A Turning Point: From Our President & CEO

The kind of progress we made this year is what makes me full of hope that we not only can change the course of the future but that we will.

Manish Bapna, smiling, in a gray suit and yellow tie, at the New York NRDC Night of Comedy

NRDC President & CEO Manish Bapna at NRDC's Night of Comedy in New York City, September 20, 2022


Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for NRDC

 ›   2022 ›  For Our Supporters

I’m delighted to have the opportunity to report back on this historic year in climate and environment. I’m both invigorated at the unprecedented advancements we were able to make in the United States and more resolved than ever to confront the challenges and seize the opportunities before us to build a cleaner, more equitable, and more prosperous future for all, here and abroad. With momentum at our back, this is exactly the right time to push to go bigger, bolder, and faster on solutions. 

I feel very fortunate to be able to tackle all of this with you, and with everyone at NRDC, where we are working to address not just the symptoms and the effects of these crises we’re dealing with but also their root causes. We are focused on not only securing strong policies but also addressing the power imbalance in politics. And we are fighting to protect and advance climate, nature, health, and equity to deliver a better world for people everywhere. 

An iconic example of this work is the landmark Inflation Reduction Act, signed into law this past year as a result of strong advocacy from the environmental movement. This bill not only contains climate action we sorely need, but it is also bringing the undeniable benefits of clean energy to parts of the country that have traditionally been left out. It is creating jobs and protecting public health in red states and blue, in low-income communities, and communities of color. This is how we’ll make lasting change—by bringing more people into the movement around the significant quality-of-life improvements that come with climate solutions, building power, and setting the stage for more. 

In many ways, NRDC has been working toward this moment for decades. But with a climate-friendly administration in Washington, D.C., we have been able to spend less time on critical defense than recent years and more time on an equally formidable offense. I am proud that we brought the full force of our organization to bear to help pass the strongest climate bill in U.S. history. Through nearly two years of twists, turns, and tense negotiations, our experts analyzed the technical aspects of the evolving legislation, we mobilized the support of members and activists like you who helped spread the word, and we worked on deepening relationships with partners to help bring it over the finish line. This annual report has all the details. 

Brown bears looking for salmon at a mini water fall in Katmai National Park, Alaska

Brown bears at Brooks Falls, Katmai National Park, Alaska


Christoph Strässler (CC BY-SA 4.0)

Outside of Washington, we saw what community-led activism—coupled with NRDC’s powerful advocacy and litigation—can look like at the state and local levels. In southern Alaska, the work of our diverse coalition led to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency hammering more nails in the coffin of the Pebble Mine. In December 2022, the agency released a recommendation that would prohibit the mine and limit future mining in Bristol Bay, an area known for spectacular wilderness and wild salmon that many tribal communities depend upon; the agency finalized protections in January 2023. In California, we helped advance the broad 30x30 goal to protect 30 percent of all lands and inland waters in the state, and it’s heartening to see that it will do so by addressing the inequitable access to nature directly. And in Maine, communities and tribal members of the Penobscot Nation—backed by our attorneys who sued to protect the river over the course of two decades—stood up to a corporate polluter and won. 

In local progress, we also saw a critical win for environmental justice in New York State when it announced that it will provide $150 million in funding to improve sewage infrastructure in Mount Vernon, a majority Black community that has been enduring the inhumane effects of inadequate sewage infrastructure for decades. Additionally, the Los Angeles City Council voted unanimously to pass a motion that will begin the process of phasing out oil drilling in the city, an important step to securing the health and safety of frontline communities. We are buoyed and humbled by all the progress that truly shows us what we can accomplish when we bring partners and networks together—another example of how diversity only makes results stronger and more enduring. 

As many of you know, our work to protect climate, nature, health, and equity extends beyond U.S. borders. To that end, our brilliant team at NRDC held court at the latest round of international climate talks (COP27), where I came away with both optimism and determination on what needs immediate attention and scale. We saw progress on global equity as countries agreed to establish a “loss and damage” fund to support the most vulnerable countries from climate disasters. However, world leaders still fell short on reaffirming a commitment to rapidly move away from fossil fuels. We need them to recognize not only the urgency and severity of the threat of the climate crisis to every corner of the planet but also understand that there are solutions that benefit all—and we will work toward that at COP28. 

A view of lush green forests and mountains of Hainan Tropical Rainforest National Park in Hainan Province, China

Hainan Tropical Rainforest National Park, Hainan Province, China


Zhang Liyun/Xinhua via Getty Images

NRDC also made vital progress on other international fronts. Most notably, India ratified the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol, a huge step in phasing down climate-scorching hydrofluorocarbons. Additionally, China announced the establishment of the country’s first national parks, a critical move in supporting and maintaining biodiversity. And a global target to protect biodiversity at the 15th Conference of the Parties (COP15) to the Convention on Biological Diversity was secured. You can read more about all of our efforts in this report. 

We are excited for our international work to continue and expand. I’m happy to announce that we officially established and registered NRDC India, after a decade of high-impact programmatic work, with independent contractors on the ground and a handful of staff in the United States. I’m thrilled to see what more we can achieve with an official presence in the country. 

It is progress like this that makes me full of hope that we not only can change the course of the future but that we will. I think about my children, who are now 15 and 12, and I know that we must. Their generation is coming of age amid multiple crises, from climate chaos to an ongoing pandemic and increasing geopolitical tensions. We have a responsibility to offer them, and children everywhere, a brighter tomorrow. We can do that if we confront these challenges together, embrace the solutions, reap the benefits, and never look back. With NRDC on the job, and with your support, I know we’ll succeed. Thank you, as always, for standing with us. 

More for Our Supporters

2022 Highlights

Annual Report 2022: A Turning Point

Explore the rest of our annual report for an overview of what we've accomplished in 2022.

An illustration of a utopian earth

Annual Report 2022: A Turning Point

We are living in uniquely challenging times. At this juncture between what exists and what should be, and backed by supporters like you, NRDC is at its best—defining new perspectives and new pathways to drive the change our planet demands.