Amongst a myriad of environmental issues the world is facing today, climate change is one of the most serious and pressing ones. It’s already having significant and costly effects on our communities, our health, and our environment. Climate change is also the most significant challenge to achieving sustainable development, and it threatens to drag millions of people into crushing poverty.
Climate change encompasses not only rising average temperatures but also extreme weather events, shifting wildlife populations and habitats, rising seas, and a range of other impacts. All of these changes are emerging as humans continue to add heat-trapping greenhouse gases to the atmosphere.
The impacts of climate change are plenty.
Global average sea level has risen by about 7–8 inches since 1900. Rising seas endanger coastal cities and small island nations. Changes in water temperature are causing algae to leave coral reefs. This turns the reefs white and making them vulnerable to disease and death. Over the past 30 years, the oldest and thickest ice in the Arctic has declined by a stunning 95 percent. Global floods and extreme rainfall have surged by more than 50% this decade. They are now occurring at a rate four times higher than in 1980. (wwf.org)
Luckily, we’ve never had better know-how and solutions to avert the crisis and create opportunities for a better life. And these global nonprofit organizations are leading the change:
“Our mission is to conserve nature and reduce the most pressing threats to the diversity of life on Earth.”
WWF is the world’s largest conservation organization. It has over five million supporters worldwide, working in more than 100 countries. They support around 1,300 conservation and environmental projects.
WWF is an international nongovernmental organization. It was founded in 1961. They work in the field of wilderness preservation, and the reduction of human impact on the environment.
“350 is building a future that’s just, prosperous, equitable and safe from the effects of climate change.”
350.org org is one of the largest global movements addressing the issue of climate change. Their goal is to reduce atmospheric carbon dioxide to 350ppm from the current level of 400 ppm. They work in almost every country in the world on campaigns like fighting coal power plants in India, stopping the Keystone XL pipeline in the U.S, and divesting public institutions everywhere from fossil fuels.
CharityNavigator.org, which tracks the honesty of nonprofit groups and rates them according to transparency, gives 350 its highest score for accountability and conscientious use of funds.
“Greenpeace exists because this fragile earth deserves a voice.”
Greenpeace is a non-governmental environmental organization with offices in over 39 countries and an international coordinating body in Amsterdam, the Netherlands.
The organization has a general consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council. They use direct action, lobbying, research, and ecotage to achieve their goals and campaign on worldwide issues such as climate change, deforestation, overfishing, commercial whaling, genetic engineering, and anti-nuclear issues.
“We do this work because we revere the miracle of the natural world, its beauty, and wholeness. And we believe that reversing the perilous environmental course we are on requires all of us to step up, connect, and take action.”
The Earth Island Institute is a nonprofit environmental organization founded in 1982. They are located in Berkeley, California. It supports activism around environmental issues through fiscal sponsorship that provides the administrative and organizational infrastructure for individual projects.
They have a network of more than 75 activist projects in the U.S. and around the world.
“We take action against the companies and industries driving deforestation and climate change.”
Rainforest Action Network is an environmental nonprofit based in San Francisco, California. They first gained national prominence with a grassroots organizing campaign that in 1987 succeeded in convincing Burger King to cancel $31 million worth of destructive Central American rainforest beef contracts.
RAN pioneered the corporate campaigning model. They target the biggest players— like Home Depot, Citicorp, or Chevron. They make big statements— like dropping banners in Union Square or shutting down coal plants. Then, they try to bring the big corporate players to the boardrooms and start conversations.
“We organize to build long-term political power and campaign to change the rules of our economic and political systems that create injustice and destroy nature.”
Friends of the Earth was founded in 1969 in San Francisco. It’s an international network of organizations with a meeting of representatives from four countries, namely the U.S., Sweden, the UK, and France. The organization is highly decentralized. It is made up of autonomous organizations, with a shared analysis of the root causes of today’s most pressing environmental problems.
Roughly half of the 75 member organizations call themselves “Friends of the Earth” in their own languages.
Friends of the Earth currently have a secretariat (based in Amsterdam, Netherlands) which provides support for the network and its agreed major campaigns.
“We envision a future where all thrive within the means of our one planet.”
Their headquarters are in Oakland, California. It was founded in 2003. They are an independent think tank originally based in the United States, Belgium, and Switzerland.
They launched their Ecological Footprint Explorer open data platform in 2017, making their most recent Footprint and biocapacity data for more than 200 countries available for free. Their individual Ecological Footprint Calculator currently draws almost 3 million users per year, for a cumulative 13 million since it was launched online in 2007.
