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United Way Blog

United Way Celebrates World Environment Day

World Environment Day (June 5) brings together millions of people around the globe to celebrate and raise awareness about environmental issues. It’s the largest global platform for environmental public outreach in the world, according to the  United Nations Environment Programme. United Ways around the world are actively supporting their communities in addressing the challenges posed by climate change, as part of our commitment to making a positive impact and empowering the 1,100 communities we serve.

By 2030, our planet may lose up to 90% of its forests. If deforestation continues at its current rate, these vital ecosystems could vanish within a century. Recognizing the urgency of this issue, United Way of Puerto Rico is collaborating with companies and communities to safeguard the San Patricio State Forest.

The initiative began with installing a Born Learning Trail, sponsored by a local bank, in response to severe damage caused by Hurricane Maria. This endeavor evolved into a joint restoration project with the Department of Natural and Environmental Resources. The trail now also encompasses the development of sidewalks, the Casa Mía tree house, an orchard, a plant nursery, and sensory equipment for children. United Way’s efforts promote environmental conservation and contribute to the forest's evolution process, benefiting the entire community.

Another pressing environmental issue is coral bleaching and the subsequent loss of coral reefs due to ocean acidification. Rising ocean temperatures disrupt the symbiotic relationship between reefs and the algae that inhabit them, leading to the expulsion of algae and the loss of vibrant colors in coral reefs.

United Way of Collier and the Keys is on the front lines in protecting Florida's 255-mile barrier reef against these threats. In February 2020, United Way announced a generous $3.5 million gift from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to fund innovative reef restoration and education projects. Mission: Iconic Reefs aims to restore seven reefs in the Florida Keys, providing physical and financial safety and empowering future generations to carry on this crucial work. Protecting these reefs also safeguards the livelihoods of 60% of Keys residents who depend on the marine environment for their livelihoods. The restoration of corals at these reef sites within the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary ensures the future of the coastal ecosystem.

Changes in the ocean such as rising sea levels are also a threat to our planet’s mangroves. Some tree species cannot tolerate the influx of saltwater or escape the surging tides. Coastal wetlands, like mangroves, are critical to the fight against climate change since they absorb significant amount of greenhouse gas emissions, reduce erosion and ease storm surge impacts. United Way Mumbai’s Mission Mangroves campaign, partners with the Mangrove Cell of the State Forest Department and the Mangrove and Marine Biodiversity Conservation Foundation. Together, they adopted 30 hectares (74 acres) of degraded wetlands at Karave and Khopar Khairane in Navi Mumbai and in Vikhroli with the aim to restore Mumbai's depleted mangrove cover. As of March 2022, they have greened a total of 33 hectares (81 acres) of wetlands, planting 149,845 mangrove saplings, restoring the natural barrier and helping to maintain a habitat for a diversity of plants and animals.

United Way Mumbai is also partnering Mangrove and Marine Biodiversity Conservation Foundation of Maharashtra to collect, clean and sort non-bio-degradable waste at three wetland locations in Mumbai. Since December, cleanup crews have collected 59 megatons (Mt) of waste from the wetlands, 32.5 Mt of which has been sent for recycling. 

The challenges presented by climate change are daunting — but United Way believes we can make a real difference in protecting our environment by working together and supporting each other. Together, we have the power to heal and protect our Earth. When we unite as a community, whether locally or globally, we can create meaningful change. Join us, and find out what you can do by connecting with your local United Way

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