LDF makes historic grant announcement and welcomes Terry Tamminen as global CEO

Utah Diné Bikéyah (UDB) is developing the two-million-acre Bears Ears National Monument in Utah. Photo courtesy of UDB.

LDF announces its largest-ever portfolio of environmental grants, increasing the organization’s total direct financial giving to over $59 million since 1998. Additionally, after a period of increased grantmaking and a goal of expanding its global impact, the foundation warmly welcomes veteran environmental leader Terry Tamminen as CEO.

$15.6 million in grants have been awarded for wildlife and habitat conservation, to aide in the defense of indigenous rights, and to support innovative grass roots efforts aimed at combating climate change and solving complex environmental issues. These grants support the work of LDF partners, which range from major environmental conservation organizations to local partners who are fighting to protect and defend vital ecosystems and species that are gravely impacted by the global environmental crisis caused by climate change.

Today we are greatly increasing our level of vital grantmaking and strategic partnerships to help solve some of the world’s most pressing environmental challenges. — Leonardo DiCaprio, Founder and Chairman of LDF

In his new role as CEO, Mr. Tamminen will oversee operations, the implementation of a new comprehensive climate change action plan, and numerous global environmental and climate change initiatives. He will report directly to Mr. DiCaprio. “We are pleased to have Terry join us as CEO,” said Mr. DiCaprio. “Terry is a proven leader, with the experience and passion necessary to work alongside Justin and the entire LDF team to further strengthen and expand the impact of our global efforts.”

LDF Executive Director Justin Winters, who has been with the foundation since 2007, will continue expanding its extensive global grantmaking program and strategic partnerships. As with the grant portfolio announced today, Mrs. Winters will work to identify, support and collaborate with the most innovative and effective environmental programs, which range from major conservation and climate groups, to grassroots initiatives and committed activists.

Mr. Tamminen joins LDF from Seventh Generation Advisors, a boutique environmental consulting practice he founded in 2007 to provide advice and guidance to policymakers and emerging leaders on the development and adoption of clean energy economies worldwide. He previously served as Secretary of the California Environmental Protection Agency under Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, and is a prominent figure in the environmental movement.

“Leo and his foundation have been an invaluable voice in the environmental movement for many years,” said Mr. Tamminen. “I am proud to join them in the fight for the defense of our natural world and the protection of every living creature on Earth. I look forward to working with Leo and the LDF team as we expand the impact of the foundation in the years to come.”

Several of the grant recipients commented on today’s announcement and what the expansion of the LDF program means for the environmental movement:

Our most iconic wildlife is on the precipice, worldwide; but the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation and WCN have envisioned a different path forward. LDF’s funding has been catalytic in launching wildlife crisis funds to support the best ideas and most urgent actions from a coalition of the biggest to the smallest organizations to turn the tables in wildlife’s favor. LDF’s investment in the Elephant Crisis Fund, created in partnership with Save the Elephants, has enabled support to more than 100 projects by 40 organizations across Africa and Asia to end the ivory crisis and ensure these giants will forever roam free. That is nothing short of game-changing, and LDF’s investments will ensure more species, like African Lions, will soon be stepping back from the brink.  — Jeffrey Parish, Vice President for Conservation for the Wildlife Conservation Network
This important grant will help Our Children’s Trust advance the global climate campaign in which more and more young people around the globe are exercising their fundamental constitutional and public trust rights to demand urgent reductions in carbon and methane pollution to stabilize our climate system and protect our oceans. Where political branches of governments have failed us, these youth are bringing landmark actions in their state and federal courts to secure the legally binding right to a healthy atmosphere and stable climate, in accordance with current science, for the benefit of all present and future generations. Our Children’s Trust elevates the powerful voice of youth to secure their unalienable rights through full democratic civic engagement, just as the youth of the U.S. civil rights movement and youth around the world have done throughout history to redress vast social injustices.  —  Julia Olsen, Executive Director & Chief Legal Counsel of Our Children’s Trust
On behalf of Utah Dine Bikeyah, I am honored to accept the support of LDF to continue advancing our mission of healing people and the Earth through preservation of Native American natural and cultural resources. News of LDF’s support comes at a critical moment in the Bears Ears National Monument campaign, an inter-tribal initiative calling on President Obama to protect two million acres of ancestral homelands in southeastern Utah, considered sacred by numerous regional Tribes. We greatly appreciate the dedication of LDF in protecting mother earth and acknowledging the important role of indigenous leaders in the conservation movement as we move forward together.  — Willie Grayeyes, Board Chairman of the Utah Diné Bikéyah

Grants were awarded in 5 key program areas  — Wildlife & Habitat Protection, Oceans Conservation, Indigenous Rights,  Innovative Solutions, and Climate Change. Below is a summary of this round of grants:

Wildlife/Habitat Protection Portfolio: $7,631,508

LDF is protecting endangered wildlife by enabling cutting-edge, results-driven conservation and restoration projects in the world’s most biodiverse ecosystems. Only 12% of the world’s forests and natural wildlands are protected. As global demand increases for timber, fossil fuels, minerals, and agricultural products like palm oil, rubber and soy, corporations are encroaching deeper into the world’s last wild places. The foundation’s grant making strategy aims to improve the future for vulnerable wildlife on land by protecting and restoring natural habitats, ending poaching in critical regions, and reintroducing native species back into the wild. At the same time, the foundation’s partners on the ground work with local governments and communities to build successful, long-term solutions that benefit all stakeholders.  Grantees include the Elephant Crisis Fund (Wildlife Conservation Network and Save the Elephants), Lion Recovery Fund (Wildlife Conservation Network), Mkomazi Rhino Sanctuary (George Adamson African Wildlife Preservation Trust), Maasai Wilderness Conservation Fund, Turtle Conservancy, Naturalia, California Mountain Lion Conservation (National Park Service), World Wildlife Fund, Pacific Wolf Coalition, Defenders of Wildlife and International Fund for Animal Welfare.

