Ford Motor Company’s Conservation and Environmental Grants, the longest-running private initiative of its kind in the region,is making use of the popular social media channel Facebook to launch the 2013 edition, where applicants are welcome to apply through a special application. Once again, a total of USD100,000 are available todeserving environmentalprojectsfrom the GCC, Levant and Iraq that are working towards raising awareness about the environment and much needed efforts for conservation.
In its 14th edition and with the continued supportof UNESCO’s Doha office, the 2013 Ford Grants programme is now open and is receiving applications from not-for-profit on-going environmental projects that are seekingadditional funding. Applicationsmay be submitted via Ford Middle East’s Facebook page  with the deadline of submission set for July01, 2013.
Projects from Bahrain, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates can apply.
An independentpanel of jurors consisting of nine experts and academics from environmental agencies and institutions will choose the winning projects. The jury panel, carefully selected in cooperation with UNESCO Dohabased on geographical coverage, experience and gender equality, will look for initiatives that demonstrate a well-defined sense of purpose, a commitment to maximising available resources, and a reputation for meeting objectives and delivering planned programmes and services.
Larry Prein, Ford Middle East's managing director, said: “Contributing to a better world is one of the main pillars of Ford Motor Company, and we not only do this by delivering some of the best technologies and industry leading fuel economy across the range of our products, but also through community initiatives such as the Conservation & Environmental Grants. We recognise the importance of social media in our region and as such, deem it best to reach out to the region’s communities and avid environmental ambassadors through our Facebook page.”
Dr Benno Boer, UNESCO's Ecological Sciences Advisor in the Arab Region, said: “The Rio+20 conference on sustainable development, which took place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil last year was the biggest UN conference ever and a major step forward in achieving a sustainable future – the future we want. The event underscored that active participation of the public and private sector, and broad individual participation is essential to achieve sustainable development. Heads of States renewed their commitments to sustainable development, and acknowledged that green economy in the context of sustainable development will enhance our ability to manage natural resources sustainably and with lower negative environmental impacts, increase resource efficiency and reduce waste.
“UNESCO’s World Network of Biosphere Reserves is an important tool to achieve sustainable development. They are models for the reconciliation of sustainable development and nature conservation. There are 610 Biosphere Reserves in 117 countries, functioning as learning sites for the United Nations Decade on Education for Sustainable Development. The eligible countries of the GCC/Levant Ford Grants are under-represented with only one biosphere reserve in the United Arab Emirates, one in Qatar, two in Jordan, three in Lebanon, and none in Bahrain, Iraq, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. UNESCO encourages its Member States and citizens and the private sector for more active participation,” Boer added.
“There are many environmental projects that need support in this region and we are happy to partner with the Ford Motor Company Conservation and Environmental Grants. Together, we hope to honor and recognise deserving projects that need additional funding in order to carry on with their work as well as create an opportunity for future winners to meet other environmentalists. We encourage participants to try and connect their projects geographically, technically and/or intellectually with the establishment and management of biosphere reserves,” Boer concluded.
The winners for 2012 included projects such as a comprehensive assessment of sharks in the UAE and the Arabian Gulf,the creation of a mobile app where guidelines and tips for energy-saving could be downloaded, initiatives that engaged local communities to become educators of natural conservation, plantation of oak saplings by schoolchildren, as well as identifying and preserving the key biodiversity areas of Iraq.
The Ford Grants are part of the company’s efforts to support grass-roots level initiatives that protect and preserve the environment and natural resources in the GCC and Levant countries, and have awarded a total of US$1.3 million to more than 150 projects since the programme’s inception in 2000.
Individuals, community and non-profit groups that have projects currently running in the areas of preservation of the natural environment, environmental education and conservation engineering can apply.
The GCC and Levant Chapter of the Ford Motor Company Conservation & Environmental Grants has seen support from various governmental and non-governmental environmental authorities including the World Wide Fund for Nature, the Emirates Wildlife Society, the Arab Forum for Environment & Development (AFED) and UNESCO Doha.