By: Waterkeeper Alliance
Waterkeeper Alliance in partnership with the California-based International Community Foundation (ICF), Environment Now, and California Coastkeeper Alliance held a successful fundraising event Thursday, February 9 in Santa Monica, CA (read more here). The event marked the official launch of ICF’s Baja California Regional Fund, an effort to raise $500,000 to sustain for the next 3 years the operations, programs, and advocacy of 10 Waterkeeper organizations in Mexico’s Baja California peninsula.
In attendance were representatives from other California-based funding entities such as Marisla Foundation and the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation as well as major donors who came to learn about the work that Waterkeepers carry out in the region, which has remained a hidden gem but faces a tide of threats from domestic and industrial pollution to unregulated coastal development. To the funders that were at the event, a big thank you for joining us and helping celebrate the on-going work of these Waterkeepers! It was very encouraging to see your show of support and we look forward to hearing from you as we collaborate to protect the precious coastal resources of the Baja California peninsula.
With growing concern about the impact of the new U.S. administration on collaborative projects between the U.S. and Mexico, now more than ever it’s time to build on the momentum of last week’s event and support the work of our Baja Waterkeepers. Take, for example, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which currently has in place a number of programs that seek to conserve and protect natural resources and ecosystem services shared by the U.S. and Mexico along the peninsula. These programs could be reduced and even disappear as the new U.S. administration introduces new policies. These programs provide important funding and technical support for the conservation of wetlands, watersheds, waterways, ecosystem services, and endangered flora and fauna.
Recalling his own personal experience protecting water resources in in Baja, Mr. Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., Waterkeeper Alliance’s President, spoke at last week’s event and referred to the gold rush bonanza led by giant hotels to colonize the peninsula. “I’ve seen what happens when big hotels come in. Life <that local residents> had with –good health and dignity– is taken away from them,” said Mr. Kennedy. He added, “The Waterkeepers who are here today understand that is the future if there isn’t somebody local who is standing up articulating to the government and regulators and to the world that we have something here worth saving that we don’t want to give up. We have something here that we are going to fight for. We need to support them.”
The Waterkeeper movement offers a vision of what America ought to look like, what Mexico ought to look like, with democracies, healthy children and kids that have the same opportunity for enrichment and health as we do. To paraphrase Mr. Kennedy, the mere existence of the marine life, native species and incredible beauty of Baja California enriches the entire human race. And to allow these resources to be damaged or destroyed is to permanently impoverish not only the communities of Baja California, but also all of humankind. Now is the time to band together and protect the beauty of Baja California. We hope you will join us! Please donate here.