Last week, scientists from James Cook University in Australia announced the discovery of a previously unknown detached coral reef in the Great Barrier Reef. It was the first new reef to be discovered in the area since the late 1800s, Mongabay reports.
The discovery was made by an underwater robot launched by a team aboard the Falkor, a research vessel owned by the Schmidt Ocean Institute, which provides scientists with a world-class facility to conduct oceanographic research, develop and test new technologies, and advance public understanding of oceans.
The Schmidt Ocean Institute is an initiative of philanthropists Eric and Wendy Schmidt, who have established a network of charitable organizations and investment vehicles that work to address some of the world’s greatest challenges, from human rights to clean energy to stewardship of natural resources.
Wendy Schmidt says her interest in sustainability and the environment was born out of her career as an interior designer, where she became increasingly aware of the impact that design choices can have on resource use and waste. That led her to become engaged in trying to solve three of the biggest problems facing humanity: climate change, the sustainability of food systems, and ocean health.
These efforts started with the Schmidt Family Foundation, but the complexity of these issues soon spawned the development of an array of entities, from grant-making and operating foundations like the 11th Hour Project and the Schmidt Ocean Institute, to social ventures like ReMain Nantucket to the “venture philanthropy” and incubator models of Schmidt Marine Technology Partners and Schmidt Futures.
“We approach problems with systems thinking — examine what elements are contributing, and why, and what assumptions underlie the system. Find creative ways — including technology — to redefine the problem you are trying to solve,” she told Mongabay. “Then you can move quickly to design a model that addresses what was overlooked before and work towards a more resilient solution.
“When you approach philanthropy with a systems thinking approach, you can see connections that may not be obvious on the surface.”