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Fast Facts



Earthwatch inspires connections between people and the environment.

Our mission is to engage people worldwide in scientific field research and education to promote the understanding and action necessary for a sustainable environment.

Since 1971, we've been enabling people from all walks of life to join leading scientists working on crucial environmental research projects locally and globally. We currently support about 60 projects in nearly 40 countries. We operate from seven offices worldwide. Learn more about our:


INSPIRING CONNECTIONS



In Science

We're one of the world's largest private funders of scientific research. Outcomes from Earthwatch projects are published in hundreds of peer-reviewed journal papers every year and shared with partner organizations, government agencies, and policy makers. We support research in:

  • Wildlife and ecosystems
  • Ocean health
  • Climate change
  • Archaeology and culture

We work with emerging conservationists in developing countries thanks to a number of generous trusts and corporate partners. Since 1995, more than 1,600 individuals have benefited from this initiative.

Find out more about our scientists and the scientific research they lead.


In People

Since we were founded, around 100,000 people from the general public have joined Earthwatch in the field, contributing roughly 10,000,000 hours of data collection—far more than our scientists could have collected alone. We are not a voluntourism, ecotourism, or adventure travel company. Our expeditions offer experiences that are very different from those of for-profit tour operators, because our volunteers get meaningfully involved with real scientific fieldwork. Our volunteers have ranged in age from 10 to over 80! Our standard expeditions have a minimum age of 18 except for volunteers accompanied by a parent or legal guardian, in which case the minimum age for most expeditions is 15. We also run teen and student teams. You don't need a scientific background to be a volunteer, and no prior skills are required (except for a scuba certification for diving projects). Contributions to our standard-duration projects are tax deductible in the U.S., and we encourage you to consult your tax advisor for the details.

Find out more about our expedition opportunities.


In Education

Earthwatch Expeditions provide unparalleled learning experiences, turning amazing landscapes into natural classrooms. Around 4,000 students and 5,000 educators have benefited from Earthwatch fellowships to date, funded by individuals, foundations, and corporations. It's the mixture of education and adventure that has seen many of our student fellows choose to study science in higher education and even pursue it as a career.

Earthwatch fellowships also offer zookeepers the chance to enhance their knowledge of animals in the wild. We also collaborate with the Open University in the U.K., and Open University students can gain full accreditation for their Earthwatch experience.

Find out more about our work in education.


In Business

Earthwatch is proud to collaborate with nearly 40 corporate partners around the world across a broad range of industry sectors. Companies are increasingly aware that the incorporation of sustainable practices into business strategies not only is better for the environment but also makes good business sense. We select companies that take their environmental responsibilities and performance seriously and are open to working constructively with us to benefit the environment and help us achieve our mission. We work with our corporate partners to design and deliver learning and engagement programs for their employees to help them develop key leadership skills, networking, and profile-raising opportunities. We also encourage a culture of sustainability by building a collective awareness, knowledge, and engagement in the organization's commitment to the environment.

Find out more about those partnering with us and how you can get your business involved.


FACTS & FIGURES


Since 1971, we've invested in nearly 1,400 conservation research projects in more than 120 countries. Around 85 percent of our budget directly supports research and engagement programs. The majority of our costs are funded by companies, charitable trusts and foundations, international institutions, government agencies, individual memberships and donations, and other sources. Like all charities, Earthwatch must fundraise to pay for its core operating costs, which are only partly funded by the contributions of expedition volunteers.

When you make a contribution to join an expedition, here's how the figure breaks down (on average across all our projects):

  • 57 percent is spent by the scientists managing the expedition. This typically covers costs of vital supplies, equipment, research permits, rents, utilities, and the hiring of local cooks or drivers, as well as your food, accommodation, and local transport costs.
  • 20 percent is spent by Earthwatch on political, meteorological, and physical risk assessments, health and safety policies, 24-7 crisis response and emergency management procedures, and associated training of research scientists.
  • 12 percent is spent by Earthwatch to promote expeditions to the public and service your participation, including printing our expedition guide, Earthwatch Research Expeditions, and website maintenance. We do not pay to advertise.
  • 8 percent is spent by Earthwatch to take your booking, review your participation forms, send you an expedition briefing pack, and thoroughly prepare you before departure for your expedition.
  • 3 percent is spent on medical and evacuation insurance coverage, travel insurance coverage, and offsetting the greenhouse gas emissions of your travel.

We work with emerging conservationists in developing countries thanks to a number of generous trusts and corporate partners. Since 1995, more than 1,600 individuals have benefited from this initiative.


RESPONSIBLE OPERATIONS


Our Environmental Impact.

Earthwatch monitors its resource use and is working to reduce its global environmental footprint. In 2012 we set a five-year target of reducing the greenhouse gas emissions associated with our resource use by 10 percent. In our work in the field, we assess the environmental credentials of potential accommodations and venues to be used by Earthwatch volunteers as part of our site assessment process. We also include sustainability guidance in the field manual issued to all of our partners and scientists to help them ensure that the principles of sustainability are integrated into field program design.

Earthwatch is developing a global environmental management system based on the requirements of ISO14001 and is working toward carbon neutrality (as defined by PAS2060:2010) as a key building block of that work.

Earthwatch seeks to purchase energy from renewable sources and measures energy consumption where practical.

We encourage volunteers to use alternative forms of travel (such as trains, ferries, or buses) that have lower greenhouse gas emissions per person per mile travelled. We can provide advice and information to volunteers about overland travel to expeditions in Europe.

Earthwatch has purchased high-quality carbon credits to compensate for our carbon emissions since 2005. We currently purchase our carbon credits through Climate Care and have focused on purchasing credits supporting community and renewable energy projects.

Earthwatch scientists in Kenya are developing the first community mangrove conservation project to be funded by the voluntary carbon market. It is gaining accreditation through Plan Vivo—the standard for designing and certifying community-based payments for ecosystem services (PES) programs. The project will have a positive impact on mangrove forests in Gazi Bay, Kenya, will benefit the local community, and has the potential to influence mangrove management policy throughout Kenya.

Working with Local and Indigenous Communities
On the vast majority of Earthwatch expeditions, the research team leading the expedition has strong ties with local government, conservation and environmental NGOs, and community leaders or village elders. Our research projects are designed to benefit local and indigenous people, their society, and their environment. Our long-term success depends on undertaking research supported by, and in close consultation and collaboration with, these communities. We engage local scientists on many research projects, employ local staff to support the smooth running of expeditions, and source food, equipment, and transport locally. 

 




CONSERVATION RESEARCH PROJECTS SINCE 1971

1400


PERCENT OF OUR BUDGET DIRECTLY SUPPORTING RESEARCH AND ENGAGEMENT PROGRAMS

85%


Earthwatch Panda Expedition

An Earthwatch participant supporting the long-term welfare of several giant pandas, one of the world’s most beloved and endangered species.



Earthwatch Connections

Earthwatch works with a wide range of stakeholders, supporting global research.

In People:

  • Since we were founded, around 100,000 people from the general public have joined Earthwatch in the field, contributing roughly 10,000,000 hours of data collection

    Around 100,000 people from the general public have joined Earthwatch in the field, contributing roughly 10,000,000 hours of data collection. See our Expeditions.

In Education:

  • Earthwatch Scuba Diving Projects

    Around 4,000 students and 5,000 educators have benefited from Earthwatch fellowships to date, funded by individuals, foundations, and corporations. Read more.

In Business:

  • Earthwatch and HSBC Climate Partnership Programme

    HSBC’s Sustainability Leadership Programme is a unique professional development experience for senior leaders, designed to promote understanding of sustainability as a core business issue and opportunity. Read more.