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Corporate Volunteers to Fight Climate Change in the Bronx

11.06.2008
Employees of HSBC, the world's largest bank, will abandon their offices for one day to help revitalize a unique green urban space in the Bronx, NY. This effort is part of an employee program on climate change spearheaded by Earthwatch, a major partner in the five-year HSBC Climate Partnership that launched last year.

A quaint community garden in New York—dedicated in part to growing food for the hungry—is about to become a small part of a big $100 million effort to fight climate change around the world.

On June 11 nearly 30 employees from HSBC, the world’s largest bank, will abandon their offices for one day to help revitalize Bissel Gardens, a unique green urban space covering five blocks in the heart of the Bronx. The project is one component of the largest known employee program on climate change spearheaded by Earthwatch—a major partner in the five-year HSBC Climate Partnership that launched last year.

Earthwatch is partnering with New York Cares, New York City’s leading volunteer organization, to develop and manage the volunteer projects at Bissel Gardens, where volunteers will “green up the space” using sustainable gardening methods.

“The motivation to make lasting change starts when the employees get their hands dirty and see up close how climate change affects the natural world,” said David Morse, Corporate Fellowship Manager at Earthwatch. “We are excited to work with a class act like New York Cares to make a difference in a special place like Bissel Gardens and bring even more people together to make a positive change in the world—which is what Earthwatch is all about.”

At the event, volunteers will learn about ways to reduce their carbon footprint, and that of New York City. “We’ve developed projects that will enable HSBC volunteers to enhance the native habitat of Bissel Gardens, now and for the future,” said Jennifer Goldschein, Director of Corporate and Foundation Relations at New York Cares. “We’re delighted that our long-standing relationship with HSBC in New York City includes ongoing projects such as today’s efforts, in partnership with Earthwatch, at Bissel Gardens.”

Bissel Gardens is one of 17 volunteering projects Earthwatch has set up around North America for this summer. Others will take place at the Lower East Side Ecology Center in Manhattan, in Buffalo, Chicago and Vancouver. To date, more than 1000 volunteers have contributed in excess of 2,600 hours of volunteer work to various projects in North America.

“Climate change is the defining issue of our time, and this kind of aggressive engagement program is the only way to make a real difference,” said Edward Wilson, President and CEO of Earthwatch.

Those who participate at Bissel Gardens are eligible to apply to become Climate Champions who spend 12 days at Earthwatch’s new climate center in Maryland—one of five Earthwatch established around the world. At the climate center the employees work side-by-side with scientists doing forest research during the day, learn about climate change in evening sessions, and develop year-long sustainability project they will implement back in the home office.

“As the world’s local bank, HSBC feels very strongly about supporting the communities where we live and work,” said Paul Lawrence, President and CEO of HSBC Bank USA, N.A. “With a significant presence in the five boroughs of New York, including the Bronx, I am proud our employees are helping to revitalize Bissel Gardens.”

By the end of the HSBC Climate Partnership in 2012, 22,000 HSBC employees will have participated in local volunteering projects around the world like the one at Bissel Gardens, and 2,200 employees will have become Climate Champions.

The HSBC Climate Partnership is a US$100 million, five-year partnership funded by HSBC, working with the Climate Group, the Earthwatch Institute, Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute and WWF. Launched in May 2007, the HCP will:

• make some of the world’s great cities—Hong Kong, London, Mumbai, New York and Shanghai—cleaner and greener, which the partners will promote as models for the world;

• create ‘climate champions’ worldwide who will undertake field research and bring back valuable knowledge and experience to their communities;

• conduct the largest ever field experiment on the world’s forests to measure carbon and the effects of climate change; and

• help to protect four of the world’s major rivers—the Amazon, Ganges, Thames, and Yangtze—from the impacts of climate change, benefiting the 450 million people who rely on them.

Earthwatch Institute is the world’s largest environmental volunteer nonprofit organization. Its mission is to engage people worldwide in scientific field research and education to promote the understanding and action necessary for a sustainable environment. Earthwatch was founded in Boston in 1971 and affiliate offices are based in the UK, Australia, and Japan. With approximately 120 projects fielding in more than 55 countries worldwide, Earthwatch focuses its research efforts on climate change, endangered species and resources, marine biology and ocean conservation, and threatened traditional cultures.

About New York Cares
Founded in 1987, New York Cares enables nearly 40,000 New Yorkers each year to serve on hands-on volunteer projects benefiting schools, social service agencies, homeless shelters, and other deserving organizations. Last year, New York Cares volunteers touched the lives of 400,000 New Yorkers in need. HSBC Bank USA, N.A., has been the Presenting Sponsor of New York Cares’ spring volunteer event, Hands On New York Day, for the last two years. For more information about New York Cares, visit www.nycares.org.

Kristen Kusek | newswise
Further information:
http://www.nycares.org
http://www.hsbc.com/committochange
http://www.earthwatch.org

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