Conservation International (CI) and McDonald’s Europe have launched a program that will help protect some of the world’s most threatened species and the tropical forests where they make their home.
The program builds on the 20-year partnership between the two organizations to create positive environmental solutions for our planet.
The expanded partnership includes a public awareness campaign across Europe through a new Happy Meal focused on endangered animals to engage children around protecting our environment. McDonald’s Europe will also make a 1 million euro contribution to CI’s Global Conservation Fund (GCF) to protect crucial forest habitats.
“According to research from Just Kids Inc’s ‘Global Kid Study,’ endangered animals are amongst the top eight causes concerning children today, along with the rainforest,” said Joanne Carter, Senior Director, Family Marketing, McDonald’s Europe. “By creating this Happy Meal program, we want to engage children in a fun and informative way around opportunities to protect our environment and help to inspire the next generation of environmentalists.”
The contribution also will help secure long-term protection of three critically important tropical forest areas that are vital for the survival of Asian elephants, gorillas and tigers, as well as hundreds of other plants and animals.
These sites include a tropical paradise in Cambodia that is the largest, most pristine wilderness in mainland Southeast Asia, a corridor of biologically rich national parks and community reserves in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and a rainforest on the Indonesia island of Sumatra that shelters as many as 20 tigers out of a world population of no more than 300.
Animals, plants and people benefit from the protection of these areas. In addition to providing habitat for plants and animals, tropical forests remove and store carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, helping to combat global climate change. When destroyed, however, they release and emit the carbon they have stored, as well as carbon from the soil below them, contributing to climate change.
GCF has already committed $3.5 million to the three areas to support creation of new national and community protected areas and for the activities needed to safeguard them.
To date, GCF has enabled CI regional programs and more than 40 partners to help protect 38 million hectares of the world’s biologically richest land and seascapes. McDonald’s new contribution will enable GCF to expand its $6.65 million in additional support planned to enable long-term financing for the three critical areas.
In addition to funding long-term habitat protection, McDonald’s will introduce Endangered Animals Happy Meals in European markets. The meal packaging will focus on eight endangered species – black rhino, tigers, Asian elephants, snow leopards, leatherback turtles, giant pandas, polar bears and gorillas. Each of the boxes features CI’s logo and points kids to a specially designed website with additional games and information about all eight animals to encourage them to take steps to help threatened species and combat global warming.
The Happy Meals will be rolled out in European markets this fall, except in the UK and France, where they will become available in 2009.