Rio Tinto is a world leader in finding, mining and processing mineral resources.
Earthwatch and Rio Tinto recognised the potential for joint action on biodiversity conservation and management 20 years ago. This culminated in Rio Tinto becoming a founding member of the Earthwatch Corporate Environmental Responsibility Group (CERG) in 1990 and nine years later a global partnership was formalised.
To date, the focus of the Earthwatch-Rio Tinto partnership has been on increasing Earthwatch's scientific field research capacity, and designing and implementing Rio Tinto's Biodiversity Strategy. Both parties have also sought to use the partnership and its achievements to inspire others to engage in partnership action to advance biodiversity conservation worldwide.
For 20 years Earthwatch and Rio Tinto have worked together on partnership initiatives that have positively impacted communities and biodiversity conservation worldwide. The partnership has improved the effectiveness of Rio Tinto's biodiversity strategy and contributed to the development and support of Earthwatch research and education programmes worldwide.
Some of the key outcomes from this collaboration have included:
- working with other Rio Tinto partners on the ongoing design and development of the Rio Tinto Biodiversity Strategy and on the tools and processes for its implementation;
- further developing thinking around how quantitative measures of biodiversity conservation performance can be used to assess progress;
- promoting awareness and knowledge of biodiversity through active participation in ongoing field research programmes; and
- demonstrating the ability of how business and civil society can work together as a way of promoting knowledge and awareness of biodiversity conservation and management.
During 2009 and 2010, Rio Tinto and Earthwatch collaborated on two key projects that supported the Earthwatch mission and acted as building blocks for its longer term sustainability. The first of these two projects was ClimateWatch, an Australian citizen-science programme providing opportunities for the general public to get hands-on involvement in the science of understanding climate change. By supporting the development of ClimateWatch, Rio Tinto enabled additional funding to be secured and ensured its long term viability. The second was the Samburu Community Climate Change Mapping Programme at the Earthwatch Regional Research Centre in Kenya. This project developed a comprehensive land use and climate change model for the area with input from the local community.
Rio Tinto also supports the Earthwatch SustainaBall, with both parties continuing to explore the future direction of the partnership.