Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan, will donate $50 million over seven years to the University of Hawaii Manoa’s School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology to fund research on climate change and its impact on the ocean.

This marks the largest cash donation in the university’s history.

The funds will go toward research and programs that “document changing ocean conditions, explore solutions to support healthier ocean ecosystems, enhance coastal resilience from storms and sea-level rise, and tackle challenges to marine organisms ranging from the tiniest corals to the largest predators,” according to a UH news release on Wednesday.

Experts have predicted that climate change conditions will worsen, leading to rising sea levels that are increasingly threatening Hawaii’s coastline.

“This transformative gift will enable our world-class experts to accelerate conservation research for the benefit of Hawaiʻi and the world,” UH President David Lassner said in the new release. “The ocean ecosystems that evolved over eons now face unprecedented threats from our growing human population and our behaviors. It is critical that we learn from previous generations who carefully balanced resource use and conservation.”

SOEST is dubbed as the UH’s world-class research and academy institution. Interim SOEST Dean Chip Fletcher expressed his gratitude and said the funds will support students through internships, mentoring, community engagement efforts and more.

Fletcher said that the research on climate change and ocean health is already underway.

“This money comes as a way to amplify and expand the great work that’s already done,” Fletcher said in an interview.

Support Civil Beat during the season of giving.

As a small nonprofit newsroom, our mission is powered by readers like you. But did you know that less than 1% of readers donate to Civil Beat?

Give today and support local journalism that helps to inform, empower and connect.

About the Author