International conservation initiatives are estimated to face a funding shortfall of $1 billion dollars a week or more (exact statistics are difficult to come by). That sounds like a lot of money and it is unlikely that donations alone will ever fill that gap – there are so many charities and so many causes asking for donations, people do not have enough money to give to all of them.
However, hope is not lost if we can start to move away from relying on charity donations and instead develop ethical businesses and products that can protect wildlife.
Take coffee, for example. In the UK alone, an estimated 95 million cups are sold each day, that’s almost 35 billion a year, and that’s not including the cups of tea Britons are well known for loving.
What if that some of that coffee could help protect wildlife? It could have a profound positive impact on filling the funding gap.
For example, if the viewers of Planet Earth II bought just one £2 cup of coffee a week that helped protect wildlife, they would spend more than £1 billion per year.
There are two ways in which the coffee could help protect wildlife; 1) by donating a share of revenue to conservation; and 2) by growing the coffee near wildlife reserves to create a buffer zone to prevent human-wildlife conflict and provide jobs to stop people being forced to poach, a bit like a Wildlife version of the Fairtrade scheme.
Charities do phenomenal work to protect wildlife but given the challenges they continue to face, the more diverse methods we can find to raise vital funds to protect wildlife, the better. And the easier we can make it for those of us who love wildlife to donate to protect animals, not just through handing cash over but through shifting our purchases to products that protect wildlife, the better the world will be.
We’re trying to do just that with our Conservation Crisis board game and app, creating an ethical business solution to help charities fundraise as well as providing a fun way for people to learn more about conservation, and there are a growing number of businesses with a similar mission.
That all bodes well for wildlife and for the world; how great will it be when we get to a situation where everything we buy helps make the world a better place…