In the summer of 2020, Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation were considering how they could help tackle the climate crisis. They engaged us – Lucent Consultancy – to help with some background research and have graciously agreed that we can share some of our findings and thoughts here. This blog focusses on what we learnt about green funders’ grantmaking, as one of the main – but by no means the only – tools funders use to influence change.
Posts from a range of voices on fostering an effective environmental movement.
Biodiversity projects by their nature often require sustained investment until a clear tipping point has been reached. Equally, the factors driving nature loss and biodiversity decline are pervasive: large-scale action, able to bring a suite of habitats and entire ecosystems back to health, is a demonstrably effective mechanism to restore biodiversity at a scale where it is more likely to survive into the future. EU LIFE funding has provided this large-scale, long-term funding for landscape-level conservation. On leaving the EU, Scotland and the rest of the UK are no longer eligible to apply for LIFE funding and there are currently no proposals on how it will be replaced. So what are the options going forward?
From "veggie burgers" to "vegan sausage rolls", Europeans have been enjoying plant-based meat and dairy for decades. But in October 2020, the European Parliament voted on a plan to ban the plant-based sector from naming their products with the everyday language people use to describe these foods. Following a funder-supported campaign from The Good Food Institute Europe in collaboration with other international non-profits, leading businesses and thousands of consumers, MEPs voted to reject this attack on plant-based meat. Richard Parr, Managing Director of GFI Europe, describes how the willingness of their funders to support a collaborative approach enabled their small team to have an outsized influence in defeating the veggie burger ban.
For conservation to truly be successful in stemming the ongoing biodiversity losses being experienced across the globe, we need to make concerted efforts to measure the impact of specific interventions, thereby generating evidence to inform the development of more impactful conservation strategies in the future. As part of an MPhil in Conservation Leadership at the University of Cambridge, Salisha Chandra undertook a research project to generate insights into and best practices in conservation impact measurement and reporting. Here are the key recommendations to emerge from her research for conservation funders to encourage better monitoring and evaluation practice by their grantees.
Vicki Hird reflects on several years of hard work to win a better approach to UK farm policy via the brand new Agriculture Act, making the case that flexible funding was key to allowing the Sustain alliance to adapt to a rapidly changing political and policy environment. The Act is now here, but the hard work has only begun.
Seeking honest and open feedback can be downright daunting. It is, on the face of it, always the right thing to do. However, there is a real art to seeking meaningful feedback that is easy to process and act upon. As funders, where should we begin?
When coronavirus hit, like many other organisations working in the sector, we were determined not to let it stall the momentum for action on climate change that has been built in the last year. We know there is no silver lining to coronavirus. But we also recognise the pandemic represents an utterly unprecedented global ‘moment of change’, in which the regular patterns of hundreds of millions of people’s lives have been forcefully interrupted, not just as individuals but as part of local and global communities. Capturing this moment provides an opportunity to create a domino effect of climate-positive behaviours in communities across the UK, writes Patrik Ewe from Possible.
How can we communicate about the ocean effectively in a COVID-19 world? It is a question that many members of the Marine CoLABoration, a network of ocean-interested organisations funded by the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, have grappled with since the start of the pandemic. There have been difficult conversations over the need to communicate sensitively, while also protecting the hard-won gains that have been made in recent years and continuing to progress forwards. Natalie Hart from the Marine CoLAB explores how we can push for meaningful change, but do so in a way that does not cause harm.
Whitley Fund for Nature supports grassroots conservation leaders in the Global South, for whom the effects of the pandemic have been profound. Across our network of over 200 conservationists in more than 80 countries, many are facing delays to urgent projects, reduced income from livelihoods based on ecotourism, or an increase in harmful activities by people who are struggling to survive. But our winners never cease to inspire us with their ability to adapt to challenging circumstances, writes Amy Forshaw from Whitley Fund for Nature.
COVID-19 is a reminder of the strength of communities, the effectiveness of collective action, the power of empathy. Can we harness these positives to begin to change the stories we tell ourselves about our place in the world? Can it be the catalyst for us to begin to address the inequalities in our relationships, both among our own communities, and with the natural world around us? This pandemic may just have given us an unexpected window of opportunity to reconsider the path we are on and the motivation to help us change course, writes Jim Pettiward from Synchronicity Earth.
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