Environmental Defense Fund
EDF is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Our people: We’re one of the world’s largest environmental organizations, with more than two million members and a staff of 550 scientists, economists, policy experts, and other professionals around the world. Our values: We believe prosperity and environmental stewardship must go hand in hand. We’re optimists, because we have seen our ideas make a huge difference. And we build strong partnerships across interests to ensure lasting success. See more on our mission and values. Our focus: We achieve results by finding solutions that benefit people while protecting natural systems.
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- Professional association
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- Globally (various continents)
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Our mission: To preserve the natural systems on which all life depends.
Our values: We are environmental problem-solvers who believe that economic prosperity and environmental stewardship can go hand in hand. Partnerships are the groundwork of everything we do. Learn more about our mission and values.
Our people: More than one million members and a staff of 500 scientists, economists, policy experts, and other professionals around the world.
A vision for the future
The objectives of Blueprint 2020, our current five-year strategic plan, reflect a careful consideration of where our resources and expertise can have the biggest impact.
Decades of new ideas: In 1975, we were the first environmental group to hire economists to help solve environmental problems. More recently, an environmental data project with Google Earth Outreach is one of the first of its kind.
Environmental Defense Fund’s mission is to preserve the natural systems on which all life depends.
Guided by science and economics, we find practical and lasting solutions to the most serious environmental problems.
What distinguishes Environmental Defense Fund is the combination of what we protect and how we protect it.
We work to solve the most critical environmental problems facing the planet. This has drawn us to areas that span the biosphere: climate, oceans, ecosystems and health. Since these topics are intertwined, our solutions take a multidisciplinary approach. We work in concert with other organizations — as well as with business, government and communities — and avoid duplicating work already being done effectively by others.
Our Core Values
These values allow us to experiment courageously in our work, while staying true to who we’ve been as an organization for 50 years.
- Results — Create environmental solutions that make a lasting difference in the world
- Respect — Welcome diverse perspectives, talents and contributions
- Innovation — Design and use a wide range of problem-solving tools
- Optimism — Embrace ambitious environmental goals while taking into account real-world dynamics
- Integrity — Uphold a commitment to science, rigorous analysis, intellectual honesty and ethical action
How we began: A pioneering team
In the 1960s, the pesticide DDT was used widely. It caused eggshells to thin and break, threatening the survival of magnificent birds like the osprey, bald eagle and peregrine falcon.
DDT is a persistent poison that works its way up the food chain, endangering people, too.
On Long Island, a researcher at a small conservation group was documenting the decline of the osprey. He found that unhatched osprey eggs contained significant concentrations of DDT. The group asked the county to stop using DDT. The mosquito control commission replied that DDT killed mosquitoes cheaply and easily, so they would continue using it.
So the group tried a novel approach, common today but unheard of in the late 1960s: The scientists teamed up with a lawyer and went to court on behalf of the environment.
After many months of preparation, the case was strong. Not only was DDT poisoning birds and crustaceans, but it was also of declining value in mosquito control, as the insects became resistant to it.
In 1966, the court imposed a ban on DDT. Four years later, the governor enacted a statewide ban, based largely on the testimony from that Long Island case. And in 1972, the lawyers and scientists played a major role in securing a nationwide ban.
The osprey has since made a dramatic recovery, and the bald eagle and peregrine falcon have been removed from the endangered species list.
That first court victory presented the local group with a choice. Because this was the first case of its kind, it roused national interest, 'out of all proportion to the actual results achieved.' Appeals for help came pouring in from across the country, many more than a small group of volunteers could address.
They decided to organize more formally and attempt to raise funds to expand their work. In 1967, they incorporated as Environmental Defense Fund.
Decades of growing results and new approaches
Not long after, we began hiring economists, which led to our international prominence in designing market-based solutions. In the 1990s, we pioneered corporate partnerships and some of the first interactive uses of online communications.
In the process, EDF has grown into a leading national nonprofit organization representing over one million members.
We are grateful to have such a strong foundation from which to continue to tackle environmental problems with smart, lasting solutions.