The unique community initiative – which rewards local volunteers with cash grants – marks its fourth year in the GCC and its third straight year in the Levant, with the continued support of the Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF).
Jim Benintende, managing director of Ford Middle East, said: “The Ford Grants continue to play a significant role in raising the profile and importance of environmental conservation in our region. Ford Middle East is proud to recognise the many local volunteers across the GCC and Levant countries who are doing such tremendous work to preserve the region’s vast heritage and natural beauty.”
Last year, 13 applicants from all nine GCC and Levant countries received grants ranging from US$1,000 to US$10,000. Ford Motor Company has donated a total of nearly a quarter of a million dollars since the Grants began in the Middle East in 2000.
Since the launch, the GCC/Levant Ford Grants have been recognised and supported by WWF’s UAE chapter, which has helped to spotlight the hard work of dedicated environmentalists and conservationists across the region.
WWF recently made its official entry into the region following the launch of its conservation office in the UAE, where it runs bio-diversity conservation projects. Ford Middle East is a founding member of WWF’s Corporate Club in the UAE.
Criteria for applying for Ford Grants are unchanged. The programme is open to small-scale, non-profit-making groups and individuals in the GCC and Levant that are implementing ongoing projects related to the natural environment, environmental education, conservation engineering, or the preservation of historical and cultural heritage.
Previous Ford Grants recipients in the region include whale and dolphin researchers in Oman, turtle conservationists in Kuwait, botanical researchers in Lebanon and Saudi Arabia, and educational campaigners in the UAE.
“The Ford Grants represent a pioneer project in the Middle East as little coordinated work to protect and sustain the environment takes place in the region outside the public sector,” said Andy Acho, worldwide director of Ford Motor Company’s Environmental Outreach and Strategy Office.
“Cash donations, rather than the more usual gifts in kind, allow volunteer groups to allocate resources as they choose and where they’re most needed,” Acho added.
“Successful environmental and conservation awareness is all about sustainability. The fact that many volunteer groups have received grants from Ford more than once shows that our message is getting across.”
Besides creating a major regional impact, the Ford Grants in the GCC and Levant have received global acclaim. The World Travel Market awarded the initiative its Environmental Recognition Award during the World Travel Market exhibition in London in 2002.
To apply for funding from the Ford Grants this year, participants are invited to visit the purpose-built website www.ford-environmentalgrants.com and download an application form (available in English and Arabic).
As in previous years, an independent judging panel, made up of government environmental specialists and academics, will choose the recipients. The deadline for entries is September 4, 2003.
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