So far, they’ve engaged with more than 70 countries on six continents, got more than 15 national governments to apply the metric, and partnered with more than 80 organizations on numerous projects.
“Earth Day Network works year round to solve climate change, to end plastic pollution, to protect endangered species, and to broaden, educate, and activate the environmental movement across the globe.”
Growing out of the first Earth Day, Earth Day Network is the world’s largest recruiter to the environmental movement, working with more than 75,000 partners in nearly 192 countries.
More than 1 billion people now participate in Earth Day activities each year, making it the largest civic observance in the world.
“NRDC works to safeguard the earth—its people, its plants and animals, and the natural systems on which all life depends.”
The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is a United States-based, an international nonprofit environmental advocacy group. Headquartered in New York City, they also have offices in Washington, D.C.; San Francisco; Los Angeles; New Delhi, India; Chicago; Bozeman, Montana; and Beijing, China.
Their programs focus on clean air, global warming, transportation, energy efficiency, renewable energy, electric-industry restructuring, and more. Their Save the Bees Initiative appealing to the President to take urgent action necessary to save the bee populations from further decline by banning bee-toxic neonics.
They also work on issues involving drinking water, chemical harm to the environment, and other environmental health threats with the goal of reducing the amounts of toxins released into the environment.
“EVERY DAY IS EARTH DAY for our alliance of farmers, forest communities, companies, and consumers working to create a world where people and nature thrive in harmony.”
The Rainforest Alliance is a non-governmental organization working to conserve biodiversity and ensure sustainable livelihoods. Based in New York City with offices throughout North and South America, Asia, Africa, and Europe, it operates in more than 70 countries.
They work with rural communities, businesses, and governments to advance sustainable economic development through training; promote climate-smart land management, greenhouse gas mitigation policies, and technical assessments; and support national governments’ participation in climate policies and frameworks.
“True and lasting change happens when the power of the law is on your side. That is why the earth needs a good lawyer.”
Earthjustice is a nonprofit public interest organization based in the United States dedicated to litigating environmental issues. The headquarters are in San Francisco.
They represent their clients free of charge (thanks to the continued support of individuals and foundations). They were awarded Charity Navigator’s top rating for the past ten consecutive years. This is an achievement attained by only 2% of charities.
Their areas of casework include protecting threatened wildlife, restoring clean air and water, protecting people from pesticides and other toxic chemicals, reining in our dependence on fossil fuels, strengthening the rise of clean energy, and more.
“Our mission is to catalyze a global solution to the climate crisis by making urgent action a necessity across every level of society.”
The Climate Reality Project is a consolidation of two environmental groups, the Alliance for Climate Protection and the Climate Project. Both of them were founded by Al Gore. Among its activities, the Climate Reality Project hosts an annual event called 24 Hours of Reality and, in 2013, launched Reality Drop, a social media tool.
The Climate Reality Project gathers over 19,000 Climate Reality Leaders mobilizing communities in over 150 countries with branches in 10 critical nations and regions around the Earth. There are 100 activists chapters (and growing) pushing for practical clean energy policies across the U.S.
“Our mission is to restore the Earth’s essential forest and wetland ecosystems. We envision the Earth in balance — its original vitality and natural abundance available to all, for generations to come.”
Their approach leverages private funding to access public funding for maximum impact. Their Founders worked alongside federal and state agencies, private, philanthropic, and community organizations to initiate landscape-scale forest restoration, along with the Gulf Coast.
Since 2008, Restore the Earth has secured over $40 million in private, federal/state funding to reforest over 50,000 acres along the Gulf Coast damaged by Hurricane Katrina.
“C40 is a network of the world’s megacities committed to addressing climate change. C40 supports cities to collaborate effectively, share knowledge and drive meaningful, measurable and sustainable action on climate change.”
Mayors of the C40 cities are committed to delivering on the most ambitious goals of the Paris Agreement at the local level, as well as to cleaning the air.
Working across multiple sectors and initiative areas, C40 convenes networks of cities providing a suite of services in support of their efforts, including direct technical assistance; facilitation of peer-to-peer exchange; and research, knowledge management & communications.
Some of the C40 cities are Beijing, Paris, Stockholm, Cairo, Istanbul, London, Moscow, Lima, Chicago, and Bangkok.
“A world in which all producers can enjoy secure and sustainable livelihoods, fulfil their potential and decide on their future.”
Fairtrade International was established in 1997. They are an association of 3 Producer Networks, 19 National Fairtrade Organizations, and 8 Fairtrade Marketing Organizations. They promote and market the Fairtrade Certification Mark in their countries.
Since its beginning, Fairtrade has grown to represent over 1.65 million small-scale farmers and workers. Producers now co-own the Fairtrade system, shaping global strategy and running operations across three continents.
Fairtrade International has also developed a global work plan for climate change that focuses on supporting producers in adapting to climate change and helping them mitigate its impacts, including carbon reduction plans.
“Earthworks stands for clean air, water and land, healthy communities, and corporate accountability.”
Earthworks is a nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting communities and the environment from the adverse impacts of mineral and energy development while promoting sustainable solutions.
They partner with local affected communities, national and international advocates. They try to respond to and solve the growing threats to the earth’s natural resources, clean water, biodiversity, special places, and communities from irresponsible mining, drilling, and digging.
It draws attention to this fracking and methane emissions. Earthworks and allies helped push the Obama administration to initiate a methane emission reduction plan.
“50 years of forging solutions that help people and nature prosper.”
The headquarters of EDF is in New York, with offices around the world. It’s one of the world’s largest environmental organizations. It has more than two million members and a staff of 700 scientists, economists, policy experts, and other professionals.
They work on issues like global warming, ecosystem restoration, oceans, and human health, and advocates using sound science, economics, and law to find environmental solutions.
EDF aims to reduce the pollution and slow global warming, with strategies including overhauling U.S. energy systems, protecting the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s limits on pollution, training new climate/energy leaders, and slowing the deforestation in Brazil and the Amazon rainforest.
“Nature doesn’t need people. People need nature. Our food, our water, our health, our jobs — they all rely on the health of the planet’s ecosystems.
Conservation International employs nearly 1,000 people and works with more than 2,000 partners in 30 countries. Over the years, they have helped support 1,200 protected areas and interventions across 77 countries. They have protected more than 601 million hectares of land, marine, and coastal areas.
CI’s work focuses on science, policy, and partnership with businesses and communities. Conservation International addresses climate change on two fronts. They help communities adapt to the effects of climate change that are already happening and that is expected to accelerate, such as sea-level rise. They are also working to prevent further climate change by reducing emissions, enhancing carbon storage, etc.
In 2015, CI advised more than 20 governments during the negotiations that led to the Paris Agreement — the biggest collective commitment to climate change action to date.
The Carbon Underground is an umbrella organization responsible for communicating and educating the world. They educate people about the power of healthy soil to combat climate change and to facilitate the transition of enough farms and grasslands globally to restore a healthy climate.
According to the UN, mismanagement of soil has resulted in a loss of as much as 70% of topsoil worldwide. We have as little as sixty years left before the terrestrial foundation for feeding the planet is gone, according to a prediction by the UN. Destroying the soil is also having a massive impact on climate change.
To help solve this issue The Carbon Underground focuses on five key areas: Corporate Impact, Education & Training, Policy, Communications, and Adopt-a-Meter.
“Life is precious. All forms of life have their own intrinsic value. They share our planetary home in an interdependent community. In this, all parts are essential to the functioning of the whole. We have a moral and ethical obligation to preserve life in its integrity. We must also maintain our planet’s health and security for present and future generations.”
GCI was formally launched in Kyoto on 18 April 1993 on the invitation of Mikhail Gorbachev – the former Soviet leader. Today, the Green Cross network operates in more than 30 countries.
Green Cross works to prevent/ resolve conflicts arising from environmental degradation and the growing demand for increasingly scarce natural resources. Its focus is on addressing global water and energy challenges. They also actively support the mitigation of the social, health, and environmental impacts of conflicts, as well as nuclear, chemical, and biological contamination.
Green Cross International enjoys consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council, and United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.
Long-term changes in the Earth’s climate system are already significant and are occurring more rapidly than ever before. Continued emissions will increase the likelihood of severe, pervasive, and irreversible effects on every continent.
Delayed efforts to mitigate either carbon dioxide or climate pollutant emissions will have negative, and potentially irreversible, consequences. Some of them are global warming, rising sea levels, agricultural yields, the health of the ecosystem, and public health. It is time to take urgent action! These 20 global nonprofits are doing their part.
Many other organizations like NGOs, funds and development banks, grassroots movements are supporters in the fight against climate change. This article named a just few.
What connects them all is the only thing that matters: Action. Now.