Looking around the world today, it can become tempting to wonder if anyone is taking any serious steps to protect the natural environment in what seems to be an increasingly perilous set of circumstances for the natural world. Swiss billionaire Hansjörg Wyss is one ultra-wealthy individual who seems serious about doing what he can in that regard, taking to The New York Times op-ed page to announce a pledge of $1 billion to put 30 percent of the planet under protection by the year 2030.
As it stands now, only 15 percent of land and seven percent of the oceans have been firmly protected in their natural state, and Wyss' overall goal is to get both of those figures up as high as possible in order to conserve the planet's supply of resources like clean water and breathable air. As he puts it in his op-ed:
"Every one of us — citizens, philanthropists, business and government leaders — should be troubled by the enormous gap between how little of our natural world is currently protected and how much should be protected … It is a gap that we must urgently narrow, before our human footprint consumes the earth's remaining wild places."
The billion dollars will be given through Wyss' own Wyss Foundation over the next ten years, with an eye towards getting as much land as possible designated as public national parks, wildlife refuges, or marine reserves, which he says remain the best ways to keep land and other natural resources as well preserved as they can be. In addition, Wyss is also funding research efforts at the University of Bern to determine the best ways to carry out these conservation aims.
This isn't Wyss' first large gift towards the cause of environmental conservation, although it is his largest. Previously, he made a donation of $450 million towards conserving wildlife and their natural habitats across 40 million acres on four continents.