(3BL Media / theCSRfeed) New York - July 12, 2011 - A group of Ernst & Young LLP professionals recently returned from Brazil and Costa Rica as part of two skills-based volunteer expeditions the firm undertakes annually with the Earthwatch Institute, an organization that engages people worldwide in scientific field research.
Now entering its third year, Ernst & Young’s Earthwatch program has expanded into a second market, Brazil. During both of the one-week expeditions in Brazil and Costa Rica, volunteers conducted field-based research and devised recommendations for implementing more environmentally and economically sustainable practices.
“We are thrilled to expand our initiative with the Earthwatch Institute to help foster environmental sustainability in Brazil. The program has been a huge success for past Ernst & Young volunteers and this year presented a fresh opportunity to enter a new region. As one of the top emerging markets and home to the Atlantic Forest, Brazil is a country that demands tremendous environmental innovation,” explained Leisha John, Americas Director of Environmental Sustainability, Ernst & Young LLP.
The expedition to the Atlantic Forest in Brazil, a biodiversity “hotspot” and one of the world’s most threatened forests, enabled 10 volunteers to work alongside scientists to record and measure a variety of tree species. When enough data is collected, it will be used to make recommendations on how to best manage these forests in a changing climate. Additionally, the volunteers worked closely with a Native Bee Breeders Association, made up of 22 member families, who sell their honey throughout the region. Beekeeping has emerged as an important alternative source of income for the members, and the volunteers provided recommendations to the Association about how to expand its business in the short and long term.
“It is very exciting to see how the local communities in which we do our science can begin to benefit from the business acumen of the Ernst & Young volunteers in such a short amount of time,” said Ed Wilson, President and CEO of Earthwatch. “Empowering people is what Earthwatch is all about, and the skills transfer program adds a profound dimension to the research we are doing on the ground in Brazil.”
In Costa Rica, another 10 volunteers continued to build on the work of past Ernst & Young teams, working with a coffee farming co-operative comprising 2,600 members. Employees collected data alongside Earthwatch scientists to help determine how conservation practices may bolster biological diversity and therefore coffee crop yields. Additionally, the volunteers assisted the cooperative with its overall sustainability plan, including reporting processes, community engagement initiatives, and carbon footprint assessment.
Melanie Steiner, a Senior Manager with Ernst & Young LLP’s Americas Climate Change and Sustainability Services served as team captain for the Brazil expedition. “The Earthwatch program was a great experience for my team. It allows emerging leaders in our firm to step up and get a more tangible sense of how to approach problem solving for environmental sustainability issues,” Steiner said.
Ernst & Young LLP selected the 2011 Earthwatch expedition volunteers based on their performance, as well as enthusiasm and commitment to the environment, both personally and professionally. Many of the volunteers work in Ernst & Young LLP’s Climate Change and Sustainability Services
practice and/or volunteer with the firm’s EcoCare network, an internal, grassroots group of professionals who are committed to helping mitigate Ernst & Young’s environmental footprint.
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This news release has been issued by Ernst & Young LLP, a US client-serving member firm of Ernst & Young Global Limited.
About Earthwatch Institute
) is one of the world's leading environmental nonprofit organizations. We use a unique model of citizen science, matching volunteers with researchers to investigate some of the greatest environmental challenges facing our planet. Earthwatch is dedicated to creating an environmental legacy through scientific research projects, education and learning opportunities and engaging people in field research. Our research program involves a global community of researchers, conservation volunteers, NGOs and businesses, working together towards a sustainable environment. Since 1971 Earthwatch has inspired nearly 100,000 volunteers to join hundreds of conservation research projects in the field. We collaborate with nearly 40 corporate partners around the world, in industry sectors ranging from banking and financial services to consumer products, agriculture and extractives. Earthwatch ranked 11 out of 550 organizations featured in the "Business Guide to Partnering with NGOs and the United Nations," which was published in 2007 by The Financial Times, the United Nations Global Compact and Dalberg Global Development Advisors.