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EFN Retreat 2017: Breakout Session Proposals

To ensure the EFN Retreat is as useful to attendees as possible, we ask participants to vote on their choices for concurrent breakout sessions.

This year, we received 15 proposals. Summaries of each are below. There will be two 1.5 hour slots in the programme for concurrent sessions and six sessions will run in total.

After reviewing the proposals, please vote for your top four here.

1) Magic bullet? Democratising energy in the UK (Friends Provident Foundation)
We would like to explore the possibilities that community energy offers to environmental and social funders to:

– (through grants) contribute toward community development, transition to a more sustainable economy, build community assets
– (through impact investment) invest in asset-backed community assets with long productive lives, with or without subsidy
– (through mainstream investment portfolios) explore how you can vote your shares in utilities to push them to publish their -2 degrees C transition plans and support community renewables.

We will try to make it engaging and fun as well as provide some concrete opportunities to engage and make change. It will be based on our experience thus far.

Presenter: Colin Baines, Investment Engagement Manager, Friends Provident Foundation. Possibly also representatives from Power to Change and Big Society Capital. 

2) Communities Living Sustainably: empowering communities to take action (Big Lottery Fund)
Communities Living Sustainably is a Big Lottery Fund programme that aimed to support communities to better respond to the environmental, economic and social impacts of a changing climate. 12 community partnerships were awarded up to £1 million each to deliver sustainability and behaviour change interventions through projects delivering a range of outcomes in energy, food, resilience planning and green space. As these projects draw to a close we want to share the learning from the programme and describe how this has changed the way we think about funding environmental initiatives in the future.

Through the programme we engaged an expert national ‘learning partnership’ to work alongside us, comprised of Groundwork UK, Energy Saving Trust, Federation of City Farms & Community Gardens, new economics foundation and Building Research Establishment. They were tasked to find out how communities can be supported to deliver greater impact and how funders and stakeholders can enable local groups to learn from each other, to stretch their ideas and integrate their activities and to build the sustainability of their organisations.

Our workshop will allow participants to discuss the findings with representatives of the learning partnership and with a number of those leading funded projects. It will also include a practical introduction to some of the bespoke tools and guidance which have been produced for communities trying to address these issues in their area.

Presenter: Graham Duxbury, CEO of Groundwork UK will present on the findings of the learning partnership. We would also hope to involve one of the other learning partners and a funded project.
Facilitator: To be confirmed, Big Lottery Fund

3) Doubling your returns! A funder’s guide to the galaxy of aligning your investment to your mission (Bewegungstiftung [‘Movement Foundation’])
The intellectual and ethical imperatives to align investments with foundations’ missions are stronger than ever. Meanwhile, decreasing capital returns are calling the conventional philanthropic investment model into question.

In recent years we have seen many introductions to how ethical and sustainable investments can help you to align your investments with your mission and many foundations have started to act. However, many foundations still find it challenging to introduce or develop a strict and coherent ethical and sustainable investment policy.

In this session, Matthias Fiedler, director of the German foundation Bewegungsstiftung (‘Movement Foundation’) will introduce the investment policy of his foundation. In the German context, Bewegungsstiftung is seen as one of the leading foundations in the field of ethical and sustainable investments. He will speak about the experiences they have made over the last 15 years and the challenges the foundation has met.

The session will then – based on the experience in the room – look at practicalities: How to develop an investment policy? How to convince the decision makers in a foundation? How to assess deals and investments? What is needed in terms of due diligence and decision-making?

Based on the example of Bewegungsstiftung we then hope to start a conversation not on the “if” but on the “how” to support your mission by making the right investments.

Presenter: Matthias Fiedler (director, Bewegungsstiftung / Movement Foundation)
Facilitator: Tobias Troll (director, EDGE Europe, EDGE Funders Alliance)

4) How to build a successful campaign? Inspiring energy efficiency (European Climate Foundation)
This session would seek to achieve two aims, using two textbook examples of ongoing large-scale, coalition-based political advocacy campaigns on home energy efficiency:

1) To inspire a discussion among EFN members about the nature of long-running political advocacy campaigns and the benefits of funding sustained, coalition-based efforts, as opposed to more short-term, targeted interventions;
2) To inform members about the state of play on home energy efficiency, and its importance as an ongoing funding need.

Improving the quality of buildings is one of the most accessible and multiply beneficial ways to tackle climate change, with the potential to improve the quality of life of people right across the country. Yet the last UK government cut almost all programmes designed to support it, leaving a yawning gap between actual progress and what is needed to deliver the UK’s carbon budgets.

