Water is at the root of life.
It’s also one of the original transportation routes.
When Carolyn Kindle Betz, Senior Vice President and Executive Director of the Enterprise Holdings Foundation, set out to identify the Foundation’s next global initiative to support, it was the intersection of transportation and life’s most basic need that resulted in Routes & Roots: Enterprise Healthy Rivers Project.
In recognition of World Water Day, Carolyn talks about the importance of protecting fresh water and the impact of partnering with The Nature Conservancy.
In November 2017 the Foundation announced a five-year $30 million donation to The Nature Conservancy, a global nonprofit working to address critical conservation challenges.
The Routes & Roots project is expected to benefit more than 150 million people through long-term water resource protection, restoration and management initiatives around the world, including North America and Europe.
“Depending on where you live, water might not be top of mind as a critical issue to address,” says Carolyn. “But the truth is, water is a finite resource. As the world’s population continues to grow, the demand for water will only increase. The Routes & Roots project allows us to play a role in helping preserve and protect rivers and watersheds around the world.”
The success stories
The Foundation’s donation specifically helps The Nature Conservancy protect and preserve four major rivers and watersheds – an area of land where all the water drains into the same place.
- The Mississippi River offers a migration corridor for 60 percent of North America’s bird species.Pilot projects launched in Illinois, Iowa and Nebraska that enable farmers to adopt best management practices on their lands to reduce runoff of excess nutrients into the river system.
- The Colorado River provides drinking water to more than 36 million people in the U.S.The Nature Conservancy implemented projects in Colorado and Utah to demonstrate how water users can work together to manage water allocation during drought conditions.
- In Europe, rivers in the Western Balkans region support 25 million people through fisheries, trade and energy.The Nature Conservancy engaged key companies, governing bodies and entities to explore solutions for current water challenges.
- The Boreal forest in Canada is home to more than 25 percent of the world’s wetlands, an integral part of Manitoba’s indigenous communities’ livelihood.The Nature Conservancy helped empower three First Nations groups to develop new approaches to natural resource planning. These approaches will increase First Nations’ leadership and authority over natural resources while creating opportunities to meet both rigorous conservation standards and indigenous community needs.
“We’re just over a year into our partnership with The Nature Conservancy, and these early successes are just the beginning of the impact we’ll have,” says Carolyn. “The truth is, we face a mammoth problem when it comes to water resource management, and it will take commitment from others to help solve the problem and drive additional long-lasting solutions.”
Enterprise’s commitment to water issues extends beyond the riverbanks and watersheds.
“Taking the lead on this global issue is incredibly important, and our leadership was a catalyst for additional monetary support from the business world,” says Carolyn. “Other organizations have come to realize this is something that affects us all, and it’s truly a cause we can all rally around.”
At the root of it all is a company whose founder, Jack Taylor, believed in giving back to the communities where employees live and work.
“My grandfather always had big ideas and was truly concerned about this country – and world – that he loved so much,” says Carolyn. “I think he would be proud of what has been accomplished so far.”