Jan Bonde Nielsen is involved in a variety of philanthropic endeavors, especially ones relating to agriculture and conservation. He is highly interested in preserving endangered species and their native habitats. This desire to help keep these beautiful lands and creatures around for future generations led him to Virunga Park. Today, he serves as the Chairman of the Virunga Foundation. This multi-million dollar organisation was funded by the EU with the widow of Steve Jobs, the European Commission, the Eric Schmidt family foundation, Warren Buffett, the Earth Alliance, the Emerson Collective, and Global Wildlife Conservation. The goal of the fund is to protect the park and all that live within it.
Virunga was originally founded in 1925, making it Africa’s oldest national park. The park is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The park is located in an area with very fertile soil, which made convincing people to allow Virunga to be created was a difficult task. However, they created a deal with local farmers around the park by improving farming methods and offering community gains from small industries and trade.
For example, Virunga Foundation created three hydro power stations near the park. These power stations supply electricity to thousands of people in the area. This is an area Jan Bonde Nielsen is especially interested in, as it is one of his goals to help provide energy to African families. The income from this electricity helps with the park’s upkeep. Virunga plans to build four more hydro power stations in the future. The EU also believes that Virunga and its activities play an important role in maintaining peace in the region.
The park has been recognized by groups all around the world. It has won awards for its work from National Geographic and the BBC, as well as received the Albert Schweitzer Prize, the Prince Albert Prize, and the Roosevelt Prize. The Roosevelt Prize has also been awarded to a variety of notable individuals including Nelson Mandela, Gro Harlem Brundtland, Helmut Schmidt, Bill Clinton, and Mikhail Gorbachev. The 2016 film entitled Virunga, financed by Leonardo de Caprio, was nominated for an Oscar.
Jan Bonde Nielsen is very grateful to contribute to the work the Virunga Foundation is doing in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The country has been torn apart by a civil war that led to the deaths of 5.6 million people. Even though the country has many sources of natural wealth, over three quarters of its citizens live in poverty, or less than US $1.90 a day. Virunga Park is making a difference, through its economic impact, creation of jobs, clean energy, and boost to eco-tourism. Jan Bonde Nielsen is excited to see how it helps continue to transform the region in the future.Jan Bonde Nielsen and the Virunga Foundation.