The Energy Bill Revolution campaign, the Energy Efficiency Infrastructure Programme and the Warm Homes campaign of the Scottish Existing Homes Alliance have all used/are making use of coalition-based models combined with high quality research, carefully targeted advocacy and communications work to convince the government that home energy efficiency is both deliverable and a high-return public investment, and to ensure that this gap gets closed.

This session will explore how philanthropy can help to help bring actors, evidence and interventions together to achieve a political aim. Please note that the session should therefore be of interest to participants irrespective of their interest (or otherwise) on energy efficiency.

Presenters: Ed Matthew (leader of the Energy Bill Revolution campaign and now the Energy Efficiency Infrastructure Programme) and Elizabeth Leighton (Scottish Existing Homes Alliance)
Facilitators: Erica Hope and Keith Allott, European Climate Foundation

5) Maximising your impact in a complex world: understanding the value of cross-sectoral collaborative funding (Global Greengrants Fund)
Population growth, consumerism, the unequal role of women in society – all have negative impacts on our natural environment. Can environmental philanthropy successfully address the most pressing challenges like climate change or wildlife protection if we do not acknowledge their multi-sectoral nature?

This session will explore how environmental grantmakers can maximise the impact of their funding by taking a collaborative approach with funders from other sectors. It will do so by presenting a challenge from practitioners, and a funder response with the case study of cross-sectoral collaboration of environmental funders and women’s funds in the Global Alliance for Green and Gender Action.

Participants will

• Understand the value of intersectional collaboration
• Map out what makes a funder collaboration successful for grantees and funders
• Be inspired to think of opportunities for collaboration.

Participants will hear about why cross-sectoral funding is important from practitioners who face multi-sectoral challenges in their work, and funders who have experience of such collaboration (30-45 minutes). After a Q&A (10-15 minutes), participants will then discuss in smaller groups how a collaborative approach could practically address multi-sectoral challenges in their work (20 minutes), before feeding back practical next steps and ideas to the larger group (10 minutes).

Presenters: From Global Greengrants Fund, Mama Cash and the Population & Sustainability Network
Facilitators: Eva Rehse and Henriette Krarup (Global Greengrants Fund)

6) Changing ideas, saving the planet: the role of population activities in addressing the biggest environmental issues of our time (Fiona McKenzie)
Human population growth is a major driver of habitat destruction, species overexploitation, and environmental fouling (including climate change). We have already lost some 58% of wildlife since 1970. Unsustainable growth also means more people at risk of displacement, food insecurity or loss of livelihoods. The UN predicts that global population will reach 10 billion people by 2056 and 11 billion by 2088. But future population growth is not set in stone. People can change their minds about how many children to have.

There are two main types of intervention that can make a real difference: (a) improving access to and acceptability of contraception, and (b) campaigns that look to change the way people think about children and parenthood to encourage a shift towards small family sizes.

The session would have three parts:
(1) an overview of the environmental (and human) consequences of human population growth set against current UN projections, including a video clip displayed in the background making a compelling visual demonstration of global population growth over time
(2) an overview of how contraceptive access and public messaging interventions work. A few different organisations involved with these interventions will be mentioned
(3) open discussion

Presenter: Karin Kuhlemann, doctorate researcher at UCL and Trustee of Population Matters
Facilitator: Fiona McKenzie (EFN member)

7) Transformative change of the (broken) global food system: catalytic philanthropy – the EAT Foundation approach (EAT Foundation)
This presentation will address two themes:
• First, the Global Food System. EAT, a new foundation, sets out to address the fundamental challenge of feeding nine billion people by 2050 an affordable, healthy AND sustainable diet. Many organisations address pieces of the food system, such as waste or undernutrition. What is missing is a global systemic analysis, concrete scientific summaries and targets such as those provided by the IPCC for climate, or a roadmap for how to achieve a working food system. That global work is what EAT hopes to address.
• Secondly, EAT’s philosophy is to be a catalyst, not a traditional grantmaker. We want to break down silos, stimulate sharing of learning, engage business, politicians, civil society and scientists in solutions-orientated dialogues, and help translate the sector’s effective convenings into action. EAT seed funds what we see as key levers towards systemic transformation and seeks other funding partners to align while breaking down silos through collaborations and coalitions.

