Richard Mott, Wallace Global Fund

TITLE: Senior Program Officer for the Environment

FUNDING AREAS: Environmental resource depletion, climate change, biodiversity

CONTACT: rmott@wgf.org, (202) 452-1530

IP TAKE: A longtime advocate for action to cut our carbon footprint and minimize climate change, Mott is a strong backer of programs that hold governments, citizens, and businesses accountable for scaling back on fossil fuels and curbing fossil-fuel pollution.

PROFILE: In 2007, a World Wildlife Federation report, “Climate Solutions: The World Wildlife Federation’s Vision for 2050,” warned that the world had five years left to decisively cut carbon-dioxide emissions or else suffer a dangerous global temperature rise of two degrees Celsius later this century. Richard Mott, then the World Wildlife Federation’s vice-president of international policy, was one of this report’s three co-authors, and he issued statements at the report’s release urging world leaders to take up the report’s recommendations for curbing pollution, halting deforestation, and advancing clean fuels and energy efficient design wherever possible.  

"Any delay and our choices become both more difficult and much more expensive,” Mott said at the time. "Those in power today have a unique opportunity, a duty, to avert a catastrophe."

That five-year window would seem to be up. But Mott continues to work toward a lower-carbon world in his present-day position as senior program officer for the environment at the Wallace Global Fund. In this position, he approves grants for myriad initiatives aimed at encouraging private and public monies to flow away from coal and natural gas. In 2012, for instance, he issued $180,000 to the nonprofit 350.org for its campaigns to end fossil-fuel subsidies and for a speaking tour in which the nonprofit visited universities to call upon university endowments to divest from fossil-fuel investments.

From 2010 to 2012, he also awarded $360,000 and $695,000 worth of grants, respectively, to fossil-energy-divestment campaigns by As You Sow and the Earth Island Institute. This was in addition to the $100,000 that he dispensed in 2012 to Climate Solutions to oppose coal businesses’ bids for expanded rail and port capacity for shipping more coal from the United States to Asia.

And in January 2014, he co-wrote a Huffington Post piece with his Wallace colleage Ellen Dorsey, explaining their fund's support of clean energy economies.

The Earth Island Institute received other grants from Mott. These included $300,000 in 2010-2011 for a “Women and Water” initiative, which trained women in 13 African countries to lead water safeguarding and sanitation improvements in their communities, and $50,000 for the Kids vs. Global Warming campaign in which young people across the United States took up projects to lower fossil-fuel energy use in their communities and shared their projects’ stories on the website iMatter.

Mott likewise shows support for efforts to strengthen corporate accountability and regulations of business activities that impact the environment. He awarded $105,000 to the Environmental Investigation Agency from 2009-2012 to mobilize global action on ozone-depleting and greenhouse-inducing HFC and HCFC chemicals, and to field investigations to expose illegal elephant poaching in Africa and make the case for revamping international protections of elephants.

And in 2009, he awarded a two-year grant of $140,000 to the Environmental Law Institute to challenge U.S. court decisions that appeared to weaken existing environmental statutes. The organization also received $60,000 from Mott in 2010 for a study critiquing the effects of agricultural subsidies and tariffs on crop diversity, beef prices, waterways, and climate change, $40,000 in 2011 for lobbying state governments to expedite deployment of wind power, and $45,000 in 2012 to promote inclusion of new concepts of “environmental rights” into U.S. law.

The group Earth Rights International, meanwhile, obtained $435,000 from Mott from 2009-2012 for its advocacy of new laws for corporate accountability at the international level.

The Amazon region features prominently in Mott’s largesse, as well. He gave $320,000 from 2009-2012 to Amazon Watch for its efforts to protect the region’s forests and its indigenous peoples. International Rivers got $90,000 in that same time frame for its opposition to construction of dams in the Amazon region, plus another $70,000 grant to target climate change and make the case for more regulatory scrutiny of hydropower projects in the Amazon and worldwide.

Canada is an area of interest for him, too. He gave $135,000 in grants to the Council of Canadians from 2011-2012 for the group’s efforts on food and water security, and for its scrutiny of Canadian mining practices. Tides Canada/CANOPY secured a legal accord between a group of NGOs and 20 timber, pulp, and paper industry companies to protect 175 million acres of Canad’s Boreal Forests—the largest terrestrial conservation agreement in Canada’s history—with $120,000 in grants in 2010-2011 from Mott.

Mott also approved $60,000 in 2012 for Environmental Defence and another $60,000 to Forest Ethics for the two groups’ work to halt construction of new pipelines in Canada’s Alberta tar sands. And Mining Watch Canada received $180,000 in 2010-2012 for its work to highlight the environmental consequences of Canadian mining and for campaigns for more stringent regulations of mining in Canada and throughout the world.

Mott also shows a strong interest in advocacy through documentary films and print media. He gave $100,000 in 2012 to International WOW Films/Sweet Jane Productions for a media campaign and tour surrounding the release of Gasland 2, a film exposé of hydraulic fracturing. He also gave the National Geographic Society $50,000 in 2010 for a seven-article series on global population and sustainability issues, and $300,000 to the Sundance Film Institute in 2010-2012 to sponsor environmentally themed documentaries.

Mott worked for the World Wildlife Federation for 20 years before the Wallace Global Fund brought him on board. He led on numerous issues, including international trade and climate, during that two-decade stint, and was a lead delegate during the Kyoto Protocol deliberations. He also served in the negotiations leading up to the global wildlife-protection treaty CITES and in meetings of the International Whaling Commission.