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  • His Highness the Aga Khan and Princess Catherine at the luncheon marking the merger of the Bellerive Foundation and the Aga Khan Foundation, Geneva, 31 May 2006.
    AKDN / Jean-Luc Ray
Bellerive Foundation merges with the Aga Khan Foundation

Geneva, Switzerland, 31 May 2006 - The activities of the Bellerive Foundation are being integrated into the Aga Khan Foundation (AKF) in the form of the “Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan Fund for the Environment”, a US$ 10 million fund which will be dedicated to practical solutions to environmental problems.

The Bellerive Foundation was founded by the late Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan in Switzerland in 1977. Its major programmes focused on the link between the scarcity of natural resources and poverty in the developing world; the preservation of fragile mountain ecosystems; animal protection; and initiatives in environmental education.

The new Fund will concentrate its activities in six main areas: environmental education; natural resource management in fragile zones; nature parks and wildlife reserves; environmentally and culturally appropriate tourism infrastructure; environmental health; and research.

Special focus areas include water resource management in areas of desertification and measures to reduce the vulnerability of poor populations to natural disasters. The Fund will also work to alleviate the poverty that forces people to consume the few resources available to them -- a cycle that often results in deeper poverty, depleted soils, deforestation, desertification, pollution, water scarcity, disease and hunger. Bellerive activities, such as tree conservation and the design of fuel-saving cooking systems, will reinforce AKF’s existing programmes.

The Foundation’s present environment-related activities include: rural development projects that have planted over 26 million trees and transformed 33,000 hectares of degraded land into productive use, in northern Pakistan; natural resource management in drought-stricken areas of Kenya and India that encompass rainwater harvesting systems, tree planting, conservation education and reservoir construction; and rural water and sanitation projects designed to reduce the prevalence of disease in Afghanistan.

Environmental concerns also cut across the activities of the other eight agencies of the Aga Khan Development Network. Projects range from a hydroelectric plant in the Pamir Mountains of Tajikistan to appropriate sanitation measures and low-cost filtration techniques for drinking water being developed at Aga Khan University in Karachi, Pakistan.

The University of Central Asia, which will be located on three campuses – in Khorog, Tajikistan; Tekeli, Kazakhstan; and Naryn, Kyrgyz Republic – will incorporate parks that function not only as environmental resources for local communities, but as dynamic laboratories for research and education in a variety of disciplines, including water and dry land management, reforestation, energy substitution and biodiversity.

Parks also play an important part in redevelopment efforts elsewhere. In Cairo, for example, an urban revitalisation project in the city’s historic district includes a 30-hectare (74-acre) park that has become a catalyst for positive change in one of the poorest areas of the city. In Khorog, Tajikistan, and Nairobi, Kenya, two other parks are intended to have a similar positive impact on social, cultural and economic development.

Other efforts encompass environmental impact studies and reforestation efforts by the Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development’s Serena hotels in East Africa. The Serena hotels, which have received Green Globe certification, have been in the forefront of efforts to create environmentally friendly tourism infrastructure while preserving wildlife reserves near its hotels, resorts and lodges.

About Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan and His Highness the Aga Khan
The late Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan, paternal uncle of His Highness the Aga Khan, was the second son of Sir Sultan Mahomed Shah Aga Khan, who was the 48th Imam of the Ismaili Muslims and President of the League of Nations from 1937 to 1939. Sir Sultan Mahomed Shah Aga Khan’s first son was Prince Aly Khan, father of the current Aga Khan.

Prince Sadruddin founded and chaired the Bellerive Foundation along with his wife, Princess Catherine. Prince Sadruddin served the international community in a variety of roles, including the United Nations’ High Commissioner for Refugees (1965-77) and the United Nations’ Coordinator for Assistance to Afghanistan (1988-90). He was also the United Nations’ Executive Delegate of the Secretary General for a humanitarian programme for Iraq, Kuwait, and the Iraq-Iran and Iraq-Turkey border areas (1990).

The current Aga Khan, His Highness Prince Karim Aga Khan, became the 49th hereditary Imam of the Shia Imami Ismaili Muslims in 1957, succeeding his grandfather. He is the Chairman of the Aga Khan Development Network, a group of nine agencies whose mandates include the delivery of improved healthcare, quality education, the preservation of historic neighbourhoods, microfinance, water and sanitation, housing, agricultural development, tourism infrastructure, power generation, financial services, aviation and media. The activities of each agency are designed to reinforce and complement those of the other agencies within the Network.

For more information, please contact: Sam Pickens
Information Officer
Aga Khan Development Network
1-3 avenue de la Paix
P.O. Box 2049
1211 Geneva 2
Tel: (+41 22) 909 7277
Fax: (+41 22) 909 7291

Notes About the Aga Khan Foundation:
Since it was founded by the present Aga Khan in Geneva in 1967, the Aga Khan Foundation (AKF) has worked primarily in four major areas: education, rural development, health and civil society. Although not considered a major thematic area before, environmental programmes such as reforestation and rainwater harvesting have cut across thematic areas. With the creation of the Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan Fund for the Environment, the environment will formally become the fifth major area of AKF activities.

In every undertaking, the overriding goal is to assist in the struggles against hunger, disease, illiteracy, ignorance and social exclusion through experimentation with, and the implementation of, innovative solutions to problems in the developing world. Central to all these efforts have been inclusive, community-based development approaches, in which local organisations identify, prioritise and implement projects with the Foundation’s assistance. The ultimate goal is to help poor communities achieve a level of self-reliance whereby they are able to plan their own lives and help those even more needy than themselves.

The Foundation has a sharply defined funding strategy, and its standards are, of necessity, high. Grants are normally given to local organisations interested in testing new solutions, in learning from experience and in being agents of lasting change. These organisations must share the Foundation’s goals in the fields of health, education, rural development, the strengthening of civil society and the environment. If no established group exists, the Foundation occasionally creates new organisations to tackle particularly important problems. With few exceptions, the Foundation funds programmes in countries where it has offices and local professional staff to monitor implementation (particularly in South and Central Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East).