At the session we will hear about three strategic collaborations – C40 Cities, the Global Chefs’ network, and the Lancet Commission on Healthy Diets from Sustainable Food Systems – to illustrate how we see levers at key points in the supply chain to push upstream towards the producers and downstream on the demand side.

Presenters: Global Chef’s network (Gail Gailee, Jamie Oliver Foundation), EAT – Lancet Commission (Brent Loken, Stockholm Resilience Centre/EAT/Lancet Commission Coordinator), EAT-C40 Cities (presenter tbd)
Facilitator: Robin Millington, Director Global Alliances, EAT

8) Can nature pay for itself? Financial mechanisms for biodiversity conservation: what role can foundations play? (MAVA Foundation)
It is agreed that $300 to $400 billion per year is needed to preserve healthy ecosystems and the critical services they provide. The comparison with the c. $50 billion that flow to conservation projects today gives a sense of the huge funding gap for biodiversity conservation worldwide.

Fortunately, the field of conservation finance is gaining momentum. Several mechanisms exist, or are being tested, to provide funding for environmental causes. But there is no silver bullet. Conservation finance strategies need to be developed at different scales, involving a range of mechanisms which complement each other and ensure diverse funding sources.

This session will explore how conservation finance can help our work as foundations. What are the most promising mechanisms? Which one are best suited to our specific contexts? What would be a foundation’s niche to promote these and what can we do together?

Based on a study commissioned by MAVA with a focus on the Mediterranean and coastal West Africa, this session will combine a review of different mechanisms and group discussions. At the end of the session, each participant will have an idea of a mechanism he/she wants to explore further in his context, and identified potential synergies with other EFN members.

Presenters: Thierry Renaud, Director Impact and Sustainability, MAVA Foundation; Benjamin Landreau, Green-Ecoland
Facilitator: Paule Gros, Director, Mediterranean Programme, MAVA Foundation

9) Deep collaboration with grantees: using our convening power to build effective coalitions (MAVA Foundation)
MAVA’s new strategy entails building a plan of action around each specific theme. To do this, we have assembled coalitions of partners that work together to build the plan and then work hand in hand to implement it. Our wish is to create a community of actors working on an issue that will outlast MAVA when we sunset in 2022. The main piece of feedback we have on this new way of working is that in many cases this is the first time actors working on similar themes in similar geographies are coming together to discuss strategy for the first time, and that it takes a neutral actor like MAVA to make that happen.

In this session we will explore the lessons from our past year of working in deep collaboration with grantees. What works? What are some of the pitfalls and how to avoid them? And what at the benefits we are seeing that could be replicated by others?

Presenter: Paule Gros, Director Mediterranean Programme, MAVA Foundation
Facilitator: Thierry Renaud, Director Impact and Sustainability, MAVA Foundation

10) The state of our rivers – the River Fly Census Project (John Ellerman Foundation)
The Problem: Rivers and their surrounding catchments are amongst our most important national habitats. Yet fewer than 1 in 5 meet good ecological status – as judged by the quality and abundance of life within them. Nutrient enrichment, sedimentation and water abstraction are relentlessly at work – slowly but surely diminishing the vitality of our rivers with profound long-term implications.

How do we know about it? Salmon & Trout Conservation UK (S&TC) established its Riverfly Census Project in 2015 to provide scientific evidence of the water quality within our rivers, nail down the problems as well as identify solutions. It is all about invertebrates – such as mayflies and fresh water shrimp. These are absolutely critical to river life – and precision indicators of well being since they form the basic food chain for fish, wetland mammals and birds. Different invertebrate species and densities demonstrate tolerance or otherwise to various forms of stress.

What to do: Following the pilot and the widespread publicity it attracted, S&TC is expanding the project to cover more rivers. Early findings have surprised many – showing some well known rivers, thought pristine, seriously depleted of invertebrate life. Others surprised on the upside. Expert volunteers are already being trained and mobilised to expand the research to enable positive action. More resource is needed.

The session will include a 30-minute presentation with film and slides, followed by an interactive session using an actual map/photo study of one or two English River catchments to bring to life issues and solutions. We will set time set aside to explore how we can better identify and bring together key local and national agencies for more effective action and collaboration. Session papers will be available in advance.

Presenters: Nick Measham and Paul Knight (Development Director and Chief Executive of Salmon and Trout Conservation)
Facilitator: Tim Glass (John Ellerman Foundation)

11) The human factor — getting the most out of your team and board (Miranda Trust)
You have the vision; you have the plan; you even have the money. How do you get the best out of your team and your board?

