Friends of World Heritage Fund to support communities devastated by storm; Riviera Maya resort Paraiso de la Bonita kicks off appeal with $11,000 donation
Washington, D.C. (September 7, 2007) - The United Nations Foundation (UN Foundation) today launched an emergency fundraising appeal for $100,000 to support the recovery effort for communities in and around the Sian Ka'an Biosphere reserve, a UNESCO World Heritage site. The reserve's infrastructure and delicate ecosystem were severely damaged by Hurricane Dean, a category 5 storm that devastated the area in August 2007. Paraiso de la Bonita, a Rivera Maya resort and member of the World Heritage Alliance for Sustainable Tourism, announced a $11,000 donation to the appeal to help reestablish businesses in dozens of communities in the area that earn their livelihoods through the sustainable cultivation of their natural environment.
"The predominantly indigenous communities in the area were the hardest hit by Hurricane Dean. It destroyed their crops, their fisheries, their factories - everything they need to support their communities," said Erika Harms, Executive Director of Sustainable Development at the UN Foundation. "We are working with them to quickly rebuild their businesses before the start of the busiest tourist season in the region."
Contributions from individuals will also be matched by both Expedia, Inc. and the UN Foundation, up to a total contribution of $50,000 from each organization, making every dollar donated three times as effective. Donations can be made at https://www.unfoundation.org/donate/fowh2/donate.asp. During the Hurricane Dean appeal, 100% of funds raised through the Friends of World Heritage fund will go directly to these affected communities.
Since 1999, the founding partners of Friends of World Heritage - UNESCO, the UN Foundation, and Expedia, Inc. (NASDAQ: EXPE) - together with other partners, have supported sustainable development projects in and around this natural World Heritage site, where families of 5 live on as little as $700 per year. The project has enabled local communities - overwhelmingly Mayan indigenous peoples - to sell environmentally-friendly tours and sustainable, locally-produced food and other products to travelers, hotels and others in the region. These products provide lifesaving income for local communities, and preserve their delicate natural environment.
Among the projects the Hurricane Dean appeal will support are:
- Food for families. Food crops were destroyed by the hurricane, threatening the food supply for over 2,050 families. Five kilograms (11 pounds) of beans and a packet of seeds can help sustain a family while it grows new crops. A $50 gift feeds three families.
- Ingredients to rebuild organically-harvested honey farms. For the nearly 500 families in the area that earn their living through sales of organic honey, the storm's damage means a critical loss of income. A $30 donation sends 20 kilos (42 pounds) of sugar and 10 kilos (22 pounds) of organic honey to help beekeepers rebuild their organically-harvested honey farms.
- Shades for sustainable lobster harvesting. Lobster shades are lobster traps that help protect Sian Ka'an's delicate coral reefs. These shades support sustainable fisheries practices, and enable 92 fishermen in the reserve area to support their families. A $15 gift will help replace one lobster shade.
Note to the editor: For more information about the Sian Ka'an Biosphere reserve, visit the websites of the UNESCO World Heritage Centre or Friends of World Heritage.
The UN Foundation will provide photos and audio podcasts from Sian Ka'an to document how the Hurricane Dean appeal funds raised are being used to help the communities in and around Sian Ka'an to rebuild.
About Friends of World Heritage
Friends of World Heritage is a grassroots initiative dedicated to raising awareness about the importance of protecting World Heritage, promoting sustainable development, offering ways to explore these sites through sustainable travel, and raising funds to support projects in communities that depend on World Heritage sites. Friends of World Heritage was created by the United Nations Foundation and its partners are: Expedia, Inc. (NASDAQ: EXPE) and UNESCO's World Heritage Centre. www.FriendsofWorldHeritage.org.
About World Heritage
World Heritage sites are places around the world that have been internationally recognized for their outstanding value as natural and cultural treasures. All World Heritage sites are protected by the 1972 UNESCO World Heritage Convention, signed to date by 184 countries and administered by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). There are currently 851 World Heritage sites (660 cultural, 166 natural and 25 mixed properties). For a complete list of sites, visit http://whc.unesco.org/.
About the United Nations Foundation
The UN Foundation was created in 1998 with entrepreneur and philanthropist Ted Turner's historic $1 billion gift to support UN causes and activities. The UN Foundation builds and implements public-private partnerships to address the world's most pressing problems and also works to broaden support for the UN through advocacy and public outreach. The UN Foundation is a public charity. www.unfoundation.org.
United Nations Foundation
Tel: (+1) 202.887.9040