Partnerships That Go Far

Editor’s Recommendation

More Notes from the President

October 2, 2017

There’s an African proverb that says, “If you want to go fast, go alone. But if you want to go far, go together.” My colleagues at The Pew Charitable Trusts and I could not agree more. On a daily basis, we partner with bold, visionary, and strategic individuals and organizations—combining their ideas, commitment, and financial support with our own to improve public policy, inform the public, and invigorate civic life.

As you will see in this issue of Trust, which highlights some of our successes from last year, time and again our collaborations have shown that together we can do so much more than any of us could do on our own.

A decade ago, Pew and a small group of dedicated philanthropic partners launched Global Ocean Legacy, an initiative to promote the creation of the world’s first generation of permanently protected, extremely large reserves or “parks in the sea.” Each reserve has required careful study of the marine ecology; extensive negotiations with local communities and national governments; and building strong partnerships with scientists, donors, and other organizations. But the payoff has been remarkable. Last year, our collaborative efforts helped win protection for four new marine parks totaling almost 1 million square miles, an area nearly the combined size of our three largest states, Alaska, Texas, and California.

The overuse of antibiotics, especially in animal feed, has led to drug-resistant infections and has become a major public health concern. After consultation with Pew and a review of the compelling evidence, McDonald’s joined Chick-fil-A, Panera Bread, and other major food companies that agreed to stop using chickens raised with medically important antibiotics. And some chicken producers, such as Tyson Foods and Perdue Foods, agreed to new standards for the minimal use of antibiotics. These changes did not happen overnight—but with the backing of a longtime Pew partner, the Lyda Hill Foundation, we were able to help build a strong coalition of parents, nutritionists, veterinarians, and industry leaders who joined in advocating for the public’s health in seeking to ensure these lifesaving drugs are used properly.

Our collaborations have shown that together we can do so much more than any of us could do on our own.

Extensive surveys by the Pew Research Center with support from the Lilly Endowment showed last year that the vast majority of American adults—77 percent—are religiously affiliated and remain deeply committed to their faiths. And thanks to a decadelong partnership with the John Templeton Foundation, the center also documented how the religious makeup of the world is changing, with the number of Muslims projected to nearly equal the number of Christians by 2050. Such illuminating research not only informs religious leaders and policymakers but educates us all.

In this issue of Trust, we also celebrate three decades of the Pew Scholars Program in the Biomedical Sciences. The first project to use the Pew name, it has grown and thrived, supporting more than 600 scholars—many of whom have gone on to receive major scientific awards, including three Nobel Prizes.

The success of the scholars program also led to new collaborations, including a philanthropic partnership with the late Kathryn W. Davis and with the Alexander and Margaret Stewart Trust. With their encouragement and backing, we have created additional opportunities for promising young researchers in the early stages of their careers, a critical time to encourage informed risk-taking. With the program’s support, these talented scientists can follow what may appear to be a wrong turn that leads to an unexpected right answer and advance scientific understanding and improve public health around the world.

 Another project also saw continued success last year: our work to conserve Canada’s boreal forest, a region vital to the health of the globe. Our partners on this journey—as we seek to protect 1 billion acres of this continentwide stretch of wilderness, rivers, and wetlands by 2022—include the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, Ducks Unlimited, and the Michelle and Robert Friend Foundation. Half of this area will be under formal protections and the other half under development rules that ensure commercial activities will not harm the boreal ecosystem. We are well on our way, with 860 million acres under these protections, in part because of people like Ducks Unlimited’s wildlife biologist Chris Smith. He is featured in this issue in another installment of our profiles on people of the boreal.

To follow that African proverb, Pew’s problem-solving work does span great distances—from the Arctic to the Southern Ocean, and from the American heartland to the biomedical mysteries solved by scientific discovery. But we do not go alone. We work in close collaboration with individuals and organizations that share our commitment to rigorous research, measurable results, and public service. And in doing so, we keep moving—both fast and far.