Skoll Foundation


Author Archive

David Rothschild’s Trip to Brazil: Seeing Deforestation Solutions Firsthand

June 12, 2013 by

I just returned from Brazil, where I visited partners in the Amazon states of Para and Mato Grosso.  Before I get into the nitty-gritty, let me reflect on the big picture regarding the State of Para in Brazil.  Para is clearly undergoing a dramatic and deep transformation.  Only a few years ago, Para was a place I was afraid to travel to, a place where organized crime ruled and assassins were available for hire almost openly.  It was known as the wild west of the Amazon—more so than any other place in the Amazon (the size of the continental US).  Quite a few environmental or human rights activists had been killed or threatened.  This is where in 2005 Sister Dorothy Stang was murdered in cold blood for standing up for the poor.

Today, more than half of the private lands are registered with the state and monitored, and organized crime has less of a stranglehold.  In place of lawlessness and fear, one feels a real sense of pride emerging alongside a booming economy and increased governance.   Para is not like it was in 2005; Para is not like it was 5 years ago.  Para isn’t even like it was one year ago. read more, Gram Vikas, IDEI, Water for People: World Water Week Highlights

September 5, 2012 by

It has been a pleasure to see so many Skoll Awardees play such important roles front and center at World Water Week. was highlighted numerous times by Pepsi, winner of the Industry Water Award. Pepsi improved its water use efficiency more than 20% per unit of production, leading to conservation of nearly 16 billion liters of water in 2011, and supported organizations that provided clean water to over a million people, mostly through their support of  CEO Gary White, Director of Advocacy Chevenee Reavis and I had a wonderful dinner in Stockholm’s old town and shared lots of great stories and discussions, mostly about innovation and organizational culture and direction. is making strong moves to mainstream innovation throughout their organization. read more


Skoll Foundation at Rio+20: Why We’re There

June 14, 2012 by

Greetings from Rio de Janeiro!

Just like this city, and just like Brazil, the Rio+20 conference has been described with countless superlatives. The biggest UN event ever! The greatest social change event in the history of humanity! But this gathering may have little chance of making the impact the Rio de Janeiro 1992 Earth Summit did. That convening established the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, the Convention on Biological Diversity, and Agenda 21.  UN negotiators know that with no cap on carbon in the US, any UN environmental summit today is hobbled.

So why are we here? read more


Deforestation Meetings in Ecuador

April 6, 2010 by

I was in meetings in late March in Ecuador, some wonderful sessions with the Tällberg and AVINA foundations.   Here are some highlights:

We started with a trip to the Tiputini Biodiversity Station deep in the Yasuni National Park of the Ecuadorian Amazon where we witnessed what is considered the most biodiverse place on earth, a place that is also threatened by a new discovery of a massive oil reserve of thick heavy crude oil (heavy crude is more difficult and environmentally damaging to remove than light crude).  We saw and heard numerous birds, sleeping bats, a capybara, two caimans and fell asleep to the incredibly loud sounds of the forest. I particularly enjoyed climbing up the tower and exploring the canopy rope bridges with a British forest canopy scientist. This is the area of the Amazon that I did my undergrad thesis on, so it was fascinating to return to the region almost 20 years later (gulp!). read more


Talking Deforestation in Washington

March 5, 2010 by

I just returned from Washington DC, where I attended a marathon meeting on Capitol Hill on US government leadership on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) called, “U.S. REDD Appropriations: ‘The Copenhagen Pledge’ Support & Strategy Initiative.”  The 5 hour meeting included representatives from the offices of Senators Leahy and Kerry, Congresswoman Lowey, and Donna Lee of the State Department (AKA the REDD negotiator).  Participants also included top level leaders from the private sector (American Electric Power, Duke Energy, Marriott International, PG&E and others), NGOs (Conservation International, Environmental Defense Fund, NRDC, Woods Hole Research Center, Union of Concerned Scientists, Sierra Club and others), and some funders (Ford / Climate and Land Use Alliance-CLUA, Moore Foundation, Clinton Foundation, and us at Skoll.) read more


Skoll-AVINA Partnership on the Amazon Moves Forward

October 1, 2009 by

I’m new to the Skoll Foundation blog. I’m a senior program officer here at the Foundation.

I just returned from a working meeting in Colombia of many of the organizations in the Amazon Regional Articulation (ARA), supported by the recently launched Skoll-AVINA Amazon partnership. The ARA working sessions ploughed through tough issues, like how to ensure benefits from REDD projects make it to local communities (projects to reduce carbon emissions from forest deforestation and degredation), and identifying indicators that ARA organizations throughout the nine Amazon Basin countries can all agree on and would find useful. The meeting showed how far the ARA network has come, demonstrating strong ties, mutual respect, and commitment. ARA has working groups on Forest Transparency (bringing deforestation monitoring to all Amazon countries), and Climate Change/Environmental Services (currently preparing for participation at the Copenhagen COP, specifically on REDD initiatives). read more


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