Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update:
September 1st, 2020
To Our Valued Earthwatch Community:
The term “unprecedented” has perhaps never been used with such frequency or force as in these past few months. Our world has been upended. The impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic have rattled healthcare systems around the world, tested leaders and nations, and brought the global economy to a standstill. And to combat this crisis, we must isolate—physically distancing ourselves from one another—at a time when human connection feels even more important.
At Earthwatch, connection is not just a value of ours—it’s our entire reason for being. Since 1971, we have brought people together from all walks of life—scientists and non-scientists from different countries, cultures, backgrounds, ages, and belief systems—who are committed to studying and protecting the world we live in. And it’s in part because of this that we are now facing one of the biggest financial crises we’ve experienced in almost 50 years of operation.
In March of this year, we began cancelling our volunteer teams on a rolling basis. As of today, we have cancelled all teams fielding through the month of October, and will be making decisions about our November teams at the end of September.
The decision to cancel Earthwatch teams to date has largely been based on health and travel guidance and advisories from trusted authorities such as the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. State Department, and the World Health Organization, as well as our independent security advisor, On Call International. In some cases, cancellation decisions also relate to ongoing research challenges, including the potential impacts of COVID-19 on wildlife, the closure of parks and reserves to the public, and limitations on our PIs’ abilities to travel to their respective field sites. Unfortunately, we have been forced to cancel the majority of our field season this year, which has had a tremendous impact on our financial wellbeing.
Sadly, we know that we are far from alone. So many of you in our global Earthwatch community have been deeply impacted by this pandemic, and our thoughts are with you. We also know that together, we can and will get through this.
If you would like to support Earthwatch during this crisis, we have recently set up an emergency Earthwatch Fund to support our ongoing operations. We have also developed this page to share the many different ways in which you can support us and demonstrate your commitment to our mission, whether it’s signing up for our newsletter, buying Earthwatch gear, or even building a rain garden.
Disaster preparedness and international safety management have been the cornerstones of Earthwatch's operations throughout our near 50-year history. We are proud that our safety record has maintained the wellbeing of our volunteers and kept them informed, no matter where they have traveled. We are fully prepared to meet this same level of care and service through the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic.
All storms shall pass. It’s how we weather them that counts. As we face down this public health crisis together, we maintain our hope for a better future—one where we recognize the true value and importance of connection.
Scott Kania, CEO