2009 Case Study: Earthwatch, contributing to a more Sustainable Future

Four Alcoa employees from Australia helped unlock solutions to some of the biggest sustainability challenges of our time, after being awarded Earthwatch Fellowships by the Alcoa Foundation in 2009.

Alcoa Earthwatch Fellowships offer the chance to work alongside leading scientists and researchers from the Earthwatch Institute.  Founded in 1971, Earthwatch’s mission is to engage people worldwide in scientific field research and to promote the understanding and action necessary for a sustainable environment. Our people do not need to be scientists themselves in order to take part, just a love for the environment and a drive to help progress sustainable change.

Paul Smelter from our Point Henry operations, Will Roche and Bronwyn Larner from Kwinana, along with Vicky Tang from Alcoa Australia Rolled Products in Yennora NSW, joined 11 other Alcoans from around the world (countries including Brazil, China, and the USA) looking at issues including climate change and global water supply.

Each employee spent up to two weeks, in different parts of the world, working alongside Earthwatch scientists on research projects that included:
  • understanding the impact of climate change on mammals in Nova Scotia.  
  • remediating mangrove ecosystems in the tidal forests of Kenya.
  • restoring vital waterways damaged by acid rain in the mountain waters of the Czech Republic.
Since 2003, Alcoa’s partnership with Earthwatch has resulted in more than 82 Alcoa volunteer Fellows directly contributing to critical scientific research projects and gaining a first-hand insight into how their individual actions impact the global environment.

The Earthwatch Fellowships Program, one of a suite of employee volunteer programs supported by the company, not only provides Alcoa the opportunity for employees to personally contribute to future global sustainability, but it encourages them to share their learnings in the communities in which they work and live.

Alcoa’s 2009 Earthwatch fellows worked on projects linked to global issues that are of great importance to Alcoa: climate change, global water supply, and sustainability. In addition to contributing to the knowledge needed to confront these global challenges, this hands-on support for scientific field work provides employees a rich understanding of how individual daily behaviours, both at work and at home, can contribute to a more sustainable future.

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Will Roche and Bronwyn Larner marking out their territory as Kwinana’s Earthwatch Fellows for 2009

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Paul Smelter from Point Henry will travel to Canada to track mammals as part of Earthwatch