April 27, 2023
Forty-six years after the last United Nations (UN) Water Conference, the international community came together in March to tackle the global water crisis and find solutions to provide safe water and sanitation for all humanity. The UN Water Conference demonstrated the importance of cooperation across sectors, stakeholders and borders to make progress in the water crisis.
Earth Month is a critical time to reflect on the importance of conservation and our responsibility to protect the planet for future generations. Earth’s health and well-being are vital to our survival, and restoring its resources are essential to maintaining the delicate balance of the ecosystems we rely on. At the Caterpillar Foundation, we partner with organizations to improve equitable access to life-sustaining resources like water.
Our work with The Nature Conservancy in Brazil’s Mantiqueira Mountain range, which is 10 million hectares, exemplifies this work. The area houses the Atlantic Forest, which has been reduced to 12% of its original size due to deforestation. This ecosystem is prominent in several major natural water storage and filtrations systems, and its removal is leading to water insecurity and impacting over 20 million Brazilians. Community engagement is critical to boosting restoration efforts and ensuring its conservation; working with local farmers, ranchers and key stakeholders we have restored over 2,000 hectares of the forest, with plans to impact 1.2 million more endangered hectares, or 40% of the original forest area by 2030. With a science-based approach, this project supports a healthy aquafer while sequestering carbon dioxide, safeguarding biodiversity and preventing forest fire.
Similarly, our partner World Resources Institute’s African Forest Landscape Restoration Initiative is working to improve water security by restoring 100 million hectares of deforested and degraded land throughout a number of African countries, including Guinea, Mozambique, Ghana, Mali and Burkina Faso, by 2030. In addition to improved water security, restoration is good for the community and delivers economic, ecological and climate benefits, including improved food security, soil regeneration for farming, better air quality, and repaired wildlife habitats. This effort will also increase the standard monitoring and reporting approaches to ensure stronger, data-driven and more effective interventions can be leveraged in the future.
In addition, Water For People emphasizes the inseparability of sustainable water and climate action, as climate change impacts water quality, quantity, access, and the health and safety of those around it. Worldwide, more infrastructure and investment are needed to provide disaster-resilient water and safe sanitation systems to realize a just and equitable future. In India, Water for People is collaborating with local governments and stakeholders in West Bengal to enhance water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) systems, which affect health, education and productivity, particularly for girls and women in charge of retrieving water. They plan to improve WASH systems in every district by sustainably building capacity and using Water Resource Management plans.
Caterpillar Foundation President, Asha Varghese, stated, “Caterpillar Foundation is proud to work with organizations committed to ensuring equitable access to resources. These increasingly extreme climate events predominately and disproportionately impact low-income and under-represented communities. We look forward to continuing the critical work toward a water-secure world to ensure that the planet, its resources and people are protected for future generations.”
By restoring the Earth’s natural resources, we create more resilient ecosystems that can better withstand environmental stresses while supporting the well-being of those who rely on it. The Caterpillar Foundation and our partners, including The Nature Conservancy, World Resources Institute and Water For People, are committed to continuing this vital work for those most impacted.