Oceans Portfolio: $2,525,000

LDF is a leader in marine conservation, working to improve ocean health and protect key ocean ecosystems and marine wildlife by supporting innovative projects in underserved areas. Oceans provide half of the world’s oxygen supply, regulate the global climate system and directly support the life of nearly 50% of all living species. Yet, only 2% of the oceans are formally protected. LDF’s partnerships aim to safeguard endangered ocean habitats and species, constrain overfishing, and establish and expand marine protected areas. Grantees include Oceans 5 and the Global Partnerships for Sharks Fund.

Indigenous Rights Portfolio: $2,100,000 million

Less than one percent of philanthropic giving goes to indigenous people and issues, and only a small fraction of that money is granted to indigenous-led organizations or initiatives directly. Yet, according to the IUCN, 80% of the world’s remaining biological diversity is found on indigenous lands and traditional territories; 90% of the world’s language and cultural diversity. Even without consideration of vital justice, human rights, and equity issues, arguably one of the most important strategies to protect wild species and places, is to partner with the people who call those places home. Investment in the emergence of an effective, empowered, and indigenous-led conservation movement is essential to protecting the Earth. Grantees include Utah Dine Bikeyah, RAVEN, United Tribes of Bristol Bay, Wishtoyo Foundation and Amazon Watch.

Innovative Solutions Portfolio: $2,085,000

Portfolio Objectives: LDF’s Innovative Solutions portfolio is designed to support innovation at the grassroots level that can be replicated and amplified to bring about new pathways for change. The work in this context includes tools and tactics that are flexible, forward thinking and creative. The range of tools includes new ways to use the legal framework to empower communities, sustainable design, technology driven solutions and empowering citizens to become active through bold media and education initiatives. Grantees include Digital Democracy, Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund, Mongabay, Waterkeeper Alliance, Water Defense, Bioneers, Biomimicry Institute, Earth Echo International and People’s Grocery.

Climate Change Portfolio: $1,300,000

The outcome of COP21 signals that there is an unprecedented opportunity to invest in climate solutions that will further elevate the urgency of the issue and immediately make an impact. The consensus that was reached at COP21 signaled a greater opportunity to accelerate the deployment of strategies and solutions in order to make a broader impact. Investing in a diverse combination of powerful tools can help to increase our efforts to lower greenhouse gas emissions and expedite the transition to a clean, green economy. These tools include innovative use of the legal system, media, and technology. Grantees include Our Children’s Trust, Desmog Blog, Empowered By Light, TreePeople and Native Renewables.

About Terry Tamminen

Terry Tamminen is the CEO of the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation (LDF). Prior to joining LDF, Mr. Tamminen founded Seventh Generation Advisors, a boutique environmental consulting practice that provides advice and guidance to policymakers and emerging leaders on the development and adoption of clean energy use worldwide.

Mr. Tamminen was a close advisor to former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. In November 2003 he was appointed as the Secretary of the California Environmental Protection Agency, later becoming Chief Policy Advisor to the Governor. Mr. Tamminen was the architect of many sustainability policies including California’s Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006, the Hydrogen Highway Network, and the Million Solar Roofs initiative.

Mr. Tamminen founded the Los Angeles Waterkeeper as the Santa Monica Bay Keeper in 1993, and co-founded Waterkeeper programs to protect and defend five additional California watersheds. He served as the Executive Director of the Environment Now Foundation in Santa Monica, CA and co-founded the Frank G. Wells Environmental Law Clinic at the School of Law, University of California Los Angeles (now the Emmett Institute for Climate Policy at UCLA Law).

He is a Cullman Senior Fellow for climate policy at the New America Foundation and was appointed as an Operating Advisor to Pegasus Capital Advisors, a private equity fund that provides capital to middle market companies across a wide variety of industries specializing in resource efficiency and sustainable technologies. In 2011 Mr. Tamminen was appointed as the R20 Regions of Climate Action Founding Chair’s Strategic Advisor.

An accomplished author, Terry’s book, Lives Per Gallon: The True Cost of Our Oil Addiction, is a timely examination of our dependence on oil and a strategy to evolve to more sustainable energy sources. In Cracking the Carbon Code: The Keys to Sustainable Profits in the New Economy, he shows how to find the low carbon products and services that save money, get ahead of regulations, and preserve resources for generations to come. His latest book, Watercolors: How JJ the Whale Saved Us is a true story of wildlife rescue and the connection of climate change impacts to the future of all living things. His blog is syndicated on CNBC, Fast Company, and the Huffington Post.

Last updated April 13, 2017

Through collaborative partnerships, we support innovative projects that protect vulnerable wildlife from extinction, while restoring balance to threatened ecosystems and communities. Our work is divided into six main program areas – Wildlands Conservation, Oceans Conservation, Climate Change, Indigenous Rights, Transforming California, and Innovative Solutions.

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