EY- Earthwatch Ambassadors Surpass 10,000 Hours Donated to Small Businesses in Latin America and Environmental Research

New York, 24 July 2014

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This year’s expeditions contributed to the health of local ecosystems by focusing on the wetlands in Mexico and rainforests in Brazil and assisted local entrepreneurs.

The EY-Earthwatch Ambassadors Program, a collaboration between EY and Earthwatch Institute, an organization that engages people worldwide in scientific climate change research, this year hit a cumulative 10,500 hours conducting field research and leveraging business skills to assist local businesses in Latin America. Ambassadors from across the US, Canada, Israel, Mexico, Central and South America participated in week-long skills-based volunteer expeditions where they supported small businesses in Latin America and conducted environmental field research.

More than 135 employees from EY member firms have participated as EY-Earthwatch Ambassadors since the program launched in 2009 with only 11 volunteers. This year’s 30 EY-Earthwatch Ambassadors recently returned from expeditions in Brazil and Mexico where they collected data on endemic species and water quality, supported local farmers with sustainable agricultural methods, or mapped biodiversity in the Atlantic Forest, to name a few projects this year.

“The EY-Earthwatch Ambassador program is distinctive in that it affords more-junior employees the opportunity to work with colleagues from every region in the Americas,” said Deborah K. Holmes, EY Americas Director of Corporate Responsibility. “As part of EY’s commitment to building a better working world, we’re focused on cultivating a culture of high-performance teaming and offering our people experiences that develop them as leaders.”

The Ambassadors’ expanded global network doesn’t end when they return to EY. Participants continue to incorporate sustainability into their daily behaviors and careers, and use the experience a starting point for connecting with colleagues, recruits or clients, or becoming involved with EY’s Climate Change and Sustainability Services (CCaSS) work. EY-Earthwatch Ambassadors are often active in the communities where they live, volunteering with local nonprofit organizations.

“Being an EY-Earthwatch Ambassador has been the most rewarding opportunity of my career to date,” said Daniel Burke, a Fraud Investigation and Dispute Services staff at Ernst & Young LLP in Boston who traveled to Brazil this year. “I found the opportunity to collaborate with professionals from various backgrounds and expertise across EY on sustainability initiatives extremely valuable. I also found the expedition raised my awareness about environmental sustainability challenges, and I’m empowered with the knowledge and tools to make an impact with my peers and my local community.”

2014 Expedition Highlights

For the first time in the program’s history, EY-Earthwatch Ambassadors visited Mexico, where they assisted Earthwatch scientists by collecting data on the presence of endemic species and water quality in the Xochimilco wetlands, outside of Mexico City. The findings will be used to increase local and governmental awareness of the benefits of sustainable agricultural practices and subsequently, to improve the health of the region’s ecosystem. The team also supported local farmers in assessing the viability of sustainable farming methods and associated costs, production and sales figures. Additionally, the team reviewed quantitative data and conducted interviews of local farmers to supplement the current research.

Returning to Brazil for a fourth year, participants worked with Earthwatch scientists to collect data on trees and assessed the richness, abundance and density of birds and nocturnal animals in the rainforest. The Ambassadors’ data will help Earthwatch scientists map biodiversity and various ecosystem services in the Atlantic Forest. New this year, the Ambassadors worked closely with a farm that produces cachaça (Brazilian rum) to increase their brand and ecotourism, and they reviewed the related investment costs.

“Earthwatch scientists are investigating critical environmental issues, and the EY-Earthwatch Ambassadors’ field research supports our mission to promote action for a sustainable environment,” says Larry Mason, President and CEO of the Earthwatch Institute. “These expeditions benefit not just the environment -- our scientists receive valuable assistance, local entrepreneurs gain access to EY’s skilled business professionals, and EY develops its employees’ leadership, global mindset and understanding of environmental sustainability.”

Selection into the program is very competitive and is based on job performance as well as interest in the environment and community engagement. To learn more about EY's Earthwatch expeditions and view a video recap of a past expedition, go to: http://www.ey.com/US/en/About-us/Corporate-Responsibility/Corporate-responsibility---Our-environmental-impact.

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This news release has been issued by Ernst & Young LLP, a member firm of EY serving clients in the US.

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