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“Funding: The great challenge for Environmental NGOs in Chile”

Santiago, October 13, 2016. There are more than 300 conservation NGOs and foundations operating today in Chile. Their efforts have not been adequately recognized by the government or the productive sector. Due to the growing interest in and need for environmental conservation initiatives, it is essential to take account of the tools these groups can utilize to do their important work.

Conservation groups play a key role in preserving the habitat of humanity. Up until now, they have only been able to operate with limited resources and a heavy reliance on volunteers.

On Thursday, October 6, the Second Gathering of Acción Conservación took place in Santiago, bringing together different actors and organizations working on conservation projects. The aim of this meeting was to inform and discuss the common challenges faced by conservation groups.

GOVERNMENT FUNDING FOR CONSERVATION

The National Coordinator for Chile’s Environmental Protection Fund (FPA), Pablo Moreno Orb, addressed the news about changes to the FPA, highlighting the increase of one of the grant options to $30 million CHP ($45,000 USD) for grants executed over a two-year period. Among the highlights, Moreno stressed that the FPA “is the first and only grantmaking fund for environmental causes our country oversees.” These resources clearly seem insufficient to support biodiversity conservation and natural heritage, considering the high demand by communities and civil society in general throughout the country.

Regarding the allocation of resources, the FPA’s National Coordinator explained the lines under which this fund works and the type of organizations it targets. “Any nonprofit entity that doesn’t receive ongoing support from the State can apply, and there are four types of grants: Local Environmental Management, Sustainable Projects, Grants for Environmental Indigenous Protection and Management, and School Recycling. These grants award amounts ranging from four to 30 million pesos ($6k-$45k).”

PRIVATE COMMITMENTS TO THE ENVIRONMENT

Considering resources available through the FPA, a few related programs of the Ministry of Housing and others from Chile’s indigenous ministry (CONADI), funding for environmental organizations in Chile is not enough. Private commitments to the conservation of our environment are therefore vital when it comes to allocating resources to projects for this purpose.

In this context, Rafael Olavarria, director of Marketing for Patagonia Chile, spoke about the company’s Environmental Grants Program, which since 1985 has donated 1% of its sales to support groups working at the forefront of environmental protection. To date they have funded more than 15 environmental organizations in Chile, delivering a total of $150,000 to organizations whose purpose is environmental protection. “We look for organizations focusing on advocacy and addressing the root of the problem,” Olavarria said at the event.

The event also showcased the work of Chilean NGO Reforestamos Patagonia as a successful case of private sector fundraisingCristobal Rebolledo, Commercial Director for Reforestemos Patagonia, talked about how they are accessing resources through marketing and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). The financial model he unveiled highlights actions the organization has taken to generate income, ranging from partnering with companies and proposing marketing strategies to working with “familiar faces” when disseminating their work.

MOVING TOWARDS A UNIFIED DONATIONS LAW

Within the legal sector, a pending task is creating a framework to increase incentives for private contributions destined for conservation. Chilean attorney Roberto Peralta was responsible for providing the context and describing the challenges of the draft Unified Donations Law, which was submitted to Congress in 2014 but has not seen progress in advancing.

This bill aims to resolve the variations and complexity of regulations that provide tax benefits for public purposes, which today are discriminatory and unjustifiably exclude fundamental issues like environment and health. “This bill has broad support across all political sectors, but it needs the government to grant it the political priority it deserves,” said Peralta.

THE EVENT

With a turnout of 70 people representing 45 organizations, the panel of experts discussed current challenges and the tools available to groups overseeing environmental conservation projects.

“We’re optimistic, because each day there are more and more of us working for environmental conservation and pushing for concrete changes in Chile. We all see the need to share best practices and meet each other,” says Juan Carlos Pacheco, co-organizer. In this manner the Second Gathering of Acción Conservación proposed various interesting recommendations that are fundamental today, not just for organizations related to conservation of the environment but also society as a whole, which understands how the ecological crisis requires concrete action.

More information: Organizers: MVMT, AccesoPanam, Futaleufu Riverkeeper, AreasPro, and Patagonia. Supporters: Centro de Creación y Comunidad Infante 1415 & Revista Endémico. Web: www.facebook.com/accionconservacion

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Endesa Chile Renounces Rights to Develop Hydropower Dam in Patagonia; Chilean Non-profit Applies to Obtain Water Rights for Conservation Purposes

Puerto Montt, Chile, Mon., September 5, 2016 –– Endesa Chile, a multinational energy company with US $4.2 billion in 2015 revenues, relinquished rights last week to develop large hydroelectricity projects on the Futaleufu River in Chile’s Patagonia region. According to a press release issued by the company, the decision was made at a board meeting of Endesa’s Board of Directors. Prior to renouncing the rights, the company unsuccessfully spent six months trying to find a buyer for the water rights, which under Chile’s water code can be bought and sold like other private goods.

Futaleufu Riverkeeper, a Chilean nonprofit and a member of the global Waterkeeper Alliance, went to the Notary Public of Chaiten on Friday to verify the water rights to the Futaleufu were renounced. Following this confirmation, Futaleufu Riverkeeper’s team met with the Governor of the Province, Carlos Javier Salas Castro, to indicate the nonprofit’s goal of obtaining the water rights for conservation purposes until a more permanent solution is developed. Following this meeting, Futaleufu Riverkeeper submitted a request to obtain the water rights. This is an unprecedented move for a river of such importance.

Read the full Press Release here.

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New Executive Director and Riverkeeper

FUTALEUFU, Los Lagos Region, Chile, March 8th, 2016 – Futaleufu Riverkeeper, the first Waterkeeper program in Patagonia, has appointed Rocio de Pilar Gonzalez Saldivia as its new Executive Director and Riverkeeper. The organization, based in the Patagonian village of Futaleufu, is responsible for organizing the local, national and international campaigns to protect the Futaleufú River, one of the most emblematic waterways in South America.

Rocio -or “Chio”- as she is known by friends – is a native of the Los Lagos Region who has lived in the Futaleufu watershed since 2013. Before moving to Futaleufu, Chio worked for seven years as a government official in Puerto Montt. During her tenure she supervised over a hundred international volunteers. She first began working with Futaleufu Riverkeeper in 2014, most recently serving as Project Director where she supervised local zoning efforts and organized community events.

Read the full Press Release here.

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Committee on Climate Change labels government plans for climate action insufficient.

Santiago, Chile – A new study has been launched by the Chilean Citizens’ Committee on Climate Change showing that by switching to 100% renewable energy by 2050 the country could: avoid spending $5.3 billion a year on fossil fuels, save 1,500 lives a year due to reduced air-pollution in Santiago alone, and create 11,000 green jobs.

This study conducted by the NewClimate Institute is one of a series of reports demonstrating the significant benefits to Chile and other countries – including the U.S., China, Japan, Australia, and the European Union – if they get on track to achieve 100% renewable energy by 2050.

The reports assess the benefits delivered in terms of lives and money saved, and jobs created by their proposed climate action commitments – also known as INDCS – and what more they stand to gain if they boosted their efforts in line with a fossil fuel phase out.

To Click here to download a PDF of the full press release and access report methodology.

sep Yale’s Environmental Protection Clinic Sends Investigators to Chile

SANTIAGO, Chile, 01/27/2015 – To support Futaleufú Riverkeeper and other organizations working for a cleaner energy future, investigators from Yale Law School’s Environmental Protection Clinic flew to Chile this month to present studies on new ways for promoting non-conventional renewable energies. The investigators, who are completing post-graduate degrees at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, spent three weeks in Chile meeting with government officials, private sector leaders, NGOs, and local stakeholders in the Futaleufú valley, located in the Los Lagos region in northern Patagonia. In Santiago, they presented their findings to officials at the National Energy Commission and the Ministries of Energy, Interior, Foreign Relations, and Agriculture. The visit also coincided with the annual dinner for the Chilean Association of Renewable Energy (ACERA), during which ACERA’s director Carlos Finat thanked the researchers for helping to promote non-conventional renewable energies.

Futaleufú Riverkeeper’s International Director, American attorney Patrick J. Lynch, spoke about the benefits of the research provided by the investigators from Yale University, one of the world’s premier research institutions. “Having Yale researchers come to Chile is a big step for showing how we do not need large dams in the country.”

Click here to download the PDF. In the Press!

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Chilean financial press reports cancellation of second-largest hydro project in Chile, citing Futaleufú Riverkeeper and local opposition as reasons

SANTIAGO, Chile, 10/23/2014 –Chile’s financial press is reporting that Endesa, a multinational company which currently owns the water rights to the Futaleufú River and had planned to build three large dams, has removed the project from its energy portfolio. However, Endesa continues to own the water rights to the Futaleufú and several other rivers in Chile, and fears remain among environmental advocates that the project will be restarted or sold to another energy company unless the river is permanently protected.

Click here to download the PDF. In the Press!

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Mining, Dams, Other Threats to Unprotected Futaleufu River Revealed in Patagon Journal Magazine

SANTIAGO, 08/21/2013 – The latest edition of the bilingual magazine Patagon Journal exposes several threats to the Futaleufú River, a globally-renowned river located in Chile’s Palena province, including a controversial hydroelectric dam project by multinational company Endesa. The issue also includes an exclusive interview with American attorney Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., president of the Waterkeeper Alliance, an international organization with more than 200 affiliates worldwide and a key backer of one of Chile’s newest environmental organizations, Fundación Futaleufú Riverkeeper.

Click here to download the PDF. In the Press!

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