November 22, 2021
World leaders and global businesses just finished participating in the annual United Nations “Conference of Parties” (COP26) summit, where nations work to solve the most challenging climate change issues. At the Caterpillar Foundation, we know how important public-private partnerships are when working towards a more sustainable future – and our work with Raleigh Water, The Conservation Fund, Conservation Trust for North Carolina and Triangle Land Conservancy, Cities4Forests and the World Resources Institute (WRI) is a great example of companies, non-profits, land trusts and water utilities coming together to make an impact in sustainable infrastructure.
We are on a mission to help build and maintain resilient communities that thrive in a rapidly changing world. Part of this focus includes restoring natural ecosystems to withstand the shocks and stresses caused by environmental degradation and natural disasters, and building basic infrastructure services, like water and energy, to help communities grow stronger. Through advisory services with WRI, we’ve invested in a unique collaboration of land trusts, that ultimately drive cost-effective strategies to protect water qualities for generations to come.
North Carolina’s Triangle region, which includes Raleigh has one of the fastest growing populations in the United States. Many people in the Caterpillar family also call this region home. With more and more people moving to the Triangle Region, there is an ever-growing need to provide clean and affordable drinking water. The City of Raleigh alone expects to increase its water customer base by almost 200,000 people by 2030.
One of the most effective ways to protect drinking water sources is to protect the land around them, especially public lands that are highly vulnerable to development, according to WRI. Naturally occurring infrastructure like forests, wetlands, and open fields slow down the rain and runoff, giving water time to filter gradually, and naturally through the soil. To protect this natural infrastructure, government bodies, local civic societies, and private foundations like ourselves came together to create a partnership to safeguard these vital local lands.
We’re proud to be one of the first corporate foundations to develop a dedicated program for delivering clean drinking water, and through partnerships like WRI and on-the-ground partners, we’re making strides to protect 30,000 acres of land in this region over the next 30 years. Clean, affordable drinking water is just one benefit of a protected watershed – land conservation also creates new parks and greenways and protects communities against the ill-effects of climate change, like floods and pollution.
Our hope is that the success of initiatives like the Upper Neuse Clean Water Initiative can catalyze momentum for new environmental innovation and investment. Collaboration is key to achieving sustainable infrastructure solutions and together with Raleigh Water, The Conservation Fund, Conservation Trust for North Carolina and Triangle Land Conservancy, Cities4Forests and WRI, we are building resilient communities – one tree at a time.