This session will explore the internal, human workings of organisations (applicable both to your trust or foundation, or those of your grantees). What makes them work well? What dysfunctions creep in? What do you do about them? The session will be highly interactive, with games and exercises quick and less quick. The style will be more facilitative than lecturing, in the knowledge that there will be a lot of wisdom and experience in the room.

Facilitator: William Eccles (trustee of the Miranda Trust). William’s main focus for many years has been the way people work, and work together, and he has in recent years been using that approach to help conservation organisations become more effective. 

12) Fostering sustainable food systems: a collaborative approach to communicating about research and initiatives (Daylesford Foundation and Martin Stanley)
Agricology is a unique initiative to help farmers exchange and access knowledge about ecology-based agriculture. Agricology applies contemporary communication methods to share information on practical, sustainable farming. It addresses the range of environmental issues in food, agriculture and land management.

Funded and driven by the Daylesford Foundation, Agricology is an independent umbrella organisation steered by over 20 statutory and non-statutory partners, in both research and delivery, and numerous farmers across multiple identities of agroecology, regardless of labels.

We plan to leverage future funds by co-bidding and delivering the communications of other project proposals.

Participants will brainstorm how this might work with the following examples:
1) The extremely successful Oxford Real Farming Conference is at a crossroads to balance funding, voluntary input and costs of registration. We would like to explore ideas for future business models to make the event sustainable.
2) Whilst Agricology addresses the ‘supply’ of sustainable food, how can we increase ‘demand’ from consumers. There is plenty of effort in this space but with little collaboration.

We call on participants that use their influence as a funder or have co-bid to leverage funds. Does a funder have a role to play in guiding multiple organisations to collaborate with one clear communication?

Presenters/facilitators: Tim Field (Daylesford Foundation and Agricology), Martin Stanley (EFN member and individual donor), Dr Susanne Padel (Agricology Executive Board Member and Organic Research Centre)

13) Convening collaborations: a catalyst for “systemic change”? (Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation)
Funders and NGOs vehemently agree that complex social and environmental problems will need more collaborative action across boundaries (silos, borders and sectors) and fresh ideas to effect significant change. But how do we resource NGOs to develop new ideas and to collaborate more effectively?

At the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation recently we have been trying to answer this question through convening collaborations. In the UK we’ve established the Marine CoLABoration, a group of marine-related NGOs who are exploring how to communicate the value of the ocean in ways that will influence decision-making, whilst in Portugal we’ve been working with the tiny environmental NGO sector to build collaborative capacity and strategies for impact.

There have been some successes – and challenges – along the way! In this session, we would like to share what we’ve been doing, lessons learned and the questions – e.g. of leadership, luxury, long-term sustainability and impact – they’ve raised, and learn from other funders’ experiences through a participative workshop which will explore the benefits of convening, the barriers to success and how we might address these more effectively in the future.

Presenters/facilitators: Louisa Hooper (Programme Manager, Environment, Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation UK branch) and Sarah Ridley (advisor to the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation and former CEO of the Tubney Charitable Trust)

14) 360Giving and opening up environmental funding data
The session will be a workshop format, with short (5-8 minute) presentations by:
• 360Giving on why the initiative was established and their work developing a standard format for sharing grants data.
• The Esmée Fairbairn Foundation about their experience of publishing their grants data openly and how they want to use it.

This will be followed by a showcase session of the GrantNav platform, followed by Q&A. We will then break out into small groups to discuss and identify common questions about environmental funding and using data to help answer these.

The aim of the session is to identify what common information items EFN members have and to explore their interest in engaging with a data use pilot over the course of 2017 that includes openly sharing funding data.

Presenters: Rachel Rank (CEO, 360Giving), Esmée Fairbairn Foundation (staff member tbc), Katherine Duerden (Partnerships & Engagement Manager, 360Giving)
Facilitator: tbc

15) Climate change funders: how can we add up to more than the sum of our parts?
The latest data on the pace at which the climate is changing and speed with which the window for mitigating the changes is shrinking can be paralysing. How can our collective efforts meet the scale of the challenge? As funders, can we we figure out how to join forces so that we become greater than the sum of our parts? At this session, we will make inroads into mapping out the interventions we are supporting, the bases we are covering and what is left uncovered. Is there room for collaboration both to increase our efficiency and improve our response, to make it more proportional to the scale of the challenge?

Facilitator: John Fellowes, Full Circle Foundation