As 2020 comes to an end with optimism for a vaccine and a return to normal on the horizon, we wanted to take a moment to reflect on the year that was. Like most of you, we did not have global pandemic in our contingency plan when we met in January to map out the year ahead, but that did not impede our enthusiasm for restoring our coasts.
As plans for in person events and project tours quickly turned into video conferences, we were left wondering what a successful year looked like in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Looking back, we’re proud to say that we were able to overcome many of the challenges presented and even create some new ways to carry out our mission. We’re thankful to those of you that joined us in learning, adapting, and persevering to make this year one of our most successful yet.
RAE Hosts Our Largest National Summit Ever: Moving to a virtual platform was no small task, but thanks to the more than 1,400 people, 50+ sponsors, and 500 presenters helped make the transition a success. In addition to record registration numbers, we were also able to offer scholarships to 150 students and early career professionals to attend this year’s Summit at a reduced or no cost. Keep an eye on our YouTube channel where you’ll see select content from this year’s Summit appear starting January 1, 2021.
Increasing Coastal Resiliency: RAE is happy to announce that by year’s end, with the help of our partners, we’ll have granted more than $1.5 million to organizations, municipalities, and agencies across the country to facilitate and implement natural solutions to restore critical habitat and protect our most vulnerable coastal communities.
Combatting Climate Change via Blue Carbon: Although not a new concept, blue carbon is at the forefront of our fight to combat the climate crisis. In November, RAE teamed up with VERRA and Silvestrum Climate Associates to release the first blue carbon conservation methodology approved under any major greenhouse gas program. You can watch the official launch of this methodology here!
Looking Ahead to 2021
Enhancing Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Justice in the Coastal Sector: RAE recently hosted two workshops on “Enhancing Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) in the Coastal Sector.” In 2021 we intend to build upon these efforts both through continued engagement and by looking inward at how we can advance these efforts through our own work and the administration of our grants programs.
Building Congressional Support for Coastal Resiliency: In 2021 we will work with the new administration to emphasize the importance of healthy, intact estuaries and their importance to coastal communities. RAE will highlight the vital role estuaries play in storm mitigation, the importance of nature-based solutions, the economic and cultural value of estuaries, and the benefits provided by blue carbon.
We understand that many people are hurting, both financially and emotionally, from the ongoing health crisis. In the midst of the pandemic, 2020 also saw record number of hurricanes bear down on our coastal communities and devastating wildfires across the western United States – a trend that is apt to accelerate unless we seriously implement climate solutions.
As we look ahead to 2021, we are optimistic about hearing fresh voices and working with new leaders in Washington, D.C. and a renewed emphasis on climate change and environmental protection at the federal level.
Our vision for safe, healthy, and accessible estuaries for all is closer than ever, but we must double down on our commitments to ensure diversity, equity, and inclusion are at the forefront of our efforts.
If you’d like to help us support this work, we encourage you to consider RAE in your year-end giving plans. You can make your tax-deductible gift today by clicking the link below. Have a safe and happy holiday season and we can’t wait to celebrate with you all in 2021.
President and CEO
Restore America’s Estuaries