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Update on Future Funding Priorities for the DDCF Environment Program

Update from Andrew Bowman,
Program Director for the Environment

As we begin a new decade at the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, we have updated the five-year grant-making priorities of the foundation's Environment Program. These priorities will enable the Environment Program to strategically address the continuing and worsening problems of biodiversity loss and climate change, as well as increase the program's relevance and impact.

Since its inception, the focus of the Environment Program has been on the preservation of biodiversity – both flora and fauna – primarily by accelerating the pace of wildlife habitat conservation in the United States. In recent years, we have sought to achieve this goal by challenging the conservation field to adopt shared land protection priorities and to act on those priorities.

Going forward, the Environment Program will continue this emphasis on strategic habitat conservation while placing a greater priority on demonstrating how to help wildlife adapt to the detrimental impacts of climate change. Likewise, we anticipate that capital investments in the permanent protection of terrestrial and freshwater areas will continue to be the largest expenditure of Environment Program funds over the next five years. Land and water resources to be protected through these grants will be located across the country and will be selected for their current strategic habitat values as well as their capacity to enable wildlife to adapt to climate change.

Consistent with our focus on climate change, we will apply a new energy lens to guide our efforts to conserve intact landscapes. As the nation shifts to a climate-friendly system of power generation, the footprint of energy development will expand. Sometimes referred to as "energy sprawl," this infrastructure is increasingly being sited on lands that provide important wildlife habitat. The Environment Program will make grants to encourage the sensitive siting of energy infrastructure such that clean-energy facilities are built expeditiously but in a way that does not destroy or fragment wildlife habitat more than necessary.

We also realize that the need to build power generation and transmission facilities, as well as the associated greenhouse gas emissions, can be reduced by increasing the efficiency with which we use energy. In short, when it comes to preserving our intact landscapes, how we use energy is as important as where we decide to locate our energy facilities. Accordingly, the Environment Program will take on a grant-making strategy first adopted under the DDCF Climate Change Initiative (a time-limited grant-making program discussed below) to reduce energy demand in the buildings sector. The Environment Program will support the adoption of codes and standards that mandate building efficiencies as well as innovative mechanisms to achieve building efficiency retrofits at scale.

In line with its emphases on wildlife habitat conservation and efficient built environments, the Environment Program will also target a modest level of grant-making resources locally (i.e., New York City and the Tri-State area). This grant-making will allow the Environment Program to build a new focus around urban environmental challenges and will provide support for innovative local efforts to manage wildlife habitat and create efficient, healthy, and vibrant built and natural environments.

Finally, we note that the DDCF Climate Change Initiative continues to operate but will wind down by the end of 2011. During this time, the initiative will remain focused on analytical work that informs domestic and international policies that are needed to help foster technological innovation in the energy sector and accelerate the emergence of new clean-energy technologies. As of today's date, the initiative has resources to award approximately $1 million in additional grants. Given these limited funds, future grants will most likely not exceed $100,000 each.

We look forward to working with our grantees and others in the field as we implement these grant-making priorities. Please also do not hesitate to contact us if we can provide further clarification.