BEIJING (July 19, 2012)—The National Geographic Society concluded its inaugural grant meeting for its Air and Water Conservation Fund in Beijing yesterday evening. The fund’s advisory board, composed of renowned Chinese scientists and conservationists from a broad spectrum of disciplines, deliberated on the final 12 applications selected from dozens received since the April 26, 2012, launch of the fund. Recipients of the grants will be announced later this summer, once grant applicants have been formally notified.
Grant applications were received from a wide range of sectors, including universities, scientific research centers, environmental NGOs and an environmental film studio. The projects ranged from local river protection to air quality monitoring. The applications included both grassroots conservation efforts and research projects, reflecting the fund’s core focus on air and water issues in China.
The meeting was chaired by John Francis, National Geographic’s vice president for Research, Conservation and Exploration. The Air and Water Conservation Fund is part of National Geographic’s recently launched Global Exploration Fund, an initiative designed to increase funding opportunities around the world, including Asia. This meeting was the first of two scheduled for this year. The next grant meeting will take place in September.
“The inaugural meeting was an excellent beginning for the Air and Water Conservation Fund,” said Terry Garcia, executive vice president for Mission Programs at National Geographic. “The grant applications that were reviewed are exactly the kind of cutting-edge projects with practical applications for China’s future that we want to fund.”
“I have worked for 27 years on air and water conservation issues, and I’m impressed with the breadth and quality of the applications we received this round,” said Wen Bo, program director of the Air and Water Conservation Fund. “This first round of applications represented a wide variety of projects, and we look forward to receiving even more applications from qualified researchers and conservationists throughout China.”
With support from founding partner Alibaba Group, a global e-commerce leader and the largest e-commerce company in China, the Air and Water Conservation Fund is designed to challenge and bring forward the best and most creative scientific and conservation talent in the country and encourage their efforts to solve problems confronting China’s water and air resources. Grants ranging from $20,000 to $50,000 will be given to on-the-ground projects at the cutting edge of research, technology and conservation, including those that investigate risky or unproven approaches. The fund, which accepts applications on a rolling basis, is open to resident citizens of mainland China doing work in the country.
Creation of this fund is consistent with Alibaba Group’s environmental conservation strategy of focusing on clean water and improving air quality. The company’s decision to support this new fund was also centered on helping build scientific and environmental capabilities within China to positively impact the lives of billions of people in the region.
Since 1890, the National Geographic has provided grants to every corner of the world. By late 2011, the total number of National Geographic grants reached 10,000, representing a combined value of $153 million. Past and current grantees include polar explorer Robert Peary; Hiram Bingham, excavator of the lost Inca city of Machu Picchu; anthropologists Louis and Mary Leakey; primatologist Jane Goodall; Robert Ballard, underwater explorer and discoverer of the sunken Titanic; anthropologist Wade Davis; marine biologist Sylvia Earle; high-altitude archaeologist Johan Reinhard; and Chinese paleontologist Xu Xing, who has advanced understanding of the origin of bird flight.
Additional information about the new Air and Water Conservation Fund and how to apply for a grant is available at www.nationalgeographic.com/GEF/China.
Information about the Global Exploration Fund initiative can be found at
About the National Geographic Society
The National Geographic Society is one of the world’s largest nonprofit scientific and educational organizations. Founded in 1888 to “increase and diffuse geographic knowledge,” the Society works to inspire people to care about the planet. It reaches more than 400 million people worldwide each month through its official journal, National Geographic, and other magazines; National Geographic Channel; television documentaries; music; radio; films; books; DVDs; maps; exhibitions; live events; school publishing programs; interactive media; and merchandise. National Geographic has funded 10,000 scientific research, conservation and exploration projects and supports an education program promoting geographic literacy.
About Alibaba Group
Alibaba Group is a global e-commerce leader and the largest e-commerce company in China. Since it was founded in 1999, Alibaba Group has grown to include the following core businesses: Alibaba.com (HKSE: 1688; 1688.HK), Alibaba Group’s flagship company and the world’s leading B2B e-commerce company; Taobao Marketplace, China’s primary C2C online shopping destination; Tmall.com, China’s leading B2C online marketplace for quality, brand name goods; eTao, China’s most comprehensive shopping search engine; Juhuasuan, China’s most comprehensive group shopping platform; Alibaba Cloud Computing, a developer of advanced data-centric cloud computing services; and China Yahoo!, one of China’s leading Internet portals. Alipay, China’s largest third-party online payment service, is an affiliate of Alibaba Group.