WASHINGTON D.C. philanthropists Roger and Vicki Sant have named World Wildlife Fund (WWF) as beneficiary of a $20 million charitable remainder trust, the largest single gift the organization has ever received from an individual supporter. This gift was announced Tuesday, May 23 at a World Wildlife Fund dinner at the Residence of the Brazilian Embassy in Washington, D.C.
The trust was designed to support WWF's commitment to safeguarding the Amazon - one of the most biologically diverse areas of the world and a region of particular interest to the Sants. The Sant trust will allow WWF to further its long-term conservation work on projects such as the Amazon Regional Protected Areas (ARPA), the largest and most ambitious tropical conservation project in its history.
"ARPA is an extraordinary and wonderfully ambitious initiative to save the Amazon," said Roger Sant. "In the four years since its creation, 42 million acres have been protected - an area equivalent to the states of New York and New Jersey combined, with enough room left for Delaware. The coalition of the Brazilian government, WWF, the Global Environmental Facility and the World Bank is proving to be very effective and with increased support, I am confident that more of the Amazon can be protected. "
For the past four years, through ARPA, WWF has partnered with the Brazilian Government, the World Bank, the Global Environmental Facility and others to build a system of parks and sustainable reserves in the Amazon, which will ultimately surpass the entire U.S. National Park System in size. The Sant trust will build on the initial successes of ARPA and strengthen WWF's support in places like Tumucumaque Mountains National Park and Chandless State Park - vital ecological jewels rich in rare species. The goal of ARPA is to establish and permanently protect 125 million acres of protected areas - roughly the size of the state of California.
The support from the Sants comes at a crucial time for the Amazon. Successive years of extremely high rates of deforestation in the Amazon rainforest indicate that urgent, sweeping measures are needed to save this area of global importance. Establishing new protected areas that are well-managed is one of the keys to bringing the deforestation under control and providing a viable future for the Amazon and its people. Among the new areas protected by ARPA is the 9.6 million acre Tumucumaque Mountains National Park - the largest tropical forest national park in the world.
"We are so grateful to Roger and Vicki Sant. This gift is a reflection of their overwhelming commitment to the Amazon and confidence in WWF and our work in that region," said Carter S. Roberts, president and CEO of World Wildlife Fund. "This trust, the largest given by any single donor to WWF, is the latest demonstration of the Sant's long-term involvement and commitment to WWF and to ARPA."
This gift reflects the Sant's growing commitment to safeguarding one of the most important and biologically diverse places on the planet. Roger Sant is co-founder and Chairman Emeritus of the AES Corporation, a global power company. In the 80s, AES was among the first in the power industry to voluntarily reduce carbon dioxide emissions from its power plants. Roger Sant served as chairman of World Wildlife Fund from 1994 to 2000, and is currently on the Board of Directors. Vicki Sant is President of the Summit Foundation and a member of WWF's National Council.