A Year of Collaborative Work
From helping to protect oceans around the globe to advocating for historic new pension reform legislation in our home state of Pennsylvania, Pew worked in 2017 with a variety of organizations to improve public policy, inform the public, and invigorate civic life.
Mexican Marine Reserve
Hundreds of species of fish, marine mammals, and seabirds can breathe easier thanks to Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto’s November designation of the country’s largest fully protected marine reserve. The Revillagigedo National Park, a few hundred miles south of Cabo San Lucas, covers 57,177 square miles of dazzling ocean habitat that is home to some 360 species of fish and is known as a marine superhighway for migratory whales, sharks, rays, turtles, and other ocean life. The Pew Bertarelli Ocean Legacy Project joined local partners Beta Diversidad and the Coalition for the Defense of the Seas of Mexico to raise awareness of the benefits of preserving this archipelago, and to provide technical and scientific support for establishment of the reserve, which prohibits fishing and other extractive activities.
Historic Arctic Pact
Near the top of the Earth, melting sea ice is opening parts of the Central Arctic Ocean to boat traffic for the first time in human history. In a show of unified foresight, 10 governments agreed in November after two years of negotiations to prohibit commercial fishing in that ocean until at least 2033 to give scientists time to understand the area’s marine ecology and how warming is affecting the region. Pew’s Arctic conservation team advocated for the historic deal, which protects 1.08 million square miles (2.8 million square kilometers) of international waters in a region that is warming at twice the rate of the rest of the planet. The newly protected area is the largest ever to be proactively placed off limits to fishing.
Christianity's status as the world's largest religious group is likely to change in coming years. A global study of religions by the Pew Research Center revealed that in the next 20 years the number of babies born to Muslims is expected to exceed Christian births. The center projects that Muslims will begin to outnumber Christians by 2075; these findings received coverage in about 900 news outlets around the world. (Amir Levy/Getty Images)
Christianity’s status as the world’s largest religious group is likely to change in coming years. A global study of religions by the Pew Research Center revealed that in the next 20 years the number of babies born to Muslims is expected to exceed Christian births. The center projects that Muslims will begin to outnumber Christians by 2075; these findings received coverage in about 900 news outlets around the world.
In partnership with The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation
Deep divisions define both the right and left in the nation’s politics, the Pew Research Center found in the 2017 edition of its political typology report, which sorts Americans into cohesive groups based on their values, attitudes, and party affiliation. An online quiz allowed readers to determine where they fit in the typology, ranging from core conservative to solid liberal, and more than 187,000 users took it in the first three days after its release in October. By the end of 2017, 550,000 online users had completed the quiz.
Pennsylvania enacted historic legislation to address soaring and unsustainable state pension debt and costs. Passed with broad bipartisan support in June, the law establishes a plan for new workers that significantly reduces risk to taxpayers, ensures that the employees have a secure path to retirement, and honors the state’s commitment to fully fund the existing pension system. Pew provided technical support tailored to Pennsylvania’s specific needs.
Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards signed landmark prison reforms in June that were met with support from across the political spectrum in the traditionally conservative state. The bipartisan criminal justice legislation aims to reduce crime and incarceration in the state by steering people away from prison for lower-level crimes, strengthening alternatives to prison, and removing barriers to success for citizens returning to society. These changes are likely to help Louisiana shed its status as the most incarcerated state. Utah passed comprehensive juvenile justice legislation in March that will hold youth accountable while promoting public safety, controlling costs, reducing recidivism, and improving outcomes for youth, families, and communities.
Budget cuts in Philadelphia’s public schools have resulted in a backlog of broken musical instruments—over a thousand of them. Enter the Symphony for a Broken Orchestra, a project that encourages the public to “adopt” the instruments to fund their repair. At its center is a musical composition, created by Pulitzer Prize-winning composer David Lang, and performed on the damaged instruments through a commission funded with major support from the Pew Center for Arts & Heritage. At the time of the 40-minute piece’s December debut, conducted by Jayce Ogren (above), the project had helped the School District of Philadelphia raise nearly $250,000.
Pew Project: Small-Dollar Loans
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) took an important action that will help the 12 million Americans who use payday and auto title loans to make ends meet. By regulating the loan market for the first time, the CFPB’s rule curtails short-term loans that too often have unaffordable payments, fail to work as advertised, and charge excessive rates. Pew’s advocacy for data-driven reforms had a noticeable effect on how the rule was adjusted before being finalized in November. Pew provided research, cited more than 40 times in the CFPB’s rule, that shows how these loans harm borrowers. The rule also creates a path for mainstream lenders to provide lower-cost payday loan alternatives, potentially saving millions of consumers billions of dollars.
Shoreline-buffering sea grasses are visible at low tide on the banks of the Ashley River in Charleston, South Carolina. (Lee Gillenwater/The Pew Charitable Trusts)
The land along America’s bodies of water—and the property on them—can be effectively protected by natural solutions. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers embraced the idea in January by making it easier for residents and businesses along coastlines, estuaries, and lakeshores to use native elements such as vegetation, oyster reefs, or rock sills to stabilize banks and reduce erosion rather than resorting to bulkheads or seawalls. Prior to the Corps’ ruling, living shoreline projects faced greater scrutiny than hard infrastructure plans. Pew provided research and support for the living shorelines approach.
In partnership with Conservation Media Group Shark Conservation Fund
The momentum to protect sharks continues to build. In October, the 124 member governments of the United Nations Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals—an international treaty to protect wildlife—agreed to fully protect whale sharks (seen here), angel sharks, and the Mediterranean subpopulation of common guitarfish in any place where they migrate and encouraged action to better protect white-spotted wedgefish, dusky sharks, blue sharks, and the global population of common guitarfish. Minimizing threats to sharks while they migrate is critical because even those that live in protected waters are vulnerable to fishing when they leave those areas. Pew advocated strongly for the new measures, which are in line with its longstanding efforts to achieve global management of vulnerable shark populations.