyss called upon citizens, philanthropists, business and government leaders to “narrow” the “gap between how little of our natural world is currently protected and how much should be protected.”

According to a statement, the project’s long-term plan involves “creating and expanding protected areas, encouraging the international community to establish more ambitious protected area targets, investing in science, and inspiring conservation action and new investments around the world.”

Funded by a $1 billion donation by Wyss and supported by conservation groups including the National Geographic Society and The Nature Conservancy, the campaign has already selected nine conservation projects across 13 countries. These will be granted $48 million to help protect 10 million acres of land and 17,000 square kilometres of ocean.

The Nature Conservancy will also receive $6.9 million to aid in both its marine conservation work in the Caribbean and efforts to protect migratory birds in Australia. Mark Tercek, CEO of The Nature Conservancy, said, “The Wyss Campaign for Nature is remarkable for its vision, scale, and extraordinary commitment to conserving lands and waters in the public trust. The Nature Conservancy is… grateful for Hansjörg Wyss’s philanthropic leadership at such a critical moment for our planet’s wild places.”

Wyss’ Philanthropic Efforts

Wyss’ foundation has donated over $450 million over the last 20 years to conserve wild habitats across Europe, Africa, South America, Mexico, the U.S., and Canada. Through this, almost 40 million acres of land and water are being protected.

The elusive businessman has also backed anti-poaching initiatives, national park enhancement, rails-to-trails conservancy, and river restoration projects. He has also protected land in the American West from oil and gas drilling.

The Wyss Campaign for Nature takes his environmental efforts even further, according to the man himself